Suddenly she hung over the side and peered at us through the windshield with her head upside down. As soon as the car slowed, she leaped to the ground and sauntered off toward her companions, glancing back periodically to ensure that we were not planning any further humiliation.
For me, some of the most relaxing, fulfilling and memorable times of my life have taken place in Hluhluwe and other of these vast, lonely game parks--Hluhluwe in particular. For those who have never heard the wild cry of the fish eagle as it soars the skies, or the trumpeting of an elephant as it thunders through the bush, or who have never breathed in the smell of the hot African earth, I can assure there is no greater thrill.
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GUIDEBOOK: Beast Bets
Getting there: American (in partnership with South African Airways), KLM, British Air and Air France fly from LAX to Johannesburg with a change of planes in various U.S. and European cities. Advance-purchace, round-trip fares start at about $2,185, but fares are scheduled to rise Dec. 1. South African Airways has frequent daily hourlong flights between Johannesburg and Durban for about $120.
Getting around: We rented a subcompact for about $25 per day at the airport; most major car rental companies are represented. For those who shudder at the prospect of driving on the left side of the road, there are many companies in Durban that offer tours to the Hluhluwe and Omfolozi game reserves. Day tours start at $100 per person, overnight tours from about $275.
Where to stay: Ghost Mountain Inn, Old Main Road, Mkuze; tel. and fax 011-27-35-573-1025 or 573-1027; from $30 per person. Just a short drive from Hluhluwe, this hotel is situated in an indigeneous African garden with outdoor swimming pool and central to some of KwaZulu-Natal's finest game reserves. Hilltop Camp, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal; tel. 011-27-35-562-0255, fax 011-27- 35-562-0113. With its hilltop site offering panoramic views of the game reserve, the camp provides cottages and rondavels (traditional round thatched cottages) from about $20 per person, or a luxury lodge, Mtwazi, from about $35. There are also more rustic tent-camp accommodations.
Safety: South African game reserves are generally safe, but for more information on safety concerns, see Travel Advisory on page L14.
Health: Anti-malaria medication is advisable; ask your physician.
For more information: South African Tourism Board, 9841 Airport Blvd., No. 1524, Los Angeles, CA 90045; tel. (310) 641-8444 or (800) 782-9772, fax (310) 641-5812.