Mlilwane is ideal for: Outdoor Enthusiasts • Families • Day Outings • Educational Groups • Conferencing and Events • Camping & Backpacking • Overlanders • Swimming • Stunning Restaurant
Welcome to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Swaziland's pioneer conservation area and a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in the Kingdom's Ezulwini Valley, 'Valley of Heavens'. Located between Mbabane and Manzini, 24hr gate access is offered to the Sanctuary (except initial check-in which must occur before 6pm) enabling guests to enjoy the neighbouring tourist hubs of Ezulwini and Malkerns with their many unique attractions and craft shops.
The name 'Mlilwane' ('Little Fire' in siSwati) was derived from the numerous fires started by lightening strikes on the Mlilwane Hill but now holds significance as the little fire that started a big conservation movement in Swaziland resulting in the saving of over 22 species from local extinction across the three reserves.View Mlilwane's Fauna Species List.
The Sanctuary covers 4,560 hectares and comprises of a southern and northern section. The southern section's grassland plains stretch up to the striking Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak known as the 'Rock of Execution'. All of Mlilwane's accommodation, dining and activity options are concentrated in this southern section of the park, with the exception of guided trails which enter the pristine northern section.
Stay in a wide range of accommodation (Camping, Beehive Villages, Rest camp Huts, Self-catering cottages, the affordable Sondzela Backpackers and the luxurious Reilly's Rock Hilltop Lodge), enjoy the sanctuary's nature by foot, horse, mountain bike, self-drive or guided game drives to name just a few of its many activities, and savour a delicious meal at the popular Hippo Haunt Restaurant overlooking an exceptionally picturesque pool teaming with birdlife or one of the parks other dining options. Just fancy relaxing? Sit back, enjoy the resident game walking by or cool off by taking a dip in the rest camp's swimming pool.
Accommodation at Mlilwane
Camping at Mlilwane Rest Camp
Mlilwane's value-for-money camping ground is situated under an impressive, mature Eucalyptus forest with demarcated campsites. Each site has a Braai/BBQ Area while select sites have water and electricity points. An ablution Block is nearby.
Traditional beehive architecture has been adopted to offer and authentic flavour of Swazi culture.
Rest Camp Huts
The Rest Camp Huts were the first accommodation offered on Mlilwane, made en-suite in latter years. These huts are located in the central Rest Camp area near the Hippo Haunt Restaurant and within easy reach of the Swimming Pool, Activities Center and Braa
Situated in the greater Mlilwane Rest Camp, a selection of self-catering cottages overlook the scenic Mhlambanyatsi River valley. All units are within walking distance of the Swimming pool, Activities Centre and Hippo Haunt Restaurant. Room Only or B&B
Located within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Sondzela Backpackers, which offers a wide range of excellent value accommodation in stunning surroundings with its own Swimming Pool, Bar, Laundry, DSTV & Games Room exclusively for travellers visiting Swazila
Activities at Mlilwane
Mountain Bike Hire (per hour)
Hire a mountain bike to get up close and personal to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary's rich flora and fauna. Bikes are well maintained and available at Mlilwane Rest Camp Reception.
Guided Mountain Biking (per hour)
Enjoy Swazi-guided mountain biking through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
Umphakatsi Cultural Experience
Visit Mlilwane's neighbouring real Chief's Village to experience authentic Swazi culture.
Sunrise/Sunset Game Drive (2hr)
Enjoy a Swazi-guided Sunrise or Sunset game drive through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
Game Drive (1.5hr)
Embark on one of Mlilwane's open Game Viewer vehicles with an Swazi guide to explore Mlilwane's nature-rich plains.
Guided Services (per hour)
Enlist the help of a local Swazi guide to explore Mlilwane according to your area of interest.
Guided Birding Walk (2.5hr)
Enjoy an Swazi-guided Bird Walk through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Includes bottled water.
Horse Riding - Kiddie Ride
Treat your child to a memorable little horse ride at Mlilwane!
