Overview – Hlane Royal NP

Alan Murphy
Expert
By Alan Murphy

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the Swaziland section of their 'South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland' guide.

Alan has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the Swaziland section of their 'South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland' guide.

Alan has authored the Swaziland section of Lonely Planet's 'South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland' guide.

Alan researched and wrote about Swaziland for Lonely Planet.

Once the royal hunting ground, Hlane Royal National Park is now one of the top parks for visitors to Swaziland (Eswatini) with four of the Big Five present (buffalo are absent). The park was close to depleted of wildlife in the early 1960s, but with Big Game Parks’ conservation efforts and the reintroduction of animals, the park has recovered greatly. Animals are managed in different areas, which takes away some of the wilderness appeal, but it works as an affordable, low-key safari destination.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season Dec to Jan and Jul to Aug (It never gets very busy)
Size 220km² / 85mi²
Altitude 210-330m / 689-1,083ft

Pros & Cons

  • Four of the Big Five present (buffalo absent)
  • Great birdlife
  • Affordable self-catering accommodation
  • Family friendly
  • Restaurant overlooking a waterhole
  • Self-drive allowed except in the lion enclosure
  • Game drives, bush walks and mountain biking available
  • Big animals are kept in separate enclosures
  • Small game-drive circuit
  • Lion enclosure is only accessible on guided tours
  • Lack of wilderness appeal

Hlane Royal NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Hlane has a good variety of safari animals. Four of the Big Five are present. Buffalo are absent, while rhino and elephant are kept in an enclosed area surrounding the lodge – they come to drink at the waterhole in front of the chalets. Lions are kept in another enclosure and can be seen on guided game drives only. Other wildlife includes giraffe, hippo and a variety of antelopes.

Scenery

Hlane stretches out over a tract of typical lowveld. This low-lying, flat land is interspersed with thickets and riverine forest next to the sandy rivers that meander through the park. The east of the park reaches to the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains.

Weather & Climate

Summer and winter in Hlane are experienced at opposite times than in north America or Europe. The hot summer corresponds with the Wet season. Winters are pleasantly warm and dry, but nighttime tends to be chilly and warm clothing is necessary for early morning drives.

Best Time to Visit

Since animal movement in Hlane is controlled to some extent, wildlife viewing is good throughout the year. The best months are, however, in the Dry winter season from May to September when the bush thins out considerably. The end of this period is particularly recommended as animals gather around waterholes and the mornings are less chilly than in the middle of winter.

Want to Visit Hlane Royal NP?

Hlane Royal NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Up close with rhinos
4/5

One of the most under-appreciated parks in southern Africa, Hlane Royal National Park is the place for rhino lovers. Not only are sightings practically guaranteed, you can also opt for a drive which allows you to exit the vehicle and walk...

Latest User Review
5/5

Spectacular! With our knowledgeable guide, we saw giraffes lunching on leaves, a pride of lions snoozing, elephants flapping their huge ears to keep cool, hippos submerged in water pools, and most special of all, walked close to about 20...