Walking with Rhinos

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by Hilary

Clambering out of the safari vehicle to assemble for our safety briefing, all pairs of eyes are on Samoa’s shot gun, probably thinking the same thing: I’d rather we don’t see anything than see a gun have to be put to use. My first walking safari and off I go in single file. Quietly. Within minutes, Samoa stops sharply and makes an assertive signal with a clenched fist – which, coincidentally, was not mentioned in the briefing – but we all got the message: something big is very close to us. An adult male white rhino is grazing just past the next tree! We silently skirt around him, with only uninterrupted, muffled munching filling the air.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal, is the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa (est. 1895). Conservation efforts here during the 1950-60s brought the rhino back from the brink and the park is now home to the largest population of white rhino in the world. We crept close to numerous more muffles as they chomped past us through the wild vegetation – testament to the ongoing safeguarding success.

For more than a walk in the park, there is opportunity to partake in the Primitive Trail (4-nights). Sleeping bags under the stars with just a fire throughout the night to warn off any danger? After the excitement of being on foot, so close to these special beasts – yes please! I think.