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ABOUT

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, a shining example of what is possible if passion, vision and action fuse.  Once a highly profitable multi-purpose farm, and being labeled an “impossible dream”, Mlilwane was proclaimed in 1961 and is now the kingdom’s most popular eco-destination for locals and internationals alike.

The name 'Mlilwane' ('Little Fire' in siSwati) was derived from the numerous fires started by lightning strikes on the Mlilwane Hill but now holds significance as the little fire that ignited the conservation movement in Swaziland.

Mlilwane’s diverse habitats support a surprisingly extensive species list. Endless hours of guided or self-guided exploration within the small 4560 Ha sanctuary are possible due to the relative absence of dangerous game.  The southern plains stretch to the striking Nyonyane Mountain (Execution Rock) with its exposed granite peak. Tourism is concentrated in this southern section of the park, while guided Chubeka Trails explore the northern section, as far as Luphohlo Peak.

Mlilwane’s Rest Camp offers a range of affordable accommodation with self-catering and catered options available.  Alternatives within Mlilwane include Sondzela Backpackers 2 km to the south, luxurious Reilly's Rock Hilltop Lodge and Down Gran’s Self-Catering Cottage a short 3km to the north of Rest Camp.

All Activities depart from our Activities Centre at Reception, with detailed maps on sale.  The Hippo Haunt Restaurant and Swimming pool with summerhouses provide the opportunity for true relaxation.  Day Visitors are welcome to self-drive and picnic at Rest Camp, visit the restaurant or take part in activities until 18h00.

Situated between Mbabane and Manzini, with 24-hour access to the Sanctuary, guests are free to enjoy the neighbouring tourist hubs of Ezulwini and Malkerns, with their many unique attractions and craft shops.

Essential Information: Please note gates are open for check-in from Sunrise to Sunset, otherwise 24-hour access on the designated Night Route.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary Information Sheet

Camping
Wildlife
Restaurant
Picnic
Mtn. Biking
Game Drives
Birding
Mtn. Bike Trails
Conference Facilities
Family Friendly
Guided Mtn. Biking
Guided Walks
Hiking
Horse Riding
Museum
Cultural Tours
Swimming Pool

FACILITIES

Mlilwane Rest Camp is the perfect venue for corporate lunches, small conferences, birthday gatherings, family outings or just relaxing in the tranquil environment, admiring the continual stream of animals such as impala, warthog and nyala walking between the facilities, quietly tolerant of human presence. 

The Rest Camp has 5 distinct areas, all within easy walking distance of each other – Main area with Reception, Activities Centre, Curio Shop, Hippo Haunt Restaurant & Rest Camp Huts; the Beehive Villages and Campsites; the Self-Catering cottages, the Swimming Pool area and the open animal inkhundla.  All accommodation units are within walking distance of the Swimming pool, Activities Centre and Hippo Haunt Restaurant.

Watch out for the inquisitive warthogs – they are keen to share your lunch!  Please don’t feed the animals.

The Hippo Haunt Restaurant

Located within Mlilwane Rest Camp is the Hippo Haunt Restaurant which overlooks a picturesque Bird Pool where guests can admire hippos, crocodiles and prolific birdlife while enjoying delicious meals.  The semi-open dining area with bar, coffee station and buffet station is extremely popular, with an alternative cozy inside area.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily.  Lunch is à La Carte with light and full options, while breakfast and dinner are either buffet or à La Carte, depending on bookings.  Fabulous functions can be booked for special occasions.

Swimming Pool & Childrens Play Area

Mlilwane's large swimming pool is located just behind Reception, with a number of braai/BBQ areas and a small children's play area.  Please note that all children must be supervised by an able adult at all times and that the safety of children is the parent/guardian's responsibility. Visitors use the swimming pool at their own risk. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is not liable for any injuries.

Environmental Education

Visit our open Interpretation Centre to gain a better understanding of Swaziland's natural heritage and Mlilwane’s history.  Our Sangweni Gate has an impressive banner display explaining our 50-year history and how Swazi culture & Conservation are so closely linked.

Braais and Picnics

Braai/BBQ facilities are located in our Swimming Pool area and both overnight and day visitors are welcome to make use of these.  Large summerhouses have recently enhanced this offering, along with a kiosk for fast food on busy weekends and holidays.  Our Shop sells basic snacks, ice cream and soft drinks.

