Why to visit the smallest country in the Southern hemisphere?

One of the smallest countries in Africa – Swaziland – has a rich culture and heritage. It’s very obvious to be an absolute monarchy – references to the King are everywhere. It was recently – in April 2018 – renamed to eSwatini. The Swazi way of life is humble and friendly, peaceful and civil – making tourists feel truly welcome and safe.

Why did we want to go there? Natural tranquility. The 3 game parks in the country as referred to as “The Kingdom of Swaziland’s Big Game Parks”:
– Hlane Royal National Park
– Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
– Mkhaya Game Reserve

We visited the first two. Because of time constraints we didn’t make it to Mkhaya Game Reserve, a refuge for endangered species.


Hlane Royal National Park


After the unique experience of crossing the South Africa – Swaziland border on our own (no difficulties encountered – only a funny, very bureaucratic, formalistic endeavor), we enjoyed our first evening in eSwatini sipping a glass of wine (or a can of coke) while enjoying the view of a bunch of white rhinos only a few meters ahead of us (separated by an iron wire). Not too bad…

Originally, we wanted to do the Ehlatsini Bush Trails, offering 2 full days of walking and overnight camping. As we needed two additional people to join though, this wasn’t an option after all. So we needed to find something else… We chose to limit our stay at Hlane to 1 night and then taking 2 overnights at Mlilwane, the bigger of both parks.

The next morning we went on a 1,5 hour bush walk with a park ranger. Nice guy. Mostly looking for tracks, not too much wildlife though, except for a turtle and a woodpecker… Nah, not too exciting, but enjoyed the walk anyway. No one else around, quite – just soaking up the silence of nature.

Afterwards, we explored the game park, using a map we got from the reception desk. Not the most accurate or easy-to-read map we’ve ever seen, but it worked. Happy to see a cool marabou again, some giraffe from up close and a white rhino from really close… Amusing.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary


In the early afternoon of that same day we made our way to Mlilwane. Although Hlane has it’s positives, Mlilwane was – for us – next level. Arriving at the sanctuary alone was very impressive.

As it’s a sanctuary, you’re able to get a lot closer to the animals, as generations have lived there without any poaching. A lot of trails to choose from. We could very well use our 2 overnights to explore most of them by foot and then finish it off on our last morning with a mountain bike tour. All on our own of course. Ideal place to do so…

Don’t expect to see big game here. There’s blesbok, nyala, wildebeest, zebra, warthogs and beautiful birds like a widowbird, red bishop and ibis. It’s the experience of walking amongst them and taking a good and close look at them (a lot closer than on the Wolhuter Wilderness Trail) that makes the experience. Loved it.

Other Countries we visited
Have a look at the other countries we ‘achievied’ to visit, and other Achievies…