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Hlane Royal National Park/Swaziland

Introducing Hlane Royal National Park

This park is near the former royal hunting grounds. Hlane (the name means ‘wilderness’) is Swaziland’s largest protected area, and home to elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, white rhinos and many antelope species, and offers wonderfully low-key wildlife-watching.

There are guided walking trails and birding trips (per person E155), which afford the opportunity to see elephants and rhinos, as well as two-hour wildlife drives (per person E235, minimum 2) at sunrise, sunset and during the day, a cultural village tour (per person E70, minimum 4) and mountain-bike rentals (per 2hr E175).

Hlane has two good camps. Both can be booked through Big Game Parks over at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ndlovu Camp is pleasant and rustic, with a gas-cooking area and a smart new restaurant. Accommodation is in rondavels (round huts with a conical roof) and self-catering cottages with no electricity. It’s just inside the main gate, and near a waterhole (fenced off, although hippos and rhinos often mill around).

Bhubesi Camp is the pick of the spots: it overlooks a river about 14km from Ndlovu Camp. Accommodation is in tasteful, stone, four-person, self-catering cottages (with electricity). They overlook a river and green lawns and are surrounded by lush growth.

Minibus taxis to Simunye will drop you at the entrance to Hlane (E5); the gate is about 7km south of Simunye. Once at the park, you can explore most of it with a 2WD, with the notable exception of the special lion compound, which can be visited on the wildlife drives only.