Hlane Royal National Park in Swaziland

Ancient Acacia forests, an abundance of big and small game viewing, vibrant bird life and falling asleep to the music of nocturnal creatures: this is a recipe for the perfect safari. With their expert guides you will be able to explore a range of habitats – from savannah to riverine forest and thickets – and experience the best wildlife and bird life that Hlane Royal National Park in Swaziland has to offer.

  • Best Time to Go

    May – September

  • Average Safari Cost

    $80 - $1,000 pp/day

  • Highlights

    Rhino drive, four of the Big Five (buffalo is absent), 260 bird species, cycling at sunrise, self-drives, guided bush trails (overnight camping)

Why Visit Hlane Royal National Park

The wildlife is great, the residents are welcoming, the activities are fun and informative, and the camping is fully-catered. Let’s not forget the beautifully wild terrain, and the stunning bird life.

With game drives at 3 times during the day – sunrise, midday and sunset – and a specialized Rhino Drive, Hlane Royal offers wonderful wildlife viewing and fantastic guides. If you would prefer to drive yourself instead, you can do that too. Keep in mind though, if you want to see lions, you will have to take a guided game drive.

The Rhino Drive offers visitors the opportunity to track the White rhino with their guide. There are times when you may even be allowed to approach a rhino on foot. Of course, this all depends on whether the rhino is actually approachable. The guide will know best which rhinos you are able to approach and you should always listen to your guide.

Going cycling at sunrise, taking a guided walk through the bush and along game paths or spending a night (or two) sleeping under the stars, are a few of the great experiences that Hlane Royal has to offer.

When you’ve taken in all the scenery and wildlife that you can manage, perhaps you might enjoy visiting the Hlane Umphakatsi (the Chief Village), where you can engage with locals, experience the rural Swazi lifestyle and perhaps even join in on their day-to-day activities.

Pros and Cons

  • Wildlife viewing is fantastic
  • The guides are knowledgeable and pleasant
  • The local culture is rich, and the people are welcoming
  • Birdwatching is great
  • There are several game viewing activities to choose from
  • The only way to reach Swaziland by air is from Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Carjacking can occur on popular routes to and from Swaziland – please remain vigilant.

Best Time to Go

Swaziland is best visited from May to September, when the dry season is in full swing. This is the best time to see animals, and more comfortable as well, without all the rain.

From October to April is the rain season. While birding is always great during this time, it is best to be fully equipped in wet-weather gear.

Temperatures are generally mild all year, never getting uncomfortably hot or humid, or too cold. Although the rainfall can be a little inconvenient.

For more information when to visit see our Swaziland Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife and Birds

The wildlife population is thriving in Hlane Royal, and spotting the animals is almost too easy. The bird life is great as well, with a thorough list of special birds available. Four of the Big Five are present here, with only the buffalo being absent
List of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • White Rhino
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra
  • Baboon
  • Crocodile

The main mammals to be seen in Hlane Royal are the lion, elephant, White rhino, giraffe and hippo. The Rhino Drive is a fantastic way to see more of the white rhino, and to get a chance to approach them on foot.

Rare Animals

  • Civet
  • Wildcat
  • Caracal
  • Cheetah
  • Jackal
  • Serval

Infrequently Seen Animals

  • Bushbaby
  • Bushpig
  • Elephant
  • Honey badger
  • Hyena
  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Samango monkey
  • Vervet monkey
  • Nyala
  • White rhino
  • Warthog
  • Weasel
  • Blue wildebeest
  • Crocodile

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Baboon
  • Bushbuck
  • Grey duiker
  • Giraffe
  • Hippo
  • Impala
  • Klipspringer
  • Mongoose
  • Reedbuck
  • Steenbok
  • Waterbuck
  • Zebra

With over 260 species, bird watching in Hlane is sure to be a wonderful experience. The guides are very knowledgeable, and once you express your need to see more birds than game, they will gladly take you to where you need to be. Be on the lookout for the Secretarybird, the Violet-backed Starling and the African Crowned Eagle.

Endangered Birds

For a complete list of endangered birds in Swaziland see here.

Endemic and Near Endemic Birds

  • Terrestrial Brownbul
  • Golden-breasted Bunting
  • Gorgeous Bush-Shrike
  • Bronze-winged Courser
  • Le Vaillant’s
  • Tambourine Dove
  • African Crowned Eagle
  • Lesser Spotted Eagle
  • Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl
  • African Finfoot
  • Pel’s Fishing-Owl
  • Southern Ground-Hornbill
  • Crested Guineafowl
  • Retz’s Helmet-Shrike
  • White-crested Helmet-Shrike
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • African Pygmy-Kingfisher
  • Senegal Lapwing
  • Narina Trogon
  • Eastern Nicator
  • White-backed Night-Heron
  • Square-tailed Nightjar
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker
  • Greater Painted-Snipe
  • Collared Pratincole
  • Green-winged Pytilia
  • African Scops-Owl
  • Secretarybird
  • Violet-backed Starling
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Purple-banded Sunbird
  • Southern Tchagra
  • Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
  • Lappet-faced Vulture

Getting There and Safety

There is only one way to reach Swaziland by air: from Johannesburg. Travelling from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will land at King Mswati III International Airport in Swaziland, and travel from there by car to Hlane Royal National Park.

Alternatively, you could reach Hlane Royal by car from Johannesburg (Gauteng), Durban (Kwa-Zulu Natal), Nelspruit (Mpumalanga) and Maputo (Mozambique).


For the flights to Swaziland via South Africa, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights.


For more information on visas see our Swaziland Safari - Complete Country Guide.

Vaccinations and Malaria

The concern for malaria is very low for Swaziland, but there is still the possibility for it. A good insect repellent (30% DEET or more) and keeping your arms and legs covered at night should help with the mosquitoes.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurnace

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Swaziland. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What to Pack

Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed sunhat are essential for every safari. Don’t forget to bring extra rechargeable batteries for your camera (and the battery charger).

Swaziland is generally mild all year, but if you are planning to visit to during the rainy season (October – April) it would be best to bring appropriate wet-weather gear. Also, from May to August, the nights and early mornings can be chilly as this is the winter season, so bring along a warm sweater or two.

And, of course, pack the essentials such toiletries, general clothing, hiking boots and trail shoes, etc.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.

Drinking Water
You should use bottled water when travelling in rural areas and ensure that you have at least one bottle with you when travelling in the park. The park does hand out bottled water during some game drives and walking tours, but it is best to have your own as well. Tap water in the popular hotels and restaurants will be safe to drink.

Swaziland is generally a safe country and the locals tend to be friendly. However, pickpocketing can occur in busy markets and at bus stations; caution is advised. Do no tempt fate by wearing expensive jewellery or advertising your money. The basic safety guidelines that you would follow in your own country, should apply here as well.

There is also the possibility of car hijackings to and from Swaziland on the main routes. Please remain vigilant and do not stop for hitchhikers or cars that seem to be broken down on the side of the road – these are common ploys used by hijackers.