The Swaziland monarchy is a small landlocked country in southern Africa and the second smallest country on the continent after Gambia – but it is hardly inferior to larger African countries in terms of diversity. A picture of the diversity in flora and fauna can be obtained above all in the numerous nature reserves and game reserves. All typical “safari animals” such as elephants, rhinos, antelopes, giraffes, zebras as well as lions, leopards, hyenas and jackals can be observed in the nature of Swaziland. The specialty in the animal world is that the rare black rhinoceros can also be found in Swaziland. In addition, the nature reserves offer the possibility of white water rides, cave climbing and exploring nature by mountain bike or by horse riding. The landscape is also worth discovering the Ezulwini Valley, where there is a golf course in addition to hot springs, or Piggs Peak and the west, which are probably the most beautiful region of Swaziland with their romantic and wild scenery. Well-known excursion destination also the Mantenga waterfalls not far from the reserve of the same name. If, on the other hand, or in addition to discovering the cultural side of the kingdom and wanting to experience the country and its people, you can do so extensively with a visit to the capital Mbabane. The city, located in the northwest, on the border with South Africa, is the modern political, economic and cultural center of the country and has recommended sports and shopping opportunities as well as many nightclubs and discos. Another popular city is the traditional capital Lobamba, which is only a few kilometers away from Mbabane and which can be reached relatively comfortably due to the fact that there is a well-developed road system in Szwaziland. All in all, there are many reasons that speak for Swaziland as a holiday destination – although it has so far been often overlooked or little known as such.
Hlane Royal National Park
The Hlane Royal National Park is a huge nature reserve in Swaziland. The area is around 21,700 hectares and was originally a private hunting ground for the Swaziland kings. Today the extensive area, which largely consists of forest areas and wet savannah, is managed by a private organization. The national park is divided into individual areas by fences. Small animals can overcome this without any problems, but the large animals of the park only stay in special areas.
The Hlane Royal National Park is a habitat for elephants, lions, giraffes, crocodiles, white rhinos, impalas, wildebeests, zebras and other animal species, including different species of birds such as B. the white-backed vulture. The Hlane Royal National Park is also well known for its birds of prey.
Those who want to visit the park can spend the night cheaply in one of two camps: the Ndlovu camp and the Bhubesi camp. Ndlovu, which means “elephant”, is located near the main entrance to the national park and can be easily reached via a tarred road. There are African round huts and small self-catering cottages in the camp. All accommodations are located near a restaurant at a watering hole that elephants and white rhinos often go to to drink. There is no electricity in this camp. In the dark, candles and lanterns provide lighting and a romantic atmosphere.
The Bhubesi-Camp, which means “lion” in German, is about 15 km from the national park and can be reached via its own road. The Bhubesi Camp offers its visitors several fully furnished stone cottages that also have electricity. Each cottage has its own kitchen, two separate bedrooms and a barbecue area.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is located near Lobamba in the Ezulwini Valley. This reserve was the first of its kind to be established in Swaziland and shows what is possible when passion, vision and zest for work merge.
All of the national parks in Swaziland owe their founding to the Reilly family and the late King Sobhuza II. At the end of the 19th century, the country’s rich game population continued to decline and the last wild black rhinos disappeared. In 1959 Ted returned to his native Mlilwane. His father Mickey had founded the highly profitable multi-purpose farm Mlilwane here fifty years earlier. The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary was created on the 4560 hectare farmland. Reilly planted native tree species, created bodies of water and wetlands, and brought various animal species back to his homeland. In 1964 the site was recognized as a protected area.
Today you can find a surprising biodiversity in the hilly forest area of Mlilwane. Vacationers can go hiking for hours and do not have to fear wild animals as there are no dangerous predators in the national park. Exploring this beautiful park is also an experience for cyclists. On the way you can see giraffes, zebras or warthogs and hippos again and again. Numerous species of birds can be observed at the lakes or in the open area.
All hiking tours start from the park’s activity center. At the reception, visitors can purchase detailed hiking maps. The park also includes a small campsite, swimming pool and restaurant.