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Within the boundaries of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, and for the greater part lying wedged between the White and Black Imfolozi rivers in KwaZulu-Natal, lies a wilderness untouched by man. It was in this region, covering some 30 000 of Imfolozi total area of 66 000 hectares that the first wilderness trails were introduced in the late 1950’s.

It has been said that the wilderness is an area where the earth and its inhabitants are not disturbed by man, and where man himself is but a visitor who does not remain. This is also true of the Imfolozi wilderness area, where there are no roads and access is only permitted on foot or horseback.

The area forms part of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, which is the oldest game park in Africa and is the only park under formal conservation in KwaZulu-Natal where the Big Five occur. Although this park has had a century of formal protection, conservation in this area has been practiced for far longer than this as it was the exclusive hunting preserve of the Zulu kings and was well managed.

The wilderness area, today, remains a piece of ancient Zululand frozen in time, a living monument to the Zulu nation. Ancient battlefields and relics bear testimony to its turbulent history.

Wilderness Trails
The wilderness trails in the Imfolozi area were the first to be introduced in South Africa in the late 1950’s. Since then many people have found that these trails offer them the opportunity to appreciate the silence and solitude of the wilderness and to become physically, mentally and spiritually refreshed. Most popular of the trails is the Short Wilderness Trail of 2 nights / 3 days.

The trails are run from mid-February to mid-November, aimed to include people from all walks of life and enable them to enjoy the Wilderness experience, as well as the broad diversity of fauna and flora, ecological habitat and landforms that characterise KwaZulu Natal. Due to the heat during December and January shorter trails are run using one base camp from where the trails are conducted.

The Imfolozi Wilderness is a so-called ‘Big Five’ area, and there is always a chance of walking into a black rhino, buffalo or elephant, along with many other species. Trailists have seen wild dog on foot, leopard, cheetah and lions.

Also there is a rich diversity of plants and trees which man can live on, and which are still used extensively in Zulu cultural practices for food and natural medicines. There are a host of insects and birds, amphibious creatures and reptiles which will fascinate you.

The trails are led by two wilderness guides whose experience and knowledge of the bush serve to inform the trailists, as well as ensure their safety.

As walking occupies the majority of time spent on this trail, a fair degree of fitness is required. The rugged nature of the terrain ensures that the best game viewing opportunities are afforded from higher ground. The average distance covered per day can be up to 15 km, although can be far less depending on the average fitness of the participants.

The trail takes place within the malaria belt and thus participants are advised to take precautions as a matter of routine.

Equipment provided by the KZN nature conservation service include all food, tea, coffee and fruit juice, all backpacks and daypacks, all bedding, al cutlery and crockery and water bottles. Catering is provided in the form of three meals per day, starting with supper on the day of arrival and concluding with breakfast on the day of departure.

Meals are simple but nutritious and quantities provided should satisfy most appetites. The menus have been developed with input from previous trailists and satisfy the palate of the average person

People with any special requirements may of course bring their own food and every assistance will be given to prepare it. Fruit and nuts are provided as snacks between meals, however trailists may also bring their own between meal snacks and refreshments.

A little alcohol may be brought into the wilderness area, however no excessive drinking will be allowed for reasons of safety, and to avoid detracting from the wilderness ethic, which involves quietly blending in with the environment. A good guideline is to keep within the legal alcohol limit for driving a vehicle.

In order to maintain the wilderness ethic and character, the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service facilities are restricted to the minimum of sophistication.

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