​Expert Reviews – Mlilwane WS

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Lucy Corne   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: November 2017

Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.

Walk, cycle or run in nature
Overall rating

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 family getaway, though the dearth of large mammals makes it a less exciting park for most travellers. But Mlilwane is a great place to enjoy safaris at a different pace – on foot or by bike. You can rent mountain bikes or just walk (or run) around the park freely. Also, if you are planning a few nights in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and need a good base, Reilly’s Rock is highly recommended. Set inside Mlilwane, it’s an all-inclusive guesthouse overlooking the park and is one of the most peaceful accommodation options in the country.

Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Dry season

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Eswatini’s pioneer conservation area
Overall rating

Mlilwane is a low-key, unpretentious reserve on reclaimed farmland. While it’s pleasant enough, this is not the place to come for an authentic bush experience. On the weekend, local families use the day facilities and drive around with their kids to see the introduced animals. I visited on one of those busy weekends and while I wasn’t very impressed, I did appreciate that at least Mlilwane is accessible and affordable for ordinary Swazi people. Signage and a collection of snares have been erected to educate children and adults alike about poaching. All in all, it’s a great conservation effort and the restaurant overlooking a hippo pod is a worthwhile stop-over if you’re heading this way.

Average Expert Rating

  • 2.8/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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