Elephant in the Lubombo Conservancy eSwatini Courtesy of eSwatini Tourist Board © Courtesy of eSwatini Tourist Board

With big game, wild bush hiking and a remote mountain community, these four reserves makes up Swaziland’s largest protected area.

The far northeast of eSwatini is the country’s big-game hotspot. This is where the largest herds and the most large mammals are to be found and, with the exception of Mkhaya, the only place where safari-goers have a realistic prospect of meeting any of the Big Five. The low, flat bushveld terrain, rising to the rugged Lubombos, is just like that of the southeast Kruger Park a little to the north. Indeed, before roads, borders, sugar estates and other impediments, this region was just as wild and teeming with big game as the Kruger is now.

You have a choice of reserves in which to experience this wild Swaziland of yesteryear. Hlane Royal National Park is managed by Big Game Parks and home to abundant wildlife, much of it reintroduced; Mlawula Nature Reserve is an SNTC property, with pristine bush that reaches to the top of the Lubombos, but is more challenging in terms of both game-viewing and accommodation; Mbuluzi Game Reserve is effectively a small slice of Mlawula but, under private management, has easier game-viewing and better facilities; Shewula Mountain Camp is a community project high in the Lubombos, where visitors can combine wild nature with local culture.

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