Swaziland’s small size can be deceiving but it has a lot to offer for wildlife enthusiasts at Hlane Royal National Park.
The is one of the few sanctuaries in Swaziland that boasts of housing the Big Five, with lions in abundance. Hlane has sentimental value in eSwatini land because it protects the Swati King culture. It is symbolized by a lion’s head signifying bravery, courage and protection.
Eswatini land is culturally traditional and lions are greatly adored as they are protected. They have a special place in the eSwatini culture. They are a symbol of the bravery that the land stands for and this is projected in its national coat of arms.In 2019, Swaziland had a population of 1.148 million people making it the smallest country in the world. But do not be deceived by the small size of eSwatini land which is modern-day Swaziland. Even with its small stature as a kingdom in the South, it has riveting experiences in the wild.
Hlane National Park is the kingdom’s most treasured jungle because it is an emblem of the Eswatini King. The King unites the people. It was established in 1967 under the orders of then King Sobhuza II. Initially, it Hlane National Park was called Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
Hlane means ‘wilderness’.
On a tour to Hlane, you will spot lions easily throughout the park as they stroll. Lions live in a secluded area within the park that is fenced. A game drive always ends here due to the fascinating history of lions in Swaziland.
Big Game Parks is tasked with managing Hlane on behalf of the king. This tells you this is a real royal park and its wild escapades serve your expectations with the exact royalty.
It is an affordable destination with exciting wildlife escapades. The tours are always guided by appointed authorities for safety reasons especially because it is a prolific game hunting ground. Besides, Hlane remains Swaziland’s only park with the highest population of elephants and lions.
At the Ndlovu watering hole, elephants, white rhinos, leopards and lions make a grand entry as they quench their thirst. This is where the game drive gets even better as all these animals, known to rule the jungle come together and you can’t help but notice how peacefully they co-exist.
Besides the Big Five, Hlane also boasts of an abundance of hyenas, kudu, impala, waterbucks, giraffes, zebras, white antelopes, and hippos among other small mammals. But it is always the roaring of lions, especially at night that makes you feel that you are truly in eSwatini land.
With a rich network of tracks within the park for a fabulous game drive – self or with a ranger – Hlane features an extensive picnic site for walks while game-viewing along the Mahlindza Dam which abounds with wild animals is a sight to behold. The walks give you a fair chance to watch over 350 species of birds the most fascinating being a large breeding colony of white-backed vultures. Marabou storks are also in plenty across the 22,000 ha park.Away from spectacular wildlife scenes, Hlane gives a treat to nature lovers through mountain biking. There are established biking trails in the park that offer a unique chance to soak in Hlane’s National Park beauty.
Night bush trails are also exciting and they are on offer. They lift the veil of the nocturnal activities of the park. Most carnivores are actively hunting their prey in the cover of darkness.
For accommodation, Ndlovu Camp and Buhubesi Camp welcome you to Swaziland in style. The two camps are 16 km apart but they serve all visitors at Hlane National Park. Ndlovu Camp is at the centre of the big game area while Bhubesi Camp is quiet. It is situated outside the endangered species.
Sounds of bushbabies and nightjars fill the night at Ndlovu Camp.