Conference Room & Inkhundla Function Venue

Our unpretentious “Museum” provides for small conferences up to 30 people, with plug points and projector.  The Museum is often used for presentations to visiting groups and schools.  The nearby open air Inkhundla is modeled on a kraal with a traditional log fence interspersed with living trees surrounding a large circular sand arena, extensive catering tables and a bar facility.  The Inkhundla, with a central bonfire and lantern light, provides magical rustic evenings under the African skies for large groups up to 500 people.

Contact Central Reservations for more information and bookings

ACTIVITIES

The freedom to explore Mlilwane is unique.  Whatever activity you chose, getting amongst zebra, wildebeest, nyala and blesbuck is a daily occurrence.  Mlilwane’s wildlife is amazingly tolerant, allowing for unparalleled memories and photographic moments. All said, our animals are wild animals and we request animals are respected. 

Self-guided activities are truly awesome, while hiring a friendly Swazi guide will enhance your adventure and experience.  All activities, including self-drive, must be back in Rest Camp before dark, with exception of the guided Sunset Drive.  Our Road & Trails Map is on sale in our shops, receptions and at our gates.

Game Drives

Embark on an open 4x4 vehicle with a trained Swazi guide to explore Mlilwane.  Game drives are a wonderfully relaxed opportunity to observe and take stunning pictures of the sanctuary.  There are a number of variations on offer:

  • Sunrise Game Drive (2hr) – Take advantage of the early morning light, and watch nature wake to a new day.  Tea/coffee and a snack are included.
  • Sunset Game Drive (2hr) – A short exploration of the plains before heading up Nyonyane Mountain (the infamous Execution Rock) in time to enjoy the sunset over the distant mountains.  A drink is included.
  • Roan Drive (1.5hr) – A guided excursion visiting the Roan Antelope breeding project, excludes drinks/snacks.
  • Self Drive – Most of Mlilwane’s roads are suitable for normal sedans, with exception of the mountain roads.  Don’t forget your map!

Mountain Biking

Mountain bikes may be hired by the hour for self-guided or guided adventures – or guests may bring their own at no extra cost.  Dirt roads and certain single-track trails for a little more fun give cyclist a wide range of technical options, from the steep mountain to flat gentle game viewing.  Cyclists are always reminded that wildlife has right of way and speeding is not an eco-activity.  Our bikes are well maintained and available at Mlilwane Rest Camp Reception.

Mlilwane is also the home of the ever-popular annual Nedbank Swaziland's Imvelo MTB Classic which draws cyclists from afar in early June.  The race offers 4 distances and is limited to 500 cyclists making it a “true family day out” and a race with real personality.

Horse Riding

There is nothing quite like sitting on an animal in nature! Chubeka Trails is our horse trails arm, with horses catering for beginners to advanced riders of all ages.  Chubeka Trails offers hourly rides throughout the day, a half-day Rock of Execution Trail, and 1-4 night overnight camping trails for 2-8 people.  Weight restrictions apply.  Please see Chubeka Trails for more information.

Guided Walks

Departing from Mlilwane Rest Camp, your Swazi guide will take you along trails focusing on your interest, be it birding or wildlife.  The diverse habitats in close proximity allow for great sightings, including woodland, grassland, forest and aquatic species.  Guided walk includes bottled water.

Self-Guided Walking Trails

An interwoven network of 9 trails covering well over 20km traverse Mlilwane, all well marked and mapped for easy reference.  The trails vary in length and difficulty, weaving together the plains, shallows, mountain and forests.  All hikers and trail runners are requested to sign the hiker's register and indemnity at Reception before walking, and to notify Reception on their return.  The maps are on sale in our shops, at receptions and at our gates.  Our trails are available to anyone who has paid their daily Conservation Fee.

Rest Camp Botanical & Nature Trails

Two exciting new walking trails have been established within the Rest Camp grounds, both following a similar route.  The Botanical Trail highlights about 70 tree and plant species, most of which were planted by hand in the 1960’s.  We encourage guests to walk with tree and bird books to enhance their experience. 

The Nature Trail provides interpretation of historical and environmental information of the area for adults and children.  The Junior Trail forms part of a Kiddies package, along with a short video, a Nature Book and fun recognition on completion of the package.

