Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Swaziland

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Swaziland's oldest conservation area, which was created to protect the wildlife in the area from diminishing. The beautiful, diverse landscape of the sanctuary, provides a refuge for animals to thrive in and a place for people to relax and appreciate the natural world. There are no big predators in the area, so you are free to wander the trails on foot or horse back and breathe in the fresh air. From grassy plains in the south to the rugged mountains in the north, the sanctuary is a scenic paradise with much to see and do! 

  • Best Time to Go

    May - September

  • Average Safari Cost

    $80 - $1,000 pp/day. Park fee: $3.20

  • Highlights

    Sunrise and sunset game drives, horse-back safaris, walking safaris, Nyonyane Mountains, Usutu Forest, Hippo pool, overnight horse trails, mountain biking and the Rock of Execution and more.

Why Visit Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Ezulwini Valley - the Valley of Heaven. The southern part of the park is where most of the tourist activities occur, since the north is dominated by the Nyonyane Mountain with its striking granite peak called the Rock of Execution. The sanctuary offers many walking trails and horseback safaris so you can explore the land with or without guidance and take in the natural splendour.

Explore the sanctuary for some unique and intimate animal encounters and relax in the exquisite environment. If you're up for a challenge, there are guided trails that lead up the mountainous land in the north, which offer some breathtaking panoramas from high viewpoints. Travel here for some outdoor relaxation and unique game viewing opportunities!

Pros and Cons

  • Mountain biking, walking safaris and horseback safaris available
  • You can travel with or without a guide
  • Excellent birdwatching
  • Good game viewing
  • Different accommodation options
  • Lacks many typical safari animals
  • Some activities may be expensive

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is during the dry season, from May to September. This is also winter so temperatures are cooler and wildlife can easily be found around water sources. Wildlife viewing is good all year round since the park is quite small, but outdoor activities may be more enjoyable during the dry season. The wet season is from October to April, which consists of very hot, humid days with lots of rainfall. Afternoon storms are frequent and can disrupt activities. The rainy season is the best time to see birds as migratory species are present.
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Wildlife and Birds

While the sanctuary lacks some of the typical safari animals and predators, there is still plenty of game to see. There are many hippos, crocodiles and water birds in the wetlands around the Mlilwane Rest Camp as well as plenty of zebra, impala, nyala, kudu and warthog. The animals roam free throughout the park and may even wander into your campsite or right outside your chalet door!
List of Animals
  • Hippo
  • Kudu
  • Warthog
  • Zebra
  • Crocodile

Rare Animals

  • Suni antelope, oribi, African wild cat

Common Animals

  • Zebra, impala, nyala, kudu, hippo, crocodile, warthog

With over 200 recorded species of bird, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is a great birding destination. Various herons, ducks and cormorants can be found around the water sources while many birds of prey circle the skies.

Endangered Birds

  • Southern bald ibis

Getting There and Safety


Most visitors will fly to the King Mswati III International Airport via South African Cape Town or Johannesburg airports from where you can drive or book a domestic or charter flight to an airstrip closer to the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

For the flights to Swaziland, 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 to Swaziland.

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


All foreign visitors need to have a valid passport with several black pages. Some nationalities may visit for a maximum of 30 days without a visa, but may apply for an extension. Other nationalities will need to apply for a visa in advance. Check whether you should apply for a visa on the Swaziland Ministry of Home Affairs website.

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


The recommended vaccinations for Swaziland are diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, polio, hepatitis A and typhoid. Check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are necessary.

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

Pack clothes for both hot and cold weather as temperatures are very hot during the day and cold at night. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.

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

Most of the road can be driven on with two-wheel drive, but there are some 4x4 tracks that you will need a 4x4 vehicle for if you wish to explore them.
Horseback Safaris

Horseback safaris are safe for beginners and the horses are used to the trails so you do not need to have ridden a horse before. The guides can help you and give you tips on how you should ride.

For more information on horseback safaris in Africa see our Horseback Safari - Expert Travel Guide to Africa.

It is recommended to book in advance as activities are very popular and book up fast.