Hlane is a the Kingdom's largest protected area and together with its neighbouring parks makes up the vast bushveld expanse known as the Lubombo Conservancy. Here in eastern Swaziland the hot, still rhythm of Africa beats on as it has for thousands of years. However, it is a modern day conservation success story that has seen this area survive competing land-use claims - sugar farming, mining and cattle-ranching. The fact that the roar of the lion, symbol of the Swazi King, now reverberates across the lowveld again - is a fascinating story, which will keep you enthralled. Visit Hlane, see the displays, read the park's history and enjoy the tale of two wise Swazi Kings, who've entrusted this park for the Swazi Nation, their children and their children's children.
A network of self-drive game-viewing roads criss-cross the park's flat terrain, weaving between the 1000 year old hardwood vegetation and shallow pans, which attract great herds of animals during the dry winter months. Hlane, named by King Sobhuza II, extends for 30,000 hectares and is home to lion, elephant, white rhino, leopard, giraffe, hippo, crocodile and a wealth of smaller species. Birdlife is abundant and includes the highest density of nesting white backed vultures in Africa.
Guided walking safaris, mountain biking trails and 4x4 game-viewing are highlights, whilst almost all areas of the park are accessible by ordinary self-drive sedan during the dry season.
Hlane consists of a main restcamp called Ndlovu ("elephant" in siSwati), a series of self-catering cottages at a site called Bhubesi ("lion" in siSwati) and some remote 4x4 campsites.
A hot tip from your local connection: wake up before dawn at Ndlovu Camp, pack a picnic breakfast and drive out to Mahlindza Waterhole (4km). Sip a hot coffee in the bird hide whilst the mist over the waterhole clears, then sit quietly whilst herds of game emerge blinking in the early sunlight. It's so quiet you can hear drinking.
Another hot tip from your local connection: visit the same waterhole at sunset, but use the viewing area to the east of the waterhole. Catch a classic image of a hippo waving its jaws in the air whilst silhouetted against golden ripples of a setting sun.
CAMP SERVICES & FACILITIES
Ndlovu Camp, has an open-air restaurant and a game-viewing deck where one can sit back and enjoy the view of the waterhole - a perfect place for sundowners, tasty meals and relaxation. A public card phone is available at the main gate.
Hlane is staffed by local Swazi people who will help to build fires and assist with cleaning up. About 15 minutes drive from either of the 2 camps, is the Simunye shopping centre. Although not as well stocked as the city supermarkets, the supermarket here can provide a lot of the essentials like fresh bread, milk, vegetables etc. There is also a filling station available here.
The gates at Hlane are only open from 06h00 to 18h00, and late arrivals need to be arranged beforehand. The reception office is situated at the main gate to the reserve.
All activity departures are coordinated from the main gate reception. Activities can be pre-booked in advance. See options under Hlane Royal National Park in our Tours & Activities section.
Hlane has a network of interconnecting roads for game viewing. The roads are easily travelled for self-guided drives throughout the year except after heavy rains. Game is generally concentrated around waterholes, especially in winter, with the rhino security zone encompassing Ndlovu Camp. An early morning trip to Mahlindza waterhole with a flask of coffee or sundowners in the evening, with the hippo snorting as dusk descends, are popular and relaxing activities. The bird watching at both Ndlovu and Bhubesi Camps is superb and a trip to the marabou stork-nesting site is worthwhile.
Guided Game Viewing Tours
These guided tours in semi-open Land Rovers visit both the high security and general visitor areas of Hlane. As part of the game re-introduction programme, the veld near Ndlovu Camp is divided into a number of large cordoned areas. Lion, leopard and cheetah are found within these areas and can only be viewed with the assistance of the Hlane field guides on guided tours.
A hot tip from your local connection: there is an option to hire a Hlane guide to travel around in your own vehicle with you. This is not a bad option on really hot days - especially if you have air-con. However, weigh this up against the hassle of repairing punctures, as the roads in the lion-viewing area are notorious for lusekwane thorns which can cause problems for weeks after.
Guided Walking Safaris
Probably the most exciting activity at Hlane is the guided walking safaris undertaken with a local Swazi field guide. Try your hand at tracking the spoor of rhino, elephant and more. These trails are conducted from Ndlovu Camp and bring walkers into close contact with the smaller "close to the earth" features of this environment. Such trails are regularly punctuated with viewing of big game animals.
Guided Mountain Biking Trails
Pedal amongst relaxed wildlife and giant trees of Hlane. Guided Mountain Bike trails are now available for visitors to Hlane. Up to 10 mountain bikes can be hired on an hourly basis accompanied by a Swazi field guide, or you can bring your own bikes and hire a Swazi field guide at an hourly fee.
See our Tours & Activities section to book these activities.