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Where do you find a backpackers INSIDE a game reserve? Sondzela is an easy, safe and peaceful launch pad to Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), located at the southern tip of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.  A super relaxing base to chill and meet other like-minded travellers, guests can get active in Nature or simply enjoy the swimming pool, games room, Hog ‘n Wart Bar and Mlilwane Rest Camp’s facilities just 2km from Sondzela Backpackers.

Accommodation is varied, and guests are encouraged to get out and about participating in Mlilwane’s activities and the many exciting options Eswatini has to offer.  DSTV, laundry and large kitchens and communal braai area are available making this a social hub of note.  Sondzela has a large safe parking area for self-drive guests.

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.  A free Shuttle to and from Malandela's Restaurant & Internet Cafe is available daily at specified times, or guests can walk out to Malkerns and catch taxis. 

Sondzela is an international facility reserved for budget travellers visiting Eswatini.  Sondzela is not available to locals and is reserved for overnight guests only, no day visitors.  We have chosen this route to safeguard the purpose of international travel, with the resulting contribution to the GDP of Eswatini.  Big Game Parks caters for local market within the greater range of our products and parks.   

Essential Information: Please note gates are open for check-in from Sunrise to Sunset, otherwise 24 hour access.  All access is through Mlilwane’s main Sangweni Gate on the Esitjeni road, near Lobamba.

Sondzela Backpackers Information Sheet

Mtn. Biking
Game Drives
Mtn. Bike Trails
Family Friendly
Guided Mtn. Biking
Guided Walks
Horse Riding
Cultural Tours
Swimming Pool


Sondzela has a small fence around the perimeter beyond which nyala, warthog, impala, blesbuck, zebra and wildebeest are a constant presence, seen from the gardens and rondavels.  Another likely sighting is the little slender mongoose, darting along trails and between bushes. Mlilwane Conservation provides information on the species that inhabit the sanctuary.

Find out more about Mlilwane conservation information


Sondzela is a transient place, where guests meet and mingle with other like-minded travellers.  Much socializing is done, friends and memories made. Watch out for the inquisitive warthogs – they are keen to share your lunch!  Please don’t feed the animals. Sondzela guests are welcome to make use of Mlilwane’s Rest Camp facilities just 1km walk or 2,5 km drive away.

Hog 'n Wart Bar

The old double carport was converted into this social space, with a manned bar providing an assortment of local and South African beers, ciders and wine.  Sporting events viewed on the elevated TV always gets the crowd active.  Playing a game of poole is an easy way to break the ice.

Swimming Pool

This one is a must on hot summer days – simply irresistible after a morning activity.  Besides, its holiday!  Cool off, and slither onto the paving for a little African sun, just like a good ol’ croc!

Meals & Braais

Breakfast and dinner is served daily, prepared and served under the trees around the large communal fire.  Bookings are made with the ladies at Reception.

A light continental breakfast includes eggs, toast, and cereals.  Guests wanting to experience Swazi culture can try out the indengane, a thin porridge mealie meal.

Dinners ranging from Swazi bush braais to venison potjies (stews) are prepared on the open fire in a very sociable setting.  

Lunch is not served at Sondzela. Mlilwane's Hippo Haunt Restaurant is highly recommended with a great A La Carte Menu, or our ladies can suggest alternatives while you are exploring the Malkerns and Ezulwini Valleys close by.

Self-catering Kitchen

Our large kitchens are well equipped, making self-catering easy and pleasurable. Comprehensive supermarkets are available in Malkerns, Ezulwini and Matsapha.  Mahlanya fresh produce market at the Malkerns junction is a must-do Swazi market experience.


Large concrete basins with hot and cold water are available for hand washing.  Alongside these are washing lines for drying clothes.

Free Shuttle

A FREE Shuttle to and from Malandela's Restaurant & Internet Cafe is available daily, leaving in the morning around 07h00 and in the evening around 16h00.


Mlilwane’s activities are what stand this experience apart – horse ride, mountain bike, or simply walk among many tolerant wildlife species.  The best part is that you don’t even need a guide, except on the horses.  The self-guided trails and mountain biking can keep you busy for hours.  Spend a few days and top up on your fitness, running or hiking along the trails before travelling further.  It is not often such opportunity presents itself – stunning scenery, wildlife and trails!

Horse Riding & Game Drives

These activities depart from Mlilwane Rest Camp, a quick 15 min walk from Sondzela Backpackers, or a 15 minute drive by internal roads. 

Self-drive & Mountain Biking

These activities are available from Sondzela.  Mlilwane maps are on sale at Reception.

The Umphakatsi Cultural Experience & the Esitjeni Village Walk

Two wonderful group activities for 4 or more people provide an insight into traditional Swazi life.

Day Tours

Unforgettable Big Game experiences are on offer at Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve (1h15 – 1h30 drive).  Guests get there on their own steam.  Self-drive and guided safaris are available at Hlane, and prebooked guided Day Tours at Mkhaya include conservation fee, game drives and lunch.

Beyond Mlilwane, Eswatini offers days of activity and adventure – book through our Reception for White Water Rafting, Caving, Quad Biking, Tubing, Malolotja Canopy Tour and various cultural tours.


 Find out more about Mlilwane's activities


Eswatini (formerly 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 Eswatini Border Posts

Ngwenya/Oshoek Border

Matsamo/Jeppes Reef Border

Mananga/Border Gate Border

Mananga/Border Gate Border via Hlane

Sicunuza/Emahlathini Border

Mahamba Border

Sandlane/Nerston Border

Lavumisa/Golela Border

Mhlumeni/Goba Border

Lomahasha/Nomaacha Border



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:

Sondzela TripAdvisor Page


Extend your Eswatini holiday - Upgrade to Hlane or Mlilwane, or book a night on trail with Chubeka Trails!