Mlawula Nature Reserve in Swaziland

Mlawula Nature Reserve in Swaziland is a beautiful and diverse stretch of land that offers a wide range of activities for an enjoyable safari getaway. The landscape is filled with birds, animals and beautiful flora, which makes this the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts. From the rocky valleys of the Lubombo Mountains to lush green grasslands, the Mlawaula Nature Reserve has a lot to offer and is well worth a visit!

  • Best Time to Go

    May - September

  • Average Safari Cost

    $80 - $1,000 pp/day

  • Highlights

    Python Pools, Hyena Pool, walking and hiking trails, Khabane Cave, Siphiso Vallley and Mbuluzi Gorge.

Why Visit Mlawula Nature Reserve

Mlawula Nature Reserve has many special spots where you can find various animals and beautiful scenery. Explore the Python Pools, which are found in a gorge, for a chance to see pythons, klipspringer and terrapins. See hyenas at the Hyena Pool at the end of the Siphiso Valley. Many different animals can be encountered while hiking on the trails in the valley, including wildebeest, kudu and zebra. Khabane Cave is definitely worth seeing as it offers spectacular views over the reserve.

There are many different walking and hiking trails within the reserve that you can explore without a guide. These allow for more intimate and special wildlife encounters. Hike up the Lubombo Mountains for breathtaking views of endless horizons and pure, untamed land. Travel to the Mlawula Nature Reserve for a tranquil and enriching safari experience.

Pros and Cons

  • Many walking trails
  • Stunning scenery
  • Excellent birdwatching destination
  • Self-guided activities
  • Doesn't get too crowded
  • Limited accommodation options
  • Lacks some of the typical safari animals

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Mlawula Nature Reserve is during the dry season, from May to September. This is the best time for wildlife viewing as the vegetation is sparse and animals can usually be found gathering around water sources. Daytime temperatures are mild, while nights can get very cold so pack warmly!

The wet season is from October to April, which consists of hot and humid days with frequent rainfall. Temperatures can peak above 104˚F(40˚C) from December to February, which can be quite uncomfortable and unpleasant. Afternoon rain showers and thunderstorms occur quite often and can disrupt activities and travel plans. This is the best time for bird watching as migratory species are present in the area.

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

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife and Birds

Many different animal species wander the through the lands of the Mlawula Nature Reserve, including zebra, wildebeest, kudu, jackal and impala. Leopards are present in the area, but you would have to be extremely lucky to see one!
List of Animals
  • Leopard
  • Kudu
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra

Rare Animals

  • Leopard, aardwolf, aardvark, pangolin, serval, oribi

Frequently See Animals

  • Zebra, wildebeest, kudu, jackal, impala, red duiker

With over 300 recorded species of bird, Mlawula Nature Reserve is an excellent birding destination. See shimmering violet-backed starlings fly throughout the reserve as they show off their striking colour. Some of the specials include the African finfoot, Retz's helmet-shrike and the white-backed night heron.

Endangered Birds

  • White-headed Vulture, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Cape Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Steppe eagle

Getting There and Safety


For the flights to Swaziland via South Africa (the only route), 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

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

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

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