Horse Riding - per hour (1-3hrs)
Enjoy a Swazi-guided horse trail through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Horse Riding - Rock of Execution Challenge (3-4hrs)
Take the Rock of Execution Challenge! Guests are met at Mlilwane Rest Camp at around 8am to embark on a wonderful scenic 4hr trail to the top of Nyonyane Mountain
Horse Riding - Fully-catered Overnight Cave Trail
Enjoy a wonderfully unique horse trail through the stunning plains of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary culminating in a night spent in a cave to remember.
Horse Riding - Fully-catered 2 Night Klipspringer Trail
Get back to nature on this fantastic 2-night horse trail taking in the local flora and fauna and sleeping out by the Lusushwana River.
Self-Guided Walking Trails - FREE
Enjoy a self-guided hike through Mlilwane's game-studded plains free of charge.
Nature Education - FREE
Visit Mlilwane's Interpretation Centre to gain a better understanding of Swaziland's natural heritage free of charge
Swimming - FREE
Take a dip in Mlilwane's beautiful swimming pool with stunning views.
Children's Play Area - FREE
Mlilwane offers a set of children's swings close to the bbq/braai area and swimming pool.
Dining at Mlilwane
The Hippo Haunt Restaurant
Located within Mlilwane Rest Camp is the Hippo Haunt Restaurant which overlooks an exceptionally picturesque hippo pool where guests can admire the resident hippos, crocodiles and prolific birdlife while enjoying delicious cuisine.
Prefer to cater for yourself? No problem. In addition to self-catering accommodation options, Mlilwane offers braai/bbq areas and a shop selling snacks.
Mlilwane Gallery (click to expand)
Directions for Mlilwane
Directions from Amsterdam
Directions from Lavumisa/Golela Border
Directions from Lomahasha/Namaacha Border
Directions from Mahamba Border
Directions from Mananga Border
Directions from Matsamo/Jeppes Reef Border
Directions from Mhlumeni/Goba Border
Directions from Ngwenya/Oshoek Border
Directions from Sandlane/Nerston Border
Directions from Emahlatini (Houtkop)/Sicunusa
Directions from Manzini Town
Reviews at Mlilwane
Liz Eldridge - USA on 02 October 2012
Sondzela was terrific, not at all what I expected from a backpackers. And the staff were marvelous. The beehive hut at Mlilwane Main Camp, and the mountain biking, were fun, too. I'm very glad that after all these years I finally took the time to experience a Swazi park.
Highbury High School - South Africa on 28 September 2012
I would like to say a sincere thank-you for all your help in arranging the bookings for Mlilwane & Sondzela. The boys and staff thoroughly enjoyed the stay and we were certainly well fed! I really enjoyed sleeping in the beehive hut at Mlilwane – a true Swazi experience
Toddy Landry - on 07 February 2012
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Mkhaya and would steer others towards the reserve without hesitation. We actually spent time in all 3 reserves - Mlilwane, Hlane and Mkhaya. Each reserve offered a different sort of experience and we were thoroughly impressed by all three and by Swaziland as a whole.
Steven - USA on 18 October 2012
It isn't often that one can walk a trail through a wildlife sanctuary. Usually it is required to ride in a vehicle but at Wlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary there are a number of trails for hikers. The Hippo Trail (approximately 4 miles) is well marked and takes the hiker through low vegetation areas where Zebras, Impalas and my favorites, Warthogs graze and generally hang out. Hippos are in the area but I didn't see any that day. I did not stay overnight on the property but came just for the hike and it was well worth it. The scenery is beautiful and though the trail was muddy in some places (it had rained hard a few days before) it was a fairly easy hike. There are some small hills, some bridges made of tree limbs and one part of the trail is just a bit steep. But nothing that should keep anyone who is a regular hiker and in fairly decent shape from trying. This would be a fun hike for families. There is something to interest everyone from birders to those who just like being in nature. And, where else can you walk so close to some of Africa's most interesting animals? There are cross country bicycles for rent on this property and some fun places to ride.
