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.
- 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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