Mkhaya Game Reserve Eswatini

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Piggs Peak Eswatini

Mkhaya Game Reserve, a private reserve, located between Manzini and Big Bend, is Eswatini’s (Swaziland’s) most exclusive safari retreat. Here you leave your vehicle behind to join an expert private guide for game drives and bush walks. You then dine beneath the stars, before drifting off to sleep in your chalet to the noises of the night.

Big Game Parks acquired Mkhaya in 1979 in order to protect the country’s last indigenous Nguni cattle. As the reserve expanded so did its ambitions. Today it is a sanctuary for endangered species and home to other large mammals that once roamed Eswatini freely. White rhinos are common and black rhinos, though more elusive, are still often seen.

Bush walks are not just about the big game, but offer a full immersion in the sights, sounds, and textures of the bush. Expect to learn about everything from the air-conditioning of a termite mound to the contents of a hyena’s droppings. Afterward, watching wildlife from a vehicle may seem like watching it on TV.

Size of Mkhaya game reserve

The ambiance is pure bush, the wildlife in-your-face, and your creature comforts fully taken care of. The reserve comprises around 10,000ha of the undulating bush to the north of the Umzimphofu River.

Location of Mkhaya game reserve

Mkhaya game reserve situated in Lowveld wilderness in the southeast of Eswatini and is made up of acacia-dominated thornveld in the south and broadleaf Sandveld in the north. The reserve has many dry riverbeds, is dotted with waterholes, and has a network of game-viewing roads.

How to get to Mkhaya game reserve

Fly from Johannesburg to King Mswati III International Airport (SHO) in Manzini, hire a car and drive to Mkhaya. The drive is about 60km/37mi and takes about one hour.

Things to do in Mkhaya game reserve

Wildlife encounters

You should also find giraffe, zebra, hippo, and warthog, plus Eswatini’s only herd of buffalo. Roan, sable, and tsessebe are among the rarer antelope, with wildebeest, kudu, impala, and nyala all abundant. Leopards are only occasional visitors, but you may hear spotted hyenas at night, and crocodiles are often seen lounging around the main waterhole.

Birding tours

Excellent birdlife includes such specials as Narina trogon, pink-throated twinspot, and crested guineafowl, while nyala and even a few shy suni browse around the camp. After dinner listens for the fragile whistle of fiery-necked nightjars, the unearthly shriek of greater bushbabies, and the whoop of spotted hyenas.

Rhino tracking

Tracking rhinos on foot at Mkhaya is as thrilling as anywhere in Africa. White rhinos are generally approachable and the guides may take you extremely close. Black rhinos are more nervous and aggressive, so tracking them can be an adrenaline-charged affair

When to visit Mkhaya game reserve

Wildlife viewing is not much affected by the seasons in Mkhaya, as animals are mostly kept in drive-in enclosures. That said, the best time to visit is in the dry winter months, from May to September, when the climate is mild and rain minimal. The shoulder months, April and May and September and October, are particularly agreeable as it is less cold at night and in the early morning than in mid-winter.

Where to stay in Mkhaya game reserve

Mkhaya Game Reserve Swaziland accommodation is in luxury semi-open cottages, food is traditional bush cooking.

The unique, safari-style Stone Camp, Mkhaya in Swaziland offers safari-lovers the complete African experience.

After an adventurous day in the Swaziland bushveld in search of wildlife, Mkhaya lodge guests return to the reserves bird-rich riverine forest camp to enjoy a refreshing beverage under the giant sausage tree before retiring to their beautiful semi-open stone and thatch cottages to relax with the sound of the bush.

Size & Location
How to get there
Areas of interest
When to visit
Where to stay