South Africa 2004

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park

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Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Wildlife Preserve is the oldest, one of the biggest, and arguably the most beautiful of South Africa's many parks. We did a Safari there on the second Sunday (1/11), slowly cruising the dirt roads with our little Toyota Corolla rental car. We saw white rhino, cape buffalo, giraffes, zebras, impala, kudu, nyala, various raptors, warthogs, and dung beetles. We had lunch at the Hilltop Camp, where the view is absolutely stunning and the buffet is out-of-this-world!

At one point in Hluhluwe we got really up-close and personal with a bunch of Cape Buffalo. That was even more exciting than the rhinos. Maybe the buffalo look like docile mooh-cows to you, but they are considered one of the most dangerous mammals on earth!

We had been warned to leave the engine running when we see them, in order to make a quick escape, if necessary. In a magazine, I read a report of a ranger getting run over by a buffalo, after the ranger shot the animal three times with his high-powered rifle.

So we were sitting in our little Toyota Corolla, engine running, and this buffalo appears, and checks us out, looking at us from roughly 10 feet (3 meters) away. He sniffed the air with his nostril while his brain was trying to decide whether we bothered him or not. At that point it dawned upon me that we were sitting in a bright red car! But I guess we checked out OK anyway, and he and his buddies went about their business.