Regina - USA on 05 October 2012
I absolutely adored my time at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. I stayed there during a tour of southern Africa in July/August 2012. The beehive huts were my favourite part. They were set up two to a hut with a bathroom ensuite and two single beds. It was warm and comfortable, even during cold winter nights. I slept perfectly well. I appreciated being able to experience something a little cultural during my stay. The restaurant at the hotel has a lovely continental breakfast. There is a cook who will make your eggs however you like. In the dining room, the windows overlook a river where you can see hippo and crocodile. The lodging also offers a variety of activities to take part in during your stay. I did a mountain bike tour and got up close and personal with some zebra and python. You can also do a horseback tour, game drives, and swim in the pool. We also did some caving and swam in hot springs, but those activities were offered through a separate organization. As with many accommodations in Southern Africa, be prepared to see some wildlife throughout the grounds. Mind your own business and they will not bother you. Overall I would recommend the wildlife sanctuary to anyone.
Johan Weideman - South Africa on 10 April 2012
We had a peaceful stay at a stunning place. Will be back!
David Mitchell - Australia on 07 February 2012
Had a wonderful three nights in Mlilwane in May. Was the quiet time so not many around which, suited us well. Service provided was still great and everyone was willing to help, even though it was just the two of us. The night ranger had a wealth of knowledge told us about the local animals and sites by the fire at night. Place was better than expected and the food provided was a bonus. Really loved it and thanks!
Miriam Hofmann - Germany on 25 December 2011
We loved staying in the Beehive Huts - simple but an exceptional experience. Very nice stay.
Jessica Grauer - Germany on 14 December 2011
The sanctuary is very nice and very cute because there are only animals that aren't 'dangerous'. We liked the warthogs that just walked by, and at night we saw a bushbaby in a tree and had so many impalas close to our hut. The restaurant is located at a little lake and you can spot some crocodiles and birds! The hut itself was simple but very clean. We enjoyed our stay. Out of the ordinary.
Lucienne Mieth - Germany on 29 November 2011
If you book Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, book a beehive because you can get the ordinary everywhere else. It was fun, even for older travellers. We enjoyed it a lot! Fabulous.
Tracy Hammond - South Africa on 24 October 2011
It is fabulous and a little piece of heaven! It is a great park and very well maintained by the friendly and helpful staff. We cannot wait to go back. Super!
Ylva Fälth - South Africa on 22 October 2011
Nature, clean, good food and wonderful to stay in the huts! We were very satisfied. Relaxing place.
Sharon Oldfield - Mozambique on 18 October 2011
What a relaxing place to stay in! The beehive hut was fantastic, very comfortable and cosy. The food was very enjoyable with excellent service. The staff were all friendly and we will definitely recommend you to others. It is a pity the sunset drive was cancelled due to impending storm, maybe next time. Lovely.
Taryn Skeens - South Africa on 06 September 2011
We really loved our stay and will be back next year with some family members. Great.
Ms Alixess S. - United States on 26 December 2010
The beehive huts were such a unique experience! If you truly want to experience Africa in a fun & exciting new way, stay in the beehive huts! Definitely a highlight on the trip, and the wildlife sanctuary was amazing as well! :) We'd definitely do it again if we find ourselves in Swaziland in the future.
Ms Charlene H. - United States on 02 July 2010
The accommodation is very impressive and they offer a wide variety. We arrived on rainy days so the activities were limited but still had a great time at Mlilwane. This was my second visit and next time I will budget more time to travel more around Swaziland
Ms Amy D. - United States on 13 June 2010
We love Mlilwane. Staff are always pleasant and helpful. Guest house is a great value; we will book it for Bushfire next year too! Only issue was problems with hot water.
Ms Ellen H. - Canada on 30 September 2009
I really enjoyed my stay at the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and would definitely consider returning.