Mlilwane National Park

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
An Outdoor Lover’s Paradise.
Mlilwane, Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, is a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in Swaziland’s “Valley of Heaven”, the Ezulwini Valley, in between Mbabane and Manzini. With 24-hour access to the Sanctuary, guests are free to enjoy the neighbouring tourist hubs of Ezulwini and Malkerns, with their many unique attractions and craft shops. From the western boundary, the huge Usutu Forest provides a dramatic backdrop stretching into the distant hills. 

The Sanctuary covers 4,560 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 is where ancient San once lived and where Swazi Royal graves are situated giving 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 is Swaziland's oldest protected area, owned and managed by a non-profit making trust. Mlilwane serves as a headquarters for the Big Game Parks including Mlilwane’s sister reserves Hlane and Mkhaya. Formerly a productive mixed farming operation, with extensive tin mining in the low foothills of the Nyonyane Mountains, the Sanctuary has been rehabilitated and is now Swaziland's most frequently visited reserve where one can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the abundant wildlife that grace the plains.


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Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Visitors can explore the southern portion of the Sanctuary by foot, vehicle, on horseback and on mountain bikes. Those who simply want to relax can sit back in the camps and enjoy the tranquility of
Mlilwane. Mlilwane has an outside function area Inkhundla, about 200 meters from the Hippo Haunt restaurant which is suitable for private functions, such as weddings, graduation parties and so on and is often used by members of the Royal Family. It consists of a reed and semi-tin roof, riversand floor, railway sleeper benches, a bar area and has an ablution nearby. Catering can be arranged and the rates of this can be obtained from Big Game Parks central reservations office.

Activities at Mlilwane 
Apart from abundant bird life and nesting water birds, there are a number of animal species to be seen including hippo, giraffe, crocodile, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, impala, warthog, waterbuck, reedbuck, steenbok, grey duiker, red duiker, klipspringer, blesbok, oribi and suni. Seldom seen, but present in the reserve are the ever-elusive leopard and a variety of smaller mammals like bushbaby, mongoose, aardwolf, genet, porcupine and civet. A variety of bird life can be enjoyed which include the black, crowned and fish eagle as well as the purple-crested lourie and at least 3 species of robin being common sightings in the Rest Camp.

Seen along the Machobane trails are common coral trees, common tree ferns, waterberry trees and a number of other indigenous trees and vegetation.

Mlilwane is Swaziland’s oldest conservation area, which not only gave birth to the concept of nature conservation in the Kingdom but is also the root of virtually all that is nature conservation in Swaziland today. Ted Reilly, having witnessed the disappearance of wildlife in the years he was growing up, turned his 450 ha family farm, Mlilwane, into the Sanctuary as we know it today, 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.