Hlane Royal National Park trip report





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  1. #1
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    Default Hlane Royal National Park trip report

    So SWAMBO and I decided to visit Hlane Royal National Park on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of May. We saw a special on the Big Game Parks website and booked self catering accommodation for both Friday and Saturday night.
    This was our first visit to a national park in Swaziland, and we decided on Hlane. It is quite close to us, and we have driven through the park previously, but never stopped to have a look. It also hosts 4 of the big 5.
    We left Matola just after 14h, and crossed the border almost without an incidence (lost a few apples and oranges due to the restrictions in Swaziland for any fruit or meat from Mozambique). We arrived at Hlane at +- 16h, and booked in at the gate, proceeding to Ndlovu camp.
    Ndlovu camp is the main camp of the park, and is situated very close to the tar road running through the reserve.
    The park setup is different to most South African national parks. The park has a big game area in the centre of the park, with elephants and rhino. This area is fenced off and is accessible for self drive. The lions, cheetahs etc. are in the cats camp, a separate camp outside the big game camp, which is only accessible through a guided drive by Hlane, at an additional cost. The rest of the reserve, outside the fenced areas, is also accessible for self drive, but there is no big game in this area. The main camp, Ndlovu, is situated within the big game camp, and the second camp, Bhubesi, outside.
    Ndlovu camp is situated next to a waterhole, with the restaurant and dining area overlooking the waterhole. This results in quite a peaceful setting. After we booked in, we spent a few minutes at the waterhole and also ordered our dinner from the restaurant, which we had to pre-book. There are a few impala inside the camp, and throughout our stay at Ndlovu, there were impala at and around the waterhole.
    We went for a self drive the afternoon, and spotted some game, a rhino and some elephant. The routes in the park are all accessible with 2x4, although in my opinion you will need some ground clearance, thus a ‘bakkie’ or something similar will be ideal.
    On arrival back at the camp, we spend the last few minutes of the light at the waterhole after which we headed to our bungalow to get ready for dinner. The lanterns created a nice atmosphere in the unit and the restaurant. The dinner at the restaurant was good, and considering the price not a bad option at all. We had a 3 course meal and a drink each, costing us only E250. Note the other activities at the camp are quite expensive though. We also attended and enjoyed the traditional Swazi dance at the camp fire after dinner.
    Our unit was very big, with beds for up to 8 people. The bungalows are a few years old, but our unit was nicely furnished and it had everything we expected from self catering accommodation. Overall it looked well maintained and clean, providing us with a very satisfying stay.
    Early the next morning we went for another self drive, where we had a few good sightings. After a delicious breakfast prepared by Swambo, we set off to Bhubesi camp, where we would be sleeping the final night. We had a very good rhino sighting on the way out of the big game camp. On the outside of the big game camp, we had frequent sightings of impala and nyala. We also stopped at Matsweri dam, which had a nice bird hide.
    Bhubesi camp is beautifully situated on the banks of a river and although there is electricity, there is no restaurant or shop. The entire camp consists of a few self catering units next to one another on the river bank.
    We were the only people at the camp the night, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and quietness of the camp. The camp also has a walking trail along the river bank, which we enjoyed.
    The self catering units are well equipped and our unit was clean and well maintained. It can accommodate up to 4 people, and has a nice braai area outside as well as a fireplace on the inside. We had a lovely braai and sat at the fire till late that evening.
    On our way back to the exit of the park the next morning, we stopped at Ndlovu camp for a bathroom break before hitting the road back home. We were pleasantly surprised to see a large number of rhino and elephants at the waterhole. It was a very nice sight and we stayed at the waterhole for quite a while, observing these beautiful animals.
    A few overall comments:
    · We had a lovely stay at Hlane, the service was good, the staff members were friendly and the park has got a very peaceful atmosphere.
    · I would not consider this as an alternative to the Kruger Park, as the setup is very different, and the game viewing is not the same. One has to pay extra to see the Lions.
    · One thing that we did not like was the almost constant background noise coming from the tar road while staying at Ndlovu. Even at Bhubesi camp there were instances where one could hear other vehicles in the distance.
    · Overall we were satisfied with our visit to Hlane. The accommodation is good and affordable, and we definitely got the “in the bush” feeling. We liked the fact that the camps are small, quiet and even when fully booked, we think it will not feel crowded. However being the same distance from our home as the Kruger, we prefer Kruger solely due to the better wildlife.
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  3. #2
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    When we stayed at Hlane,
    there were busses coming with school kids
    from all over the country.
    The king wants to have all kids to be there.
    It was an amazing experience.

    Otherwise I can state the same like you,
    overall satisfaction!

  4. #3
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    It is a magic place. If you have not been you have to go!
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  5. #4
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    Jip can only agree - definately worth visiting!!
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  6. #5
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    Awesome!!!!! We are going there on our way to Moz next weekend!

    Thanks for the report!!!

  7. #6
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    We returned yesterday, really an awesome experience! Enjoy!

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