After crossing the Oshoek border crossing into Swaziland from South Africa, we made our way to the Malolotja Nature Reserve. Malolotja is in the highveld on the edge of the Drakensburg mountain range. The nature reserve was lovely with hiking trails throughout. While none of the big five are present, there were many antelope and zebra.
Unfortunately it rained all night and we decided to hit the road first thing the next morning. From Malolotja we headed down to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in the Ezulwini Valley. The sanctuary is home to many zebra, wildebeest, antelope, crocodiles and hippo, and as you drive from registration to the camp sites you will see it all! We absolutely loved Mlilwane as it was the first place we have been where you can go hike/bike/walk/run around (although you must sign your life away at the front desk first).
Running the trails through Mlilwane was the highlight of the stay with the animals so close by. After an experience in South Africa of a wildebeest charging across the road in front of us, we got a little nervous running past them but watching a crocodile sunbathing was a great experience.
Mlilwane is a popular stop for tour groups and overland buses with visitors from a wide range of countries. On the Friday we arrived a traditional Swaziland dance ceremony was performed which was entertaining to watch.
Ezulwini Valley is one of Swaziland’s major tourist destinations and is home to the Mantenga Craft Market, House on Fire (home of the Bushfire Festival every year) and the Lobamba Royal Village. Hiking, mountain biking and horse riding tours are all available in the area.
From Mlilwane we headed to Hlane Royal National Park. Hlane National Park is the only nature reserve in Swaziland with lions present. Unfortunately on arrival, we were informed that they were kept in a separate part of the park and we would have to organise a guided game drive to be able to see them. This was a little disappointing as we have the vehicle to self-drive everywhere. We gave the lion visit a miss but saw many elephants, rhino, giraffe and hippos. The park has a large rhino population and it’s almost impossible to drive around the park without spotting one.
We continued our way back to South Africa, passing through Big Bend en-route to Durban. The views of the rolling hills and valleys in southern Swaziland were stunning, only spoilt by a sugar cane processing plant pumping black smoke into the sky. After a simple border crossing at Golelawe were back in South Africa.
Here is some more pictures from Swaziland, we hope you enjoyed!