Overview – Mkhaya GR
Mkhaya is the prime game reserve in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland (Eswatini). Self-drive is not allowed in this private reserve. Excellent guides take guests around in open safari vehicles instead, and walks are offered as well. The reserve acts as a sanctuary for rhino and sable antelope, and most key species are kept in large enclosures. Visitors may have the opportunity to track both white and black rhino. There is a good variety of wildlife (though no lions) and luxury accommodation.
Pros & Cons
- Sanctuary for endangered species
- Good place to see black rhino
- Well-run private reserve with excellent guides
- Open-vehicle drives and walking safaris offered
- Excellent safari lodge offering a great bush experience
- Safari animals are kept in separate enclosures
- Big cats aren’t seen
- Small game-drive circuit
- Lack of wilderness appeal
- No self-drive allowed
- Only one expensive lodge
Mkhaya supports the only black rhino, tsessebe, sable, buffalo and Livingstone's eland populations in Swaziland, as well as being home to roan antelope, white rhino, hyena and other species. Smaller animals that often come through camp include warthog, nyala, suni, and grey and red duiker. Leopards are around, but these shy creatures aren’t easily seen.
Mkhaya’s habitat consists mostly of acacia savannah with some thicker woodland in the north of the reserve. Several rivers cross the reserve, each fringed with beautiful riverine forest. Spring and summer bring a lot of color with the beautiful wildflowers that grow here.
Weather & Climate
Mkhaya has a defined winter and summer (at opposite times as those seasons in Europe and North America), which corresponds with a Dry and Wet season. The wet summer months tend to be humid and very hot. It rains regularly in this season, but mostly in the late afternoons only and seldom for the whole day. Dry winter months offer warm days, but the nights and early mornings are cold.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife viewing is not much affected by the seasons in Mkhaya, as animals are mostly kept in drive-in enclosures. That said, the best time to visit is in the dry winter months, from May to September, when the climate is mild and rain minimal. The shoulder months, April and May and September and October, are particularly agreeable as it is less cold at night and in the early morning than in mid-winter.
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Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.
Open air lodges, inquisitive visitors
While you can visit on a day tour, if you want to really experience Mkhaya Game Reserve then it’s worth spending a night or two at Stone Camp. Day visitors aren’t allowed here, so it’s particularly peaceful and depending on the season...