A landlocked country in southern Africa, Swaziland is bordered by Mozambique to the northeast and by South Africa to the southeast, south, west and north.
The country is divided in four areas known locally as the high, middle, and low or bushlands and the Lubombo Plateau. The highland on the west rise to an altitude of above 6,000 ft, and has an average altitude of 3,500 ft. The middle land averages about 2,000 ft and the lowland or bushland to about 1,000 ft. The entire country is traversed by rivers or streams, making it one of the best watered areas in southern Africa
The highland regions has a humid near temperate climate with 40 to 90 inches of annual rainfall. The middleland is sub-tropical and somewhat drier, with 30 to 45 inches of annual rainfall and the lowland is almost tropical and definitely sub-humid, receiving 20 to 35 inches of rain annually. Rainfall tends to be concentrated in a few violent storms. Temperatures range from about -3.4°C (26°F) in the winter to over 29.4°C (85°F) in the summer.
TRANSPORT & GETTING AROUND
Scan Air Charter based at Matsapha Airport offer air charter facilities to all towns and villages throughout Swaziland and neighbouring territories.
A number of bus services, express and regular, connecting the main towns. Minibus taxis run along the shorter routes although the prices are slightly higher. Taxis are available in Mbabane and Manzini.
Hitching here is fairly easy on main roads but you'll have a lot of competition from the locals. Never hitch alone.
National Parks & Game Reserves
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Hlane Royal National Park
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Mlawula Nature Reserve
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Phophonyane Nature Reserve
MALOLOTJA NATURE RESERVE
Malolotja Nature Reserve is situated in the north-west of the country approximately 30km north of Mbabane on the road to Pigg's Peak. It covers an area of 18 000 hectares of spectacular mountainous scenery making it a prime highveld conservation area. The altitude in the reserve ranges from Ngwenya Mountain, Swaziland's second highest mountain to the deep Nkomati River Valley.
The wildlife in the reserve consists mainly of antelope species but is more reknown for its variety of birdlife with over 280 species being recorded, many of them rare and the variety includes Southern Bald-ibis which can can seen nesting on the cliffs near the Malolotja falls, Blue Swallows, Blue Crane, Striped Flufftail, Stanley's Bustard, Blackwinged Plover, Knysna Lourie, Narina Trogon, Blue Swallow, Buffstreaked Chat, Chorister Robin, Broadtailed Warbler and Gurney's Sugarbird.
The park is a botanist's paradise, with is great variety wild-flower and rare plants, several of which are only found in this part of Africa, including six species of proteas, a pincushion protea and four species of heaths, where numerous species of orchids and lilies and many different types of tree.
There are limited roads, but a number of hiking trails ranging from one day walks to week-long hikes. You need to take with you your own food, water and cooking facilities - fires are not permitted outside the base camp. The reserve gates open from 0600 to 1800 during the winter season and 0630 to 1830 in the summer time and an entrance fee in payable
There is a rest camp with camping and cabin accommodation. Log cabins and camping facilities are available near the reserve entrance, whilst more remote campsites are accessible via overnight hiking trails.
HLANE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
Hlane is situated in the North-east, approximately one hours drive from Manzini. It is the largest protected area in Swaziland and borders with the Mlawula Nature Reserve and Mbuluzi Game Reserve. The park has an extensive network of roads, linking camps, waterholes and other features. For the most part the roads are passable by 2 wheel drive vehicle except after heavy rains, when 4 wheel drive is advisable
The flat terrain of the Hlane and its hardwood vegetation and shallow pans attracts great herds of animals during the dry winter months. White rhinos can be seen here as well many antelope species. Lion and elephants have been reintroduced to the park but they are kept in an enclosure. Bird life is prolific with species including southerly nesting colony of Marabou Stork. Whitebacked Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture, Lappetfaced Vulture and the occasional Cape Vulture, Redbilled Buffalo Weaver ,Threestreaked Tchagra, Scimitarbilled Woodhoopoe, Longtailed Shrike, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, and Longcrested Eagle are just a few of the types of bird found here
. Maps are available from the gate.
Accommodation is provided in two scenic camps,
Bhubesi Camp overlooks the Umbuluzane River and offers modern self-catering camp of three spacious family cottages.
