The safari parks and nature reserves in Swaziland are home to an impressive variety of wild animals. Visitors will be able to see the Big Five, several species of grazers, reptiles and fascinating bird species. What makes Swaziland different from other safari park destinations is the possibility for more intimate wildlife experiences and freedom to explore the beautiful parks at one’s own pace.
Swaziland, officially known as the Kingdom of Swaziland, is a relatively small country in southern Africa, bordering Mozambique, a place where there is no room for mass tourism. So, don’t expect to meet convoys of safari vehicles. Instead, you will be able to take part in private safaris to discover the black and white rhino, lions, giraffes, zebras and wildebeest.
There are a number of safe safari park reserves where you don’t need a guide to find your way and you are free to explore the bush at your own leisure. If you do decide on a guided tour, there are safari etiquette tips to keep in mind.
For more information about what you can do in Swaziland, see our article: Top Ten Things to See and Do in Swaziland.
Swaziland is home to approximately 132 species of mammals, but the ones everyone wants to see are rhinos, giraffes, hippos and elephants. Swaziland is mostly renowned for its rhino safaris, which give visitors the opportunity to learn about these incredible (and very endangered) animals. Unlike South Africa, Swaziland has more control over their rhino poaching situation. Here are the top parks and reserves where you can experience the unforgettable wildlife in Swaziland:
Hlane is home to the largest herds of game in the country and is mostly visited by those who want to spot the Big Five, especially the mighty lion. It covers a area of 22,000 hectares.
Safaris in Hlane give visitors the chance to spot lion, elephant, rhino and leopard, and also hippos, giraffes, crocodiles and many wonderful bird species like the white-back vultures and marabou storks. Hlane Royal National Park has two rest camps: Ndlovu Camp, situated near the main entrance of the park, and Bhubesi Camp, situated in a pristine area, 14 km from Ndlovu. We stayed at Ndlovu Camp for a night, which had wonderful views of a large watering hole where guests can see rhino almost every day.
Other activities include self-drive tours, lion or rhino tours, guided mountain bike rides, birding walks or visiting the Chief’s Village accompanied by Swazi guides.
The Mkhaya Game Reserve is also considered among the best safari parks for big game viewing in Swaziland. It is home to many endangered species. This is the place to visit if you want to spot white and black rhinos, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, the Swazi Nguni breed of cattle and tsessebe (cousin of the wildebeest).
At Mkhaya you will get to enjoy everything from Land Rover game drives to walking safaris. The park provides accommodation at Stone Camp, which comes with elegant twin, double, triple and family cottages.
You should book your entry to the park in advance. Guests are met at the pick-up point at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., depending on their package itinerary.
This private game reserve is famous especially as being home to an impressive number of grazing animals. It covers an area of 3,000 hectares and borders the Lubombo Mountains, Mlawula Nature Reserve and Hlane Royal Park. Since there are no predatory animals here visitors enjoy the privilege of driving, walking or cycling around the reserve freely, without the supervision of a guide.
Mbuluzi Wildlife Reserve boasts healthy populations of giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, nyala, impala and kudu. The two rivers of the reserve, Mbuluzi and Mlawula, are home to crocodiles and hippos, but also to a variety of fish like bream, yellowfish and barbel. Mkhaya is also a great place for bird watching; more than 300 bird species nestling in the area.
The reserve is divided into the northern sector, where you can find the Mbuluzi River, a campsite and mountain views, and the southern sector, that houses the most game population and the modern reserve’s lodges. Our favorite nearby attraction is the Shewula Mountain Village experience. The village has sweeping views of the Mbuluzi Wildlife Reserve below, plus guests can enjoy traditional Swazi dances, food, and cultural walks.
The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Swaziland’s Ezulwini Valley, also known as the “Valley of Heavens”, between Mbabane and Manzini. It is a very important conservation area for the country, home to 22 endangered species.
This particular safari park stretches across a 4,560 hectares and it is divided into northern and southern sections. Mlilwane has four lodges, three of which are very budget friendly.
Planning a safari trip to Swaziland will give you the opportunity to admire the beautiful nature of southern Africa. Game drives, walking safaris, horseback riding, and mountain biking are among the top favorite activities of those visiting the country.
Special thanks to the Swaziland Tourism Board.
Have you been to Swaziland? Tell us about your favorite experiences or attractions. Leave us a comment below!
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Great writeup on Swaziland. Thanks 🙂