Nature Education

Time spent in our open Interpretation Centre offers a better understanding of Swaziland's natural heritage and Mlilwane’s history.  Special presentations can be arranged on request for schools and special interest groups.

Swimming Pool & Children’s Play Area

Mlilwane's large swimming pool is located just behind Reception, with a number of braai/BBQ areas and a small children's play area.  Please note that all children must be supervised by an able adult at all times and that the safety of children is the parent/guardian's responsibility. Visitors use the swimming pool at their own risk. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is not liable for any injuries.

Umphakatsi Cultural Experience

Visit Mlilwane's neighbouring Chief's Village for an informative and fun authentic traditional experience.  Our guide will meet the group at our Sangweni Gate, and lead the short walk to the homestead, sharing the do’s and don’ts and facilitating interpretation.  Hosted by our vibrant, energetic and interactive Chief, learn a little siSwati, try your hand at plaiting ‘Lutindzi’ grass or grinding maize.  This is a group activity hosted by our local Chief, giving guests an insight to the way of life in rural Swaziland.

Esitjeni Village Walk

A brand new 2-hour guided walk through the Esitjeni community alongside Mlilwane allows a glimpse of life on a day-to-day basis.  Observe how architecture is changing and fields are tended, walk past the primary school and buy refreshments at the local grocer.  For the rest, it is spontaneous and could include grinding maize, carrying water, building a wall or washing clothes in the stream. Guests meet our guide at Sangweni Gate, from where the circular walk commences into the Esitjeni Community.  Please bring sun hat, sun block, change for the grocer.  The group may be requested to carry a small sack of mealies or the like for interactive experiences.

Directions

Swaziland has 12 borders, making access easy from almost anywhere along our boundry with either South Africa or Mozambique. To assist, we have created a "Suggested Borders" document for you.

Suggested Borders

From Swaziland Border Posts

Ngwenya/Oshoek Border - Gauteng/Mphumalanga

Matsamo/Jeppes Reef Border 

Matsamo/Jeppes Reef Border via Piggs Peak 

Mananga/Border Gate Border

Mananga/Border Gate Border via Hlane

Sandlane/Nerston Border

Sicunuza/Emahlathini Border

Mahamba Border

Lavumisa/Golela Border

Mhlumeni/Goba Border

Lomahasha/Nomaacha Border

From within Swaziland

From Hlane Royal National Park

From Mkhaya Game Reserve

 

Reviews

The reviews shown here are taken directly from TripAdvisor.  We encourage potential guests to visit the pages and read what our guests have said!

Please feel free to post your own review on Tripadvisor:

Mlilwane TripAdvisor Page

"Amazing place to stay and a great staff" - 23 Dec 2016

I loved to stay in Mlilwane because the place is very beautiful, the rooms is comfortable and the common areas are very organized. The staff is great, there are a lot of activities to do and the food is unbelievable with a fare price

"Nice place surrounded by nature" - 2 Dec 2016  

We actually had booked a beehive house but eventually arrived in a luxury cottage. The view was magnificent! We were pleased that we were allowed to sleep in 2 nights. ; In the evening it rained and it still felt a little safer in a stone (thatched roof) house. Unique location with a campfire and a good and cozy restaurant. We walked the trail hippo here. A nice walk of an hour or two on the go with some surprising crocodiles. Highly recommended!

"Great Experience!" - Dec 2016

Mlilwane was a great experience. There's a good mix of locals and tourists, braaing (BBQing), hanging out at the restaurant/bar, and in the very nice party huts (gazebos). The cultural dancing and drums around the fire at night is THE HIT. I loved staying in the behive hut with it's luxury linens, nice water pressure, tea and coffee facilities. The restaurant food and service were excellent. The bartenders were entertaining. I had a terrific time at Mlilwane and would recommend this as a stopover. We didn't use the pool but others enjoyed it.

"Super Experience" - 6 Nov 2016 

The property was beautiful, bed, bathroom and kitchen totally ok but especially the view was breathtaking. The food in the restaurant was very tasty. The fact that you can just walk around freely, this park is amazing.

Hlane Royal National Park is the perfect extension to an Mlilwane holiday, with self catering, group accommodation and camping in the lowveld.