Mlawula Nature Reserve Eswatini

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Mlawula Nature Reserve Eswatini

This wild reserve lies to the east of the MR3, north of Simunye, and is managed by the Swaziland National Trust Commission. Its Savannah and woodland mosaic is flanked to the east by the Lubombo Mountains and to the north by the Mbuluzi River. Mlawula is a rougher and more challenging destination than Hlane, with fewer facilities and activities, but offers rich rewards for those prepared to explore.

Mlawula doesn’t boast many large mammals, though you’ll surely see a few antelope and perhaps a spotted hyena. The draw here, though, is the excellent bird watching – close to 100 species are recorded – and above all, the network of hiking trails.

Size of Mlawula nature reserve

Mlawula Nature Reserve is in north-eastern Swaziland, covering an area of approximately 16,500 hectares.

Location of Mlawula nature reserve

The Mlawula Nature Reserve is a nature reserve situated in north-eastern Eswatini. It covers approximately 16,500 hectares and is adjacent to Mbuluzi Game Reserve, Simunye Nature Reserve, and Hlane Royal National Park.

How to get to Mlawula nature reserve

Mlawula is quite accessible and any vehicle is usually fine for getting around the reserve. It is located about 100km/60mi from Manzini, and the drive takes about one hour and 40 minutes.

Things to do in Mlawula nature reserve

This habitat variety means that Mlawula boasts even greater biodiversity than Hlane, but poaching over the years has taken its toll and the larger game is harder to see. Impala is the most abundant large mammal, with zebra, wildebeest, nyala, and kudu often seen. Predators include a few spotted hyenas, often heard at night, while baboons and klipspringers scale the cliffs of the Lubombo. Mlawula’s 350 recorded species of bird represent 70% of Swaziland’s total and include such local specialties as white-backed night-heron and African broadbill. The reserve is also a botanical hotspot, with endemic cycads and aloes among its 1,035 recorded species.

When to visit Mlawula nature reserve

Mlawula can be visited throughout the year, but the dry months from June to September are best for wildlife viewing. At this time, the bush is not as thick and animals head for rivers and other water sources. As Mlawula isn’t primarily a wildlife viewing destination, you might prefer the wet summer months when the scenery is lush and green, and birding is at its best (this is the time migratory birds are present). The summer months from October to May can be very hot though, with regular afternoon rains. April and September are beautiful transitional months.

Where to stay in Mlawula nature reserve

Visitors can stay at Siphiso campsite or Magadzavane Lodge, the latter reached via Siteki. Most game-viewing roads are, with care, manageable in a normal vehicle. A map marks all roads, trails, and picnic spots and, with no dangerous game, you can get out wherever you like. The walking trails offer a rare opportunity to wander unguided in the pristine African bush. Trails vary in length from 1.5km to a full day’s hike.

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