Ndlovu Camp faces onto a active waterhole, where elephant and rhino come to drink and different types of bird can be seen including Burchell's Starling, Brownheaded Parrot, Woodland Kingfisher, Redheaded Weaver and Crested Barbe. A self-catering rest camp with five fully-equipped thatched huts and a large camping ground.
MBULUZI GAME RESERVE
Located in northeast Swaziland, Mbuluzi is is low-lying reserve situated at the bottom of the Lebombo mountains. It is popular for its birdlife boasting over 400 different specie including Narina Trogon, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Crested Guineafowl, Yellowspotted Nicator, Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Blackheaded, Goliath and Whitebacked Night Herons, Cuckoo Hawk, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Pennantwinged Nightjar, Palm Swift, Crowned Hornbill, Dusky Flycatcher, Thickbilled Weaver, Redbacked Mannikin, African Broadbill, Black Sunbird, Woodland Kingfisher.
The park is easily accessible on sealed roads and has many hiking trails ranging from 2 to 5 hours.
Overlooking the Mlawula river, accommodation is offered in the form of Game Lodges . Each lodge sleeps 8 people and fully equipped and available on a self-catering or catered for basis. Visitors have access to game viewing vehicles, and are free to roam the area on well marked guided or self guided trails. A bird hide is available overlooking the dam. Night drives are permitted for Lodge residents. There are no facilities for camping.
MLAWULA NATURE RESERVE
Lying in the northeast of the country with the entrance located about 10km north of Simunye. Mlawula covers an area of approximately 16,500 hectares, the terrain of which consists of flat plains and the Lebombo mountains. Antelope species can be seen but it's the bird life that makes it an attraction, with over 350 different species found here, such as the African Finfoot, Thickbilled Cuckoo, Lesser Blackwinged Plover, African Broadbill, Black Coucal, Yellowspotted Nicator,Scalythroated Honeyguide, Bearded Robin, Grey Sunbird, Redbilled Helmetshrike, and Pinkthroated Twinspot
The reserve also has about 1035 plant species including 55 alien species.
MLILWANE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY -
Located near Lobamba, between Manzini and Mbabane and easily accessible from Ezulwini and Malkerns. Mlilwane is a private reserve and is the oldest (established in the 1950's) and most visited of Swazi parks.
Animals that can be found in this park include zebra, giraffe, many different antelope, crocodile, hippo and a variety of birdlife. Walking, cycling and horse riding is permitted in the reserve and there are many vehicle and walking trails
there is a range of accommodation on offer including camping, carvanning, rest camps, backpackers place. and an exclusive lodge
The Main Rest Camp offers rustic en-suite wooden huts, a large family cottage
Sondzela Backpackers Lodge, offers twin bedded rooms and dorms and a number of traditional "beehive" huts
Timbali Caravan Park has sites and accommodation in rondavels and caravans and has a swimming pool and restaurant Mlilwane is also a budget traveller's mecca.
Nyonyane Camp with self-contained facilities in comfortable wooden cottages on a self catering basis.
MKHAYA GAME RESERVE
This small private game reserve is located in south eastern part of the country covering an area of approximately 7 500 ha. Black and white rhino, elephant, buffalo, roan and sable antelope are among some of the wildlife found here and well as the indigenous and rare Nguni cattle. Another park where many species of bird can be spotted including Melba Finch, African Green Pigeon, Whitebellied Sunbird, Redbilled Oxpecker, Plumcoloured Starling, White Helmetshrike, Brubru, Redbacked Shrike, Scalythroated Honeyguide, Grey Hornbill and Purple Roller, Greyheaded and Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellowbreasted Apalis, Goldentailed Woodpecker, Purplecrested Lourie, Yellowspotted Nicator, Southern Boubou and several varieties of Robin
The name Mkhaya is derived from the Mkhaya tree (a member of the Acacia family) which can be found throughout the park. Although guided walking in the park is allowed, travel by vehicle is restricted to guided game drives in open top landrovers
PHOPHOYANE NATURE RESERVE
Located, approximate 60 miles south of Kruger National Park, in northwestern Swaziland close to Pigg's Peak. This is a quite peaceful and enchanting park, also know as Swaziland's "Garden of Een".
The wildlife found here includes banded mongooses, the rare red duiker deer, cape clawless otter, vervet monkeys with over 230 recorded species of bird.