Mkhaya Game Reserve is situated in the central Swaziland lowveld. It offers accommodation in a marvellous bush camp lodge, that is tucked away in a rich riverine forest alive with birds and wildlife. However Mkhaya is best known, or should we say, famous for, its unparalled wildlife viewing. Species like black rhino, white rhino, elephant, buffalo, hippo, tsessebe and sable antelope can be seen here more reliably than anywhere else in Southern Africa. That's not a marketing pitch from the establishment, that's the honest opinion of your local connection and its founded on many many breath-taking encounters with Mkhaya's big game species.
What more can we tell you... ?
Stone Camp is where guests are accommodated. This lodge has to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated. Situated almost in the centre of the reserve on a dry riverbed that tells a daily story of wildlife passage, the camp is shaded by ancient fig, leadwood, knobthorn and giant sausage trees. A heavily vegetated under-canopy gives the camp a year-round subtropical appearance. The camp has central thatch-covered areas which serves as the lodge reception, bar, lounge, curio shop and undercover dining... although in all truth, nothing is doneundercover at Mkhaya unless it is pelting with rain. The Mkhaya experience is all about being outdoors either under the trees, or under the stars and constantly incontact with friendly birds, small animal species and the non-stop melody of birdsong by day and night. Wow...I didn't think we were capable of such flowery language on this website...but hey...we really like this place!
Most of the Mkhaya camp accommodation is situated upstream and downstream of the central lodge area. There are 11 stone and thatch cottages, with a variety of layouts. These can be surveyed under the Rooms/Rates & Booking tab. All are hidden in the bushguaranteeing privacy and an altogether exclusive one-on-one experience with the surrounding forest.
But to really get to grips with the value of a visit to Mkhaya, you need to appreciate a little bit about its background...
Mkhaya Game Reserve has a veryrich and interesting history. The reserve incorporates what used to be the Red Tiger Cattle Ranch, itself a sub-division of the famous Bar-R Ranch established during the First World War. The vast expanse of Red Tiger grass gave Red Tiger Ranch its name. Today that same rich grass veld which supports a great diversity of game.
It was the near extinction of local indigenous Nguni cattle that initially gave rise to the Mkhaya project in 1979. The protection of any resources at this time was a difficult and controversial battle, as it impacted on the local Swazi's previous free reign over natural resources. Nature conservation was an entirely new concept to the Swazi Nation. But, as the Mkhaya conservation success story unfolded, the concept slowly took root. The fact that Mkhaya focused not just on wildlife but on pure Nguni cattle was a feature that struck a chord with not only the Swazi Nation, but even the neighbouring Zulu monarchy as well.
Miracles still do happen and it is the Nguni breed of cattle, which was at the threshold of extinction only a few decades ago that is largely responsible for financing the conservation efforts surrounding rhino, elephant and many otherendangered species at Mkhaya. But we'll leave this particular tale right here...visit Mkhaya to hear the full story for yourself.
With regards to Mkhaya's prolific game population, these animals are largely descendants of wildlife introductions to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary back in the 1960's, which in turn re-populated Mkhaya Game Reserve which had had most of its wildlife poached and hunted out of existence in the early free-for-all colonial era.
Mkhaya and in fact Swaziland's entire warthog population eminated from the introduction of 8 animals in 1963; white rhino bounced back came back from less than 20 animals and the black wildebeest, now mostly situated at Malolotja Nature Reserve, from just 40 animals. Most species at Mkhaya have been re-established after their total extinction in Swaziland.
Mkhaya Game Reserve has been central to wildlife conservation efforts in Swaziland and has been officially recognised as Swaziland's refuge forendangered lowveld species. It has been the aim to produce surplus animals and to re-establish breeding nuclei in other suitably protected wildlife areas within the Kingdom and even across borders with neighbouring states.
Mkhaya is staffed and patrolled entirely by local Swazi game rangers from neighbouring communities and has for many years boasted what is arguably Africa's most effective anti-poaching unit. The stories of their heroics and exploits are very much a part of every visit to Mkhaya and there and manyinteresting exhibits of poachers weapons, snares and effects that can be explored by the interested visitor.
Mkhaya is a proclaimed Nature Reserve, privately owned, largely privately financed by the pioneering Reilly family. Mkhaya has also been assisted with generous grants and support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the SANature Foundation, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Dr Anton Rupert, HRH PrinceBernhard of the Netherlands, the Prettejohn family of Ngwenya Glass, the European Union, Rhino Rescue Trust of Great Britain, the Netherlands Rhino Foundation and many others. Their efforts have greatly appreciated and have clearly borne fruit in that today Mkhaya is totally self-financing through visitorrevenues, Nguni cattle and its is producing meaningful surpluses of endangered species.
The "caring for the customer" rating is an aggregate score for the five parameters we survey (welcome, the service, charm, cleanliness/maintenance and overall experience/value for money. There must be a minimum of 3 traveller ratings we can average before we display a rating for the property. We also age traveller ratings and discard any that are over twelve months old.