Overview – Mlilwane WS

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.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is the best-known nature reserve in Swaziland (Eswatini), located just outside the hustle and bustle of the Ezulwini Valley. There are many places to stay within the small reserve, but it is also a popular day-visitor destination for locals and tourists alike. No dangerous animals reside on the property, and there are lots of activities available. The land, reclaimed farm land from the 1960s, is Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, although it’s far from pristine.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season Dec to Jan and Jul to Aug (It never gets very busy)
Size 46km² / 18mi²
Altitude 680-1,474m / 2,231-4,836ft

Pros & Cons

  • Low-key, affordable family-friendly destination
  • Several accommodation options, including self-catering and camping
  • Restaurant and barbeque areas for overnight and day visitors
  • Self-drive allowed
  • Safari drives, guided walks, horse riding and mountain biking available
  • Not many large safari animals present
  • All animals have been introduced
  • Small reserve with small game-drive circuit
  • The environment is compromised by invasive vegetation
  • Lack of wilderness appeal
  • Busy with day visitors

Mlilwane WS Safari Reviews

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

Wildlife

Mlilwane is not a place to see big safari animals. Of the Big Five, only leopard is present, but these shy creatures are difficult to spot. Hippo and crocodile can usually be seen at the main dam, and at the waterhole in front of Main Camp. Zebra, blue wildebeest and blesbok love the grassy plains, while greater kudu tend to stick to the patches of forest. Warthog, impala and nyala like to hang out in the camp area.

Scenery

All tourist facilities and roads are in the south of the reserve. Here, open grassland savannah plains stretch to the striking Nyonyane Mountain, with its exposed granite peak known as Execution Rock. The north of the reserve is wilder and includes rolling grassland with ravine forests and rocky outcrops. Exotic eucalyptus and wattle forests dating back to colonial times are still a feature in the reserve.

Weather & Climate

Mlilwane has a Wet season (summer) and a Dry season (winter). Summer and winter is experienced at opposite times as in Europe and North America. Due to the higher altitude, temperatures are mild, and the heat never gets extreme. Afternoon showers are common in the humid summer months from October to April, but it rarely rains all day.

Best Time to Visit

Since animal movement in Mlilwane is controlled, wildlife viewing isn’t much affected by the seasons. However, some of the small creatures might be easier to spot when the grass is less high in the Dry season months from May to September. At this time, animals are more likely to be found drinking at waterholes as well. August and September, the end of this period, are particularly recommended as it gets a bit warmer, and early morning out in the bush is pleasant.

Want to Visit Mlilwane WS?

Mlilwane WS Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Walk, cycle or run in nature
2/5

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is the closest park to Mbabane and, because of that, it can get much busier than the other parks. There are several affordable accommodation options and many activities to choose from, which makes for a popular...

Latest User Review
A highlight of our month-long travels in Southern Africa was walking with the wildlife in Mlilwane.
5/5

One of our first stops on our tour of 6 countries in Southern Africa was Mlilwane Sanctuary in Swaziland. We stayed in a delightful thatched-roof rondavel at Sondza Backpackers, and had great dinners and breakfasts cooked up by the local...