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“Relaxing stay in beautiful park”

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Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 26 April 2014

As an extension to our Kruger travel we took in Swaziland, where we chose Mlilwane based on previous reviews.
We traveled as a group of 5 (3 adults, 2 kids), and we rented the Shonalanga cottage.The cottage is huge and is attractively laid out. It has a beautiful verandah/patio/garden where you look out onto the park, and there is plenty of outdoor seating available.
The cottage is comfortably furnished with plenty of seating. The thatched roof can be seen from everywhere inside the cottage.
A surprising feature was the absence of glass windows in the biggest bedroom. The 'windows' were just an anti-mosquito cover, so the wind would blow into your bedroom and move the curtains. Luckily the evenings were not very cold.
One minus of the cottage was the astonishing lack of water pressure for the the shower. You could not make yourself wet any higher than your knees, when the pressure would fade into nothing and water would stop coming out of the shower head. Lying flat in the bath was the only way to get wet.

The view of the smaller bedroom (with glass in the window) was beautiful in the morning, where you look out over the plains and the animals.


About the animals, this was the big draw of this park, especially for the children. Around the cottage a vareity of antilopes and grass eaters would show up, and when we had lunch outside a bunch of warthogs came to keep us company. The same happened at the swimming pool, where animals would show up to keep you a bit of company, fantastic!

The swimming pool was huge, and the children loved it. Being out of season, they had the whole place for themselves.

The activities of the park are very well organised. We went horse riding, which gives you a very different perspective on the wildlife. We also went mountain biking, there are some challenging climbs in the park, which made this great fun. And again, lots of animals always surrounding you.

As a generic principle, the service at the reception was very slow and labour intensive. Everything needed to have forms filled in, and all transaction required a hand written bill. The shop (which had an extremely limited assortment of goods) was usually closed ("I am away for 10 minutes" sign was out), and you had to wait for someone to show up.

One other BIG highlight of the park is the restaurant, the Hippo Haunt. This is a seriously nice restaurant with beautiful indoor and outdoor seating. We used the restaurant frequently, and the quality of food and drinks was always good. Staff was also very able and friendly. In addition, for a place with no competition around for miles, prices were kept very attractive.
Breakfast was also a very good service, with a Continental buffet or a Hot ordered breakfast if you wished.Although the breakfast service was done on the outside seating, staff would put the patio heaters on so it was very nice and cosy.

The combination of wildlife, a good restaurant and excellent activities made our Mlilwane stay as good as or stay in Kruger.

Room Tip: Shonalanga cottage was great for a bigger group like us
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank mvanderh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 April 2014

We stayed 2 nights here, and we were delighted with a lovely note congratulating us on our marriage with some chocolates and sparkling! Not all hotels do this, so we were quite chuffed, and we really appreciate hotels who do this, as it's such a fun reminder!

Simple, clean, and charming huts. We really came here because we wanted to be able to go for walks and bike rides around the sanctuary which you can't do in a lot of parks (there's no big 5 here except for leopards, and they are so hard to find). It's very fun riding your bike past zebras!

Service is very nice, my only advice would be to ask lots of questions regarding where to go on self guided walks and getting clear directions because information isn't necessarily forthcoming. However, half the fun is the exploring!

I think a day or two is enough to unwind, and there isn't much else to do other than relax, go on a walk or bike ride.

Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank Fiona C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2014

Our family of three spent five marvellous nights in one of two rondavels located just a short stroll from the restaurant. The setting is superb and almost as soon as you leave the main road through the valley, you feel lost in nature. The rondavel itself has a well-equipped, spacious kitchen, a double and a single bed with mozzie nets (which you will need) and shower and toilet. Self-catering at its best with a daily cleaner to make the beds, wash dishes and replenish the coffee/tea supplies.

There are banks of windows offering views in every direction. We awoke to find our rondavel surrounded by different species every day - zebra, impala and blesbok, many with babies. Later, the vervets arrived peeping over the ridge before scampering down to the fruit tree below the rondavel. A pair of lesser striped swallows were building a mud nest right outside our window. Southern Red Bishop can be spotted in the trees. This is absolute peace and quiet!

In the evening, keep perfectly still, sip a cool gin and tonic (bring your own as the tonic at the restaurant costs more than the gin purchased outside the reserve) while watching zebra, kudu, wildebeest, impala and blesbok slowly advancing on your rondavel.

