As the staff from Durban Tourism and I headed towards our next adventure, having just come from
the amazing Hillcrest Aids Centre, we found our way at the famous Phezulu Safari Park. The park is
not only a favourite on the 1000 Hills Tour Route, but one of the oldest properties in the area. As it
looks over the famous Valley of 1000 Hills.
PheZulu Safari Park
Phezulu Safari Park offers many different experiences and activities. Ranging from game drives to snake
holding and for the more adventurous and adrenaline seeking, lunch with the crocodiles! You may
end up being lunch, but for the brave, you’re welcome to take part in the Phezulu Lunch Challenge.
You and your guests, and a qualified Ranger will be seated inside one of the animal enclosures, while
you snack away. I personally have had a close enough encounter with a crocodile or two, so will
leave this up to those of you, who need some excitement in your life lol.
Speaking of Game Rangers, the team at Phezulu are just amazing. Through out our experiences,
which included a game drive, a talk and walk through the croc enclosures, a Zulu dancing show and a
meet and greet with a snake, we were fed information for days.
Enjoy Lunch in a Crocodile Encolsure!
The area is clean, well managed and accessible for people of all ages. I do suggest though that you
leave the high heels behind when visiting, as I would suggest when visiting any park or game reserve.
Dressing accordingly to your environment is always the smart choice. You much rather be prepared
for anything and comfortable, then disabled by your attire.
Phezulu is one of the few areas that have water in the watering holes throughout winter. Due to the
natural granite rocks in the area and natural water stream, it’s been a rare time or two where there
has not been water available for the animals.
Speaking of which, the first animals we came across as we ventured down into the reserve where
the Wildebeest, also known as Gunu or Wildebeest in South Africa. The Wildebeest always amaze me;
they’re strange nonchalant characters, who seem to roam the plains of this earth, in search of
nothing and always at peace, a strange way to associate with a wild animal of Africa.
PheZulu Safari Park Offers Game Drives
Having worked on a Game Reserve myself and having a natural love for the animals of the wild, I was
eagerly keeping my eyes out for the Martial Eagle. Not only a great bird of prey, but my favourite
bird, the Martial Eagle is a rare sight and once seen never forgotten.
The Marital Eagle is the largest of the African Eagle birds. The Martial is easily capable of knocking a
fully grown man off his feet, with the reported power in one foot to break a human man’s arm. This
eagle can weigh in at 14 pounds and have a wingspan of 6.ft 14inchs. Often people see the Marital
Eagle at separate stages of its life and don’t realize that they have, as the bird looks very different as
a youngster than it does a fully grown Martial.
Unfortunately, I did not spot any on this trip, but we did see lots of Fork Tailed Drongo. I call them
the birds that dance.
Next we came across a couple of the beautifully majestic giraffe. Not often found laying down or
sleeping, which was a lovely surprise for the tour group and I.
The tongue of a giraffe is a very interesting thing. Unlike us humans the tongue of a giraffe is so
tough that they have no problem eating off of their favourite tree, the Acacia. Yes, that’s the one
COVERED in thorns. The Giraffes tongue is so flexible not only does it wrap around the branch, but is
black in colour to protect it from sunburn, which goes to show how often a giraffe uses its tongue.
While Giraffes may look like tall and skinny animals they’re actually incredibly muscular beasts, who
have been seen to kick and seriously harm or even kill lions. Giraffes have a great sense of balance
and you would NOT want to be kicked by one, think internal bleeding. It takes 15 months in the
womb to bring a baby Giraffe into this world. Which also means a 6foot drop to the floor upon birth
as Giraffe females give birth standing up, and we thought we had it bad.
With that we were off to see some slightly more scaly animals. When we got to the Crocodile pen, I
felt slightly familiar with the resident crocs. When I was working on the private game reserve in
2013, I assisted the rangers in tracking, baiting and relocating a Crocodylus Nilotcus, that had
escaped its pen and moved into the general public area. What an experience, most certainly a story
for another time. I did however learn a love for these creatures. Often assumed to be the slow ones,
the lazy ones, the sleepers, the dreamers, nothing could be further from the truth.
While crocodiles can’t move for long periods of time, the speed at which they move generally means
that they don’t have to. Especially when sneaking up on unsuspecting prey or being startled by a
human. All interesting when you take into fact that the Nile Crocodiles are known to have no natural
predators, and the Outside Water Crocodiles, only notable meet competition with Leopard or Lion.
The spots on a crocodile around its head, mouth and neck are different from the spots you see
elsewhere on its body. These spots form a special function, as they are sensory glands. They
measure the salt content in the water, and then send the information through to the brain via nerve
cells. No one said this species hasn’t evolved over the years. These spots are not found on the
alligator strangely enough, despite their kingship.
After waving goodbye to these beautiful beasts, who have graced the planet much longer than most
of us reading this, we head up to the snake sanctuary. I personally am not a fan of snakes, or snake
holding, or anything snake related, so while our wonderful guide explained to us the importance of
remaining calm when you come into contact with a snake, I quietly stood at the back of the group
snapping away images. It was wonderful to see members of the team taking the leap of faith and not
only holding but petting the Python our Ranger had brought out to visit. I watched as the snake slid and glided through the air as through some magical tune was playing.
Zulu Culture and Traditions
After a wonderful busy and exciting day, we finally came to an end. With last but not least a
Traditional Zulu Dance show put on for us. It was the story of a woman, who was to be wed, and a
man who was asking for her hand in marriage. Traditionally the man, then sought out a sangorma,
who would tell him about he’s bride and if she was worthy or not of he’s cows and labolla
(gifting/pay to her father).
Once all was arranged and agreed upon, the two families would come together in a dance ceremony
and together the union would be made. Men showing symbol of their strength an authority through
dance and vice versa with the woman.
And with that, we ended our tour of the famous Phezulu. With all our new knowledge and
appreciation for the animals we encountered and the ones we’re yet to meet. Phezulu is great for
kids and adults alike.
Thanks to Shelldon our Tour Guide, the staff that accompanied us from Durban Tourism, the staff
that closed up our adventure from 1000 Hills Tourism and of course the Rangers, Dancers and Staff at
And As Always……