Ted and Liz Reilly, were the founders of Mlilwane, Swaziland's first proclaimed conservation area. Reilly having witnessed the disappearance of wildlife in the years he was growing up, turned his 450 ha family farm, Mlilwane, into a Sanctuary, where Swaziland's rapidly vanishing wild animals could find refuge and protection. Reilly planted indigenous trees, created wetland habitat and restocked Mlilwane with wildlife.
The Reilly family then donated Mlilwane to a non-profit making Trust in 1969 to perpetuate it for prosperity. Mlilwane has since grown to 10 times it original size, through the support of the Monarchy, international support and true individual dedication.
The Sanctuary now covers 4,500 hectares and comprises of a southern and northern section. The southern section is predominately open grassland plains with middleveld vegetation, stretching up onto the striking Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak known as the "Rock of Execution".
Nyonyane Mountain is where ancient San or Bushmen people once lived and where Swazi Royal graves are situated. This gives it great historical significance. Behind these mountains, the stunning Mantenga waterfall and beautiful Usushwana Valley form the divide, before stretching up to northern section, which includes one of the highest surrounding points at Luphohlo. Tourist activities are concentrated in the southern section, with only guided trails entering the pristine mountains of the north.
Mlilwane means Little Fire, being derived from the numerous fires started by lightning strikes on the Mlilwane Hill. Many a colourful tale can be told about the Reilly Family, with special relevance to the early pioneer Mickey Reilly, whose family still manages and lives on the Sanctuary.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is located towards the southern end of Swaziland's Ezulwini Valley. It is immediately west of Lobamba Village and Ludzidzini. Access to Mlilwane is via the MR103 road. The capital Mbabane and the busy city of Manzini, are both 30 minutes drive from the reserve.
GPS coordinates for the Mlilwane Gate:: S 26° 28.794' E 31° 11.640'E
GPS coordinates for the Mlilwane Camp: S 26° 29.462' E 31° 11.092'
Hotel Address: Ezulwini Valley, Ezulwini Valley
FROM JOHANNESBURG, GAUTENG Head towards Witbank on the N12 or N4. Pass Witbank and Middleburg, and take the R33 turn-off towards Carolina. On exiting Carolina stay with the R33 which turns right straight after the railway line. 41km further on turn left at the T-junction towards Warburton on the N17. This road leads directly to the Oshoek border post. Continue on the MR3 highway down the steep Malagwane Hill and at the bottom of the hill, take the first off-ramp to your left towards the Ezulwini Valley Hotels (MR103). Cross the highway and travel past landmarks such as the Sun International hotels and The Gables Shopping Centre (Pick & Pay) complex (The Gables). About 3km after The Gables, you will reach the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary turning to your right. Travel for approximately 3 kms on this dirt road to reach the main entrance gate to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. From here there is internal signage to the Rest Camp.
FROM DURBAN, KWA-ZULU NATAL Take the N2 North towards Pongola. 20 Kilometres before Pongola, turn right towards the Golela border post. Follow the road into Swaziland towards Big Bend (MR8). Travel through Big Bend and then for another approximate 75 kms before you will reach a T-junction. Turn left onto the MR3 towards Manzini. Continue straight through Manzini, travel for approximately 7 kms then leave the highway at Matsapha to follow the old road to Mbabane towards the Ezulwini Valley (MR103). Travel through the Ezulwini Valley, past the large Mahlanya Fruit Market. After you've passed the fruit market, travel for approximately 2 more kms before you will reach the turn-off to your left to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Travel for approximately 3 kms on dirt road before you will reach the main entrance gate to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will receive directions to the accommodation facility of your choice.
FROM NELSPRUIT, MPUMALANGA From Nelspruit, follow the N4 in an easterly direction. Take the R570 turn-off right after Malelane. This road leads directly to Jeppes Reef border post. Follow MR1 road through Pigg's Peak. Approximately 50km past Pigg's Peak you will reach a T-junction where you turn left onto the MR3 towards Mbabane. Continue on the MR3 road down the Malagwane Hill and at the bottom of the hill, take the first off-ramp to your left towards the Ezulwini Valley Hotels (MR103). Travel past the Sun International Trio hotels, past the Pick & Pay complex (The Gables), travel for approximately three more kms before you will reach the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary sign to your right. Travel for approximately 3 kms on dirt road before you will reach the main entrance gate to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will receive directions to the accommodation facility of your choice.