Our overnight stop in Durban was nothing short of spectacular. We stayed at the Oyster Box Hotel which has recently been rated as the best hotel in South Africa and the second best in all of the continent of Africa.
It is a grand colonial style hotel with staff dressed in elegant uniforms. The doorman wore a safari suite and pith helmet, waitresses all wore frocks and pearls and the room staff looked like something out of Huckleberry Fin. Management were all dressed in dark suits and ties.I thought that the days of the British Raj had finished in the late 1800’s but these days of colonial splendour apparently still live on in Durban.
Our dinner was very nice but breakfast was something else. The buffet in one dining room provided the dishes for the continental breakfast while the counter in the adjoining room provided breads and cereals. Of course, cooked meals were individually cooked to order. Breakfast here also included oysters (and champagne)! I ate mine out of the shell with some freshly ground pepper and lemon juice. I couldn’t resist having a few as I thought that this form of decadence suited the quality of life that I could potentially live with permanently. However to avoid being too ostenationus, I did limit myself to only three oysters.
When we left the hotel the duty manager handed us all a red cap which everyone in our group wore during the day, even though they played havoc with our photography. Red reflections were very apparent in the bus windows throughout the day..
The area around Durban (and further north) is a very large sugar growing area. There were sugar fields and sugar mills everywhere. Durban is located on a similar latitude to Perth so it has a sub-tropical climate but it has much more rain.
We drove on to reach Hluhluwe-Umfollozi National Perk in the early afternoon. We drove through it in the coach, having something of a coach based game drive.. This park is famous for its Rhinoceros breeding program and protection of these animals. While elephant poaching in South Africa has declined significnltyly, the poaching of Rhinos has increased markedly in this area.. Over twenty animals have died in this national park in the last few months.
In our few hours of driving through the park, we saw a number of species. It wasn’t an ideal time for wild life viewing as it was the middle of the day and we were in a humongous coach. However, we were able to spot half a dozen rhinoceros in various places, a big herd of cape Buffalo, some Zebra and some Elephants in the distance.
We had bought a roll and a sandwich at the Woolworths supermarket before leaving Durban. (This is the same Woolworths that now own the David Jones chain of department stores in Australia. It was a very nice boutique supermarket with lots of delicious things to buy). At park camping area at ‘Hilltops’ we found a picnic table and enjoyed our lunch.
We ended up in the little town of MIkuze where we are staying for two nights at the Ghost Mountain Lodge. It’s a lovely hotel and set in a expansive area of beautiful gardens. After dinner we watched a display of very energetic Zulu dancing and drumming..