As Swaziland springs into life; local, regional and international visitors flock to its game studded plains to experience some of Southern Africa’s best birding and botany bloom.
BGP Birding & Botany Attractions
Hlane Royal National Park
Home to the largest herds of game in Swaziland with four of the Big 5 including Lion, Hlane also boasts a wide range of flora and fauna which attracts avitourists and botanists alike.
For budding botanists, the park has been rated as having one of the best examples of Knobthorn Acacia nigresens in Southern Africa which still blooms into spring while the bright yellow variety of Gloriosa Spinosadoes and Fireball Lily Scadoxis multiflorus light up the skies later in the season.
Hlane also has the highest density of tree-nesting vultures in Southern Africa, according to Ara Monadjem, who also recorded that White-backed Vulture nesting sites are very specific to protected areas such as Hlane, literally ending along the fence line. Avitourists often spot vultures nesting throughout spring on top of Hlane’s Acacia trees or whilst bathing in the Mbuluzi River.
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Game viewing tracks between indigenous trees allow intimate encounters with Elephant, White and Black Rhino, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna in this superb refuge for endangered animals – widely renowned as an exciting conservation success. Local guides share their knowledge on open Land Rover drives and walking safaris, providing superb photographic opportunities which attract bush, birding and botany enthusiasts.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Mlilwane is the Kingdom’s most popular eco-tourism destination with 24-hour gate access and a wide range of accommodation and dining options to suit every pocket and palate. Visitors are able to enjoy nature on horseback, mountain bikes, hiking trails and open 4×4 drives. Fantastic birding walks are offered where Black, Crowned and Fish eagles as well asSwaziland’s National Bird; the Purple-crested Turaco are often spotted. Aquatic species such as the Finfoot, White-fronted Bee-eater and around six species of Kingfisher can also be seen.
Recommended Accommodation for Birding & Botany Enthusiasts
Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge
This stunning lodge located within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is steeped in history and attracts photographers-in-the-know from across the world keen to capture the birding and botany gem for themselves. Up-close encounters with rare and endangered small antelope such as Blue Duiker and Suni, a vast array of exquisite birdlife and regular nocturnal visits from Bush Babies keen to be fed a banana or two on the rooftop, provide the perfect subjects against a canvas of mature Royal Botanical Gardens featuring rare aloes and cycads and spectacular elevated views of the game-studded plains. The lodge’s beautiful rooms, famous Swazi hospitality and roaring log fires also add to the appeal.
Best for Bush Fanatics: Stone Camp
Swazi hospitality is a feature of Mkhaya Game Reserve’s Stone Camp, where traditional meals and dancing are enjoyed beneath a giant sausage tree before visitors retire along lantern-lit paths to their own semi-open stone and thatch cottages. Simple African Luxury at its very best.
Recommended Dining for Birding & Botany Enthusiasts
Hippo Haunt Restaurant at Mlilwane
The Hippo Haunt Restaurant at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary overlooks a beautiful hippo pool surrounded by stunning vegetation and an abundance of aquatic birds and wildlife. Visitors can savour delicious meals including game while gazing at the resident hippos and crocs on the terrace or on cooler days cozy up on a comfortable couch next to a fireplace indoors.