On Christmas day, our daughter thoroughly enjoyed a three hour horse ride among the game with the expert guide, Nati all to herself. Later we joined dozens of others at the lively Hippo Haunt for a superb Christmas buffet. Top marks to the caterers for the superb Christmas fare at this great restaurant overlooking the river which was teeming with birds. We had ringside seats and were entertained throughout the meal by a large croc stalking wading birds and catching fish. I don't know how they served so many people such great food. Highly recommended and very inexpensive for the quality. All lunch guests were given a keepsake gift as well.

Special mention must be given to the young trainee Phumlan at reception who handled a series of very demanding (and often quite impolite) guests and their various 'issues' with calm and professionalism. I am sure his probationary period will be over by now and that he will be running the place someday.

Loved this place. We will never forget our Christmas among the ungulates and primates.

Room Tip: Some like to try the beehives. For a little extra comfort and some windows, we recommend the rondave...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank bilasukari
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2014

road trip from kruger to cape town took us through swaziland - we intended on sleeping the night and leaving the next morning. as soon as we drove into mlilwane we knew we would stay longer! beautiful setting of campsite in the eucalyptus forest as we were rooftop camping. great restaurant - awesome view over dam and very affordable - huge portions! great buffet breakfast. hired mountain bikes and rode among the animals for two hours - stunning! did a sunset / full moon hike to the top peak. lovely place, clean neat and the most friendly staff! highly recommend. images of our trip seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf9l5394Yvk

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank kirstsmiles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2014

Everything about this experience - from the animals freely roaming around the campsite, staying in the immaculately constructed beehives, taking a mountain bike around the reserve - was just about as perfect as could be. The price is very reasonable given that it probably takes a lot of money to maintain this place. Beware that the beehive huts transmit sound very easily, so please do be mindful of maintaining quiet.

The buffet dinner was superb and offered a wide variety of salad, soup, and meat dishes. We luckily secured a table right by the river close enough that we probably could have been snatched up by crocodiles.

The only thing that is difficult is going in and out of the campsite. The road leading up to the campsite has potholes all the way through and makes for a long bumpy ride. At later hours there is a night gate that can be taken to enter and leave the campsite, which we took to get to House on Fire for New Year's Eve.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Alex P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2014

We decided to take this place over the camping area a few km away and didn't regret it. Something about waking up with the warthogs and zebras and just so amazing. We didn't do any of the special tours you can book and instead wandered around the park for a few days taking in the scenery on foot. The little huts were clean and more than spacious enough and we enjoyed the staff as well as they were always friendly with us. A very enjoyable park and stay was had and I recommend it to all.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Dirty_Bindle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 December 2013

We stayed for two nights and the reserve was really nice, especially because we were able to walk around on our own. Still you should do th sunset safari because it is a fun drive and you get some wonderful views over Swaziland.

We can't really understand the bad ratings for the accommodation, since we got a lot more than expected. The rooms were huge and very clean. Yes, they don't have windows but it's the style of building I guess.

The restaurant was Ok, but they offered the same food each day. The food could also have been better, but still we were able to taste locals meats and beers.

The fact that they charge 1 Rand / Minute for the Wifi is a joke, but in the end you also just wait for the next Wimpy-Burger.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank bremer83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Address: Lobamba Road, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland
Phone Number:
Region: Swaziland > Manzini District > Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Price Range: £54 - £66 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary 2*
Number of rooms: 55
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Swaziland's pioneer conservation area and a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in the Kingdom's Ezulwini Valley, 'Valley of Heavens'. Located between Mbabane and Manzini, 24hr gate access is offered to the Sanctuary enabling guests to enjoy the neighbouring tourist hubs of Ezulwini and Malkerns with their many unique attractions and craft shops. The name 'Mlilwane' ('Little Fire' in siSwati) was derived from the numerous fires started by lightening strikes on the Mlilwane Hill but now holds significance as the little fire that started a big conservation movement in Swaziland resulting in the saving of over 22 species from local extinction across the three reserves. The Sanctuary covers 4,560 hectares and comprises of a southern and northern section. The southern section's grassland plains stretch up to the striking Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak known as the 'Rock of Execution'. All of Mlilwane's accommodation, dining and activity options are concentrated in this southern section of the park, with the exception of guided trails which enter the pristine northern section. ... more   less 
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