Monday, September 14, 2015

The Smallest Petrol Garage – Imfolozi

The Imfolozi Game Reserve forms part of the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, (previously the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve) home to the Big 5 and a significant player in animal conservation.  If you are able, it is a delight to visit this, the oldest declared nature reserve in Africa.  It’s an important and significant wildlife area.
We were recently there, and I decided to photograph aspects other than the endangered rhino and his many two and four-legged wild-life companions.  There is a magical, rustic, even quirky side to the reserve too.  Mpila camp is home to the smallest petrol station I’ve seen.  The cute A-frame hut houses a petrol pump and an attendant too. When a car pulls up for petrol, the attendant leans out of the hut to fill the tank.

The Petrol Station is close to the Mpila Camp Reception and a small curio and supply shop.  We had forgotten to bring salt with, and went to buy some at the little store.  They were out of stock, but one of the assistants offered to run to his housing community and bring some of their salt back for us in bowl.  We were so appreciative!
The camp generator switches off at 10pm.  Some units have oil lamps, but it is best to come well prepared with lighting of your own.  No electricity means early to bed, and then early to rise.
I found the very early morning light compelling and magical. I captured some of the bushhveld silhouetted against our hut by the golden rising sun…

Imfolozi in the very early morning

… and I found the fiery light display on the tree trunks breathtaking

Imfolozi in the very early morning

It’s refreshing to wonder around the camp. You are quite likely to bump into some wildlife somewhere.  We had a lion rum between our neighbour’s hut and ours once.  Beware of the monkeys, who are adamant to get into your hut and eat your food if they can.  Also beware that hyenas seem to come every night to see what’s on the braai.  If you are brave enough to braai, certainly don’t leave your meat to go inside to fetch something.  Our neighbour did, and had to come up with Plan B for his supper.

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,

Curios are sold by the local communities at the Vulamehlo Craft Market, which is situated at the Centenary Centre.  I was struck by the hours and hours of colourful talent that is housed in the cool round building.

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

I’m not sure if the Mpila Petrol Station is the smallest one in South Africa, but it certainly must have one of the most beautiful views, and as Mpila has no fencing, other than a thin elephant wire, so I'm sure it has quite a few wild and exciting visitors too.

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