This blog is long due so let’s get on with it.
The beginning of May I was invited to go on an educational trip to the Big Game Parks of Swaziland. These are: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Hlane and Mkhaya. I was so excited that this trip was organised because until now I never had stayed without guests in Swaziland and it would just be nice to spend some more time in this beautiful part of Southern Africa. Swaziland is a small kingdom bordering South Africa and Mozambique. A trip into this part of the world can ideally be combined with the Kruger National Park, the beaches of Mozambique, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve and the private game reserves of KwaZulu-Natal. Swaziland is also a perfect self drive destination and wonderful for those that like to combine nature with some adventure stuff like mountain biking, white water rafting, horse riding or caving. Accommodation varies from Backpackers to beautiful lodges like Reilly’s Rock in Mlilwane and stone camp in Mkhaya.
I was very happy that a friend of mine joined me on this trip because when we drove from Jo’burg to Swaziland the weather was horrific and the road turned out to be not so ‘lekker’. (so guys, if you go to Swaziland, N4 from Jo’burg is the way to go and not N12 like we did….). It took us quite a long time to get to the border but once in Swaziland, all went super smooth. The first night we stayed at Reilly’s Rock in Mlilwane. I had already send clients here before and knew it was a beautiful place but I never had experienced it myself. It’s the most upmarket accommodation in Mlilwane in colonial style. It used to be the family home of the Reilly Family, founders of Biggameparks and conservation in Swaziland. So we were in very good company. For my Dutch readers, prince Bernard used to hide away here and supported conversation in Swaziland in a big way. You can see pictures of him in the lounge. At the lodge we were welcomed by Ruth, Lusanda and Mike. Ruth the lodge manager and Lusanda and Mike the marketing team of Biggameparks. The place is absolutely magic to me.
We took a little drive with Stu, up to Execution Rock. The views were magnificent and the stress of the long drive from Jo’burg was gone within minutes. Dinner was served around the fire outside and consisted of DELICIOUS home baked bread & soup, ‘braai’ meats, salads and dessert.
The animals don’t feel threatened at all, they know they are safe, so some Klipspringer joined us for breakfast.
After breakfast we went to visit the beehive huts, which is more budget accommodation but beautifully done and all ensuite. I’ve stayed there many many times with guests so I know the place well. The huts are very spacious and all have 2 beds. There are also family units with 4 beds.
In the afternoon it was time to leave this park and go to the next stop, Hlane. This is a completely different set up. There is no electricity so at night the room is lit up with oil lamps. Hlane is famous for it’s white rhino trackings so in the morning we got up close and personal with some of these giants. Hlane also has a lion concession and in the afternoon we were lucky enough to spot 1 Lion King. For a minute we thought he was going to hunt down an impala but unfortunately he decided to lay down and rest a bit more (lions sleep up to 20 hours per day..)
Our guide was amazing and very calm. By the way, before I forget, ALL the guides during our trip were fantastic, knowledgeable and you could just see their passion for the bush.
Hlane also offers a lot of very well appointed self catering cottages which is ideal for people that don’t want to get disturbed at all.
After Hlane it was time to move on to our next stop, the cherry on the pie, Mkhaya. Since long on my wish list and now finally I made it here! I actually just want to show you pictures of Mkhaya. It’s a magical place set in a forest with Stone Camp Cottages that don’t have windows. So you sleep in the middle of nowhere and in the morning you wake up and see Nyala graze around your cottage. It’s an incredible place, fantastic guides, famous for the black Rhino. Only 12 cottages. Is also beautiful for a Honeymoon destination. Mkhaya is the most isolated park of the 3 and also the most luxurious one. I would say 4 star but who cares about stars anyway? It’s all about nature, the Swazi people and the experience. To me it was like a fairy tale forest but being Dutch, my English is perhaps a bit limited to exactly explain so best is you go and see for your self!!
Oh, I could tell so much more about the wonderful game parks, the lovely people we met and spoiled us rotten but you must just go for yourself. It is the perfect spot to escape the World Cup madness without having to go too far away. You can make bookings through Extraordinary Travel or check out the web site, www.biggameparks.org. Thanks to everyone from Biggameparks for making this trip so special!!