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.
Mlawula Nature Reserve is more low-key than its popular neighbor Hlane NP. It protects a wild tract of beautiful undisturbed bush in Swaziland (eSwatini), but wildlife is rather scarce and skittish. As there are no dangerous animals in the reserve, Mlawula is best explored on foot. With a network of 50kms of trails, there are plenty of opportunities to explore. Fishing and mountain biking are also allowed, but you’ll need your own gear. Birding is outstanding with over 350 species recorded. Raptors are particularly well represented.
Best Time to GoJune to September (Dry season, best wildlife viewing)
The stunning scenery of Mlaluwa is best appreciated when hiking one of its many trails. A map is available at the entrance gate. The trails in the Lubombo Mountains provide excellent views across Swaziland to the west, and as far as the Mozambique coast to the east. The reserve features a plateau, which is home to unique flora including rare species of cycads. The trails on the plateau lead visitors past ancient caves, pools and waterfalls.
Weather & Climate
The weather and climate of Mlawula is comparable to that of Swaziland in general. More info:
Mlawula can be visited throughout the year, but the dry months from June to September are best for wildlife viewing. At this time, the bush is not as thick and animals head for rivers and other water sources. As Mlawula isn’t primarily a wildlife viewing destination, you might prefer the wet summer months when the scenery is lush and green, and birding is at its best (this is the time migratory birds are present). The summer months from October to May can be very hot though, with regular afternoon rains. April and September are beautiful transitional months.
Mlawula is quite accessible and any vehicle is usually fine for getting around the reserve. It is located about 100km/60mi from Manzini, and the drive takes about one hour and 40 minutes.
Health & Safety
Please read our malaria and vaccinations page for Swaziland, and our general wildlife viewing safety precautions page for more info: