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.
George Mbatha is the senior ranger at Hlane Royal National Park and has been serving the Big Game Parks for many years. Although his daily responsibilities are largely out in the park, he is also a familiar figure around the camp. He is very dedicated to conservation and client satisfaction. Together with his team of office and ground staff, as well as rangers, he ensures that all clients visiting this reserve leave with fond memories.
George also leads the Hlane Sibhaca (traditional dancing) team, and although he now leaves the high leg-kicking dance moves to the younger generation, he beats a mean rhythm on the huge cattle-skin drums that the teams typically use.
Locally, George is famous for his successful record and courage in confronting the occasional armed poacher, who takes aim at the parks abundant wildlife. One would scarcely believe that his round smiley face has so often faced flying bullets and death. He is certainly from a very rare breed of fearless and humble men and if you catch him around the fire late at night you'll be astounded at the efforts it has taken to get Hlane Royal national Park to where it is today.
This accommodation provider has taken action to address one or more issues (whether environmental, social or cultural) which will contribute positively to the long term viability of the destination and hence their site displays a Caring for the destination rating.
Main area of focus in Caring for the Destination:
Protecting National Parks and Wildlife.
Detailed description of the Caring for the Destination Initiative:
The Big Game Parks are committed to promoting environmental literacy, developing, conserving and expanding land base to increase ecological viability and protecting bio-diversity in order to conserve for posterity, which is our natural heritage. For the time being , you may enjoy all that work we are doing in stunning surroundings with rich diversity of wildlife. Our aim is to uphold and sustain the highest levels of conservation integrity and represent habitat for its wildlife while making your holiday memorable.