I keep getting sucked back into that magical mindspace that is Swaziland. MY previous post covered Mlilwane, the BIG GAME PARKS Wildlife Sanctuary set within the Ezulwini Valley, but there is a lot more to both BGP and ‘The Kingdom’.
Mkhaya is a true bush getaway, albeit with an up-market twist, and arguably rates as my personal favourite between the three parks. You sleep in open-walled stone chalets, eat your meal next to an open fire in a boma fronted onto a dry river bed where hyena and jackal prowl, and a ranger must walk you to bed just in case you bump into an elelphant.
The service is personal – and impeccable – and our guide Bongani easily rates as one of the most knowledgeable bush-people I have ever met. Walking with rhinos is one of Mkhaya’s premier attractions, and we once again faced off to a mother and calf over less than two dozen metres.
Hlane, on the other hand, is like a mini-Kruger, with four of the Big 5, and a water hole that will blow your hair back. At any given hour of the day, chances are that you will have a clutch of rhinos lounging less than 10m from the 3-strand barbed wire fence, with a battalion of hippos argy-bargying in the water, and elephants spraying huge trunks-full of water skywards.
It is a little bit like National Geographic Channel in real life, what with the giant crocs and lilac-breasted rollers and gargantuan African pythons. And take a stick, becuase there will be a lot of square-lipped rhinos to shake it at.
Right at the top of the list of things to do is the Hlane Sun-up Cycle; gather at 5:30AM, saddle up and crank off into the bush with your guide. Morning coffee and muffins at the bird hide provides the necessary sustenance before you head off with Ndumiso again, in search of another Swazi adrenalin hit.
There are lots more images to come, but feast your eyes on these for now. Or go and check out www.biggameparks.org for an unabridged sneak peek at these amazing parks.
Click here to view the pics