Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland

Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland

Day 13: South Africa Border – Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland

Today begins the route to Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland that begins at the Shayamoya Tiger Fishing and Game Lodge, our accommodation tonight, which we arrived by surprise after the excursion with hippos in Saint Lucia that we did yesterday.

Shayamoya Tiger Fishing and Game Lodge

With the views we have from the terrace of the cabin, we cannot avoid getting up early to enjoy an incredible sunrise, with exceptional views, for when it is 7 in the morning, go directly to the breakfast room, where we charge energy, to visit Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland, which will also take us to know a new country for one day.
Punctually at 8 in the morning, we leave the accommodation heading to the Goleta border crossing, which is only 9 kilometers from our accommodation, where we have to do the paperwork to be able to go to Swaziland and go to Hlane Park, our destination in this country.

South Africa border with Swaziland

Although the procedures to cross the border from South Africa with Swaziland are usually very easy and fast, we want to leave you a series of tips based on our experience.
  • The first thing to keep in mind is that there are several border crossings, each with different schedules. In case of making a route like our trip to South Africa in 25 days or similar, the best option is the Golela pass, which opens at 7 in the morning.
  • In addition to the passport, it is very important to carry a special permit to cross the border with a rental car. This will be given to you directly at the Rental Office the day you pick up the car and it is essential to be able to cross the border.

Keep in mind that you must request this the day you make the rental reservation and it has an extra cost. In our case with Europcar, it has cost us 80 euros, although we know that there are different prices depending on the rental agency.

Rented car in South Africa
  • Although they did not ask us for an international driving license at any time, we know of several cases in which it has been essential to show it to be allowed to cross the South African border with Swaziland, so it is important to take it into account and carry it since It is also essential to rent the car and show the police in case they stop you.
  • If you are Spanish and you will not be in Swaziland for more than 30 days, you will not need a visa, although you do have to carry out some procedures to enter the country.
  • At the border, the first thing you should do is stop at the first parking lot, where you must show your passport and then follow the path bordering the buildings until you reach the next building, where you have to enter the ticket office.

Once there you will show your passport again and after checking it they will give you a paper with which you must go to a ticket office right next to it, where you will pay R50 (you can pay in rands). Once this procedure is done and with your passport stamped, you can follow the road until you reach the step where after showing the stamped paper as you have paid, you can enter Swaziland.

This payment can be made in cash or by card.
South Africa border with Swaziland
  • Something to keep in mind is that if you carry a South African SIM card, once you are in Swaziland it will not work, so you will be without an internet connection or receiving calls during your stay in the country.
  • As you do not have a connection, it is highly recommended to carry a GPS or an offline GPS application installed on your phone, since in Swaziland the directions are not very common.

Tips for visiting Swaziland

Although traveling in Swaziland is practically like doing it in South Africa, we want to leave you some details that we believe can help you during your stay.
  • Keep in mind that the currency is the lilangeni and since its value is fixed to the South African rand, the latter is also accepted in Swaziland.
  • As we discussed earlier, South African SIM cards are not valid in Swaziland.
  • If your intention is to do a route that includes only Hlane Park, we recommend spending a night inside, preferably at Hlane Ndlovu Camp, the park’s main camp.
  • On the way from the border to Hlane, we see several policemen with radars, so it is very convenient to be careful with the speed and follow the traffic rules.
  • You should also bear in mind that from the MR16, which is the road that takes you to Hlane, just when you take the detour to the right, approximately 75 kilometers from the border, the road turns into a minefield, in which the holes or potholes, are present along the road for approximately 40 kilometers.
In this area and especially if you go with tourism, it is essential to take it easy to avoid potholes as much as possible.
Potholes in Swaziland
It is 8:45 in the morning when, after no more than 30 minutes of paperwork to cross the South African border with Swaziland, we begin our journey to Hlane Royal National Park, the place that we will visit in this new country, land of rhinos, where we will do our first safari and where we will stay at Hlane Ndlovu Camp, in a rondavel hut, a camp in which from what we have read, the visit of wild animals throughout the day is fully guaranteed.
Before starting to circulate on the road that takes us to the park and without knowing very well if there will be gas stations on the way, we prefer to go to one near the border where we fill a deposit room that we have empty for R150, with which we stay calm to continue the journey.
Swaziland Highway
After traveling the 100 kilometers that separate us from Hlane, the last 40 being a hotbed of potholes that took us almost 1 hour to travel, we began to see how the landscape began to become much greener and much more leafy, drastically changing the one we saw During the last days in South Africa for at 10 in the morning and already in the land of Hlane, we found by surprise the first giraffe that makes us imagine what the next days of South Africa await us on our own.
Hlane entrance
After delivering the reservation at the entrance of Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland, we go directly to Hlane Ndlovu Camp, located just a few meters, where we will stay tonight and where we do all the paperwork for at 2:00 In the afternoon we can go directly to the traditional rondavels where we will stay.
In addition to these procedures, we take the opportunity to reserve a game drive at dawn for tomorrow, which we will do with a ranger, for R375 per person, with whom we hope to learn many things about animal life and especially about those who live in Hlane Park in addition to passing to the lion area of the park, which can only be visited with these game drives.

Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland

Hlane National Park, with 22,000 hectares, is the largest conservation area in Swaziland, where you can see 4 of the Big Five.
As with the Kruger, you can tour the park in your own car or do any of the guided activities offered at the camp.
The Hlane Royal National Park Conservation Fee is R50 per person per day and is included in the Wild Card.
Daytime visitor hours are from 6am to 6pm and you can never, under any circumstances, drive at night in the park or between camps.
Hlane

Accommodation in Hlane Park

In Hlane Park you can stay at Hlane Ndlovu Camp, where we stayed or at Bhubesi Camp.
The camps are separated by 16 kilometers, with Ndlovu located in the heart of Hlane, right next to a pond with a large animal presence, while the Bhubesi camp is a quieter camp located outside the area of endangered species.
In our experience, it is best to stay at Hlane Ndlovu Camp since, in addition to being better located, it has all kinds of services, in Bhubesi, there is no restaurant and above all, it has the incredible extra of the surrounding landscape that is among the most incredible we have ever seen.
Pond of the Ndlovu Camp
Something important to note is that the Ndlovu camp does not have electricity and at night oil lamps are lit so that you can see.

Bhubesi

Simple, clean, and comfortable accommodation with electricity that includes bed linen and towels.
Located 16 kilometers from Ndlovu Camp, it features 6 linked stone cabins, with slightly elevated views along the Mbuluzi River.
Bhubesi Camp is outside the endangered species-area and large numbers of birds, lizards, and bushbuck can be seen in the surrounding area.

Hlane Ndlovu Camp

Simple, clean, and comfortable accommodation, without electricity that includes bed linen and towels.
The Ndlovu camp is 1 kilometer off Simunye Road, near the main gate of Hlane under countless ancient trees of incredible historical significance.
One of its great attractions is that it has a pond frequented by hippos, elephants and white rhinos as well as many birds.
Ndlovu Camp
Ndlovu Camp has five distinct areas:
  • Central Area: reception, activities, shop, and two large summer houses as well as a restaurant and terrace overlooking the pond.
  • Accommodation Units: The Big Hut, Liphiva, and Nyala cabins are located in the northeast of the central area of Ndlovu Camp.
  • Group cabins: Mabulane and Msholo cabins are located west of the restaurant.
  • Wisteria Village: a short drive through the campsite grounds, which can also be done perfectly on foot, is Wisteria Village, the area where the traditional rondavels, with private bathrooms, are the accommodation. most recommended in our experience.
  • Camping grounds: next to the central area is the camping area.
Map of Ndlovu Camp
Rondavel Ndlovu Camp

Services and facilities available at Hlane

Conferences

Large summer houses are available for groups.
Meetings and functions, without electricity.

Restaurant

Semi-open restaurant with 100 seats with a bar with a large open terrace overlooking a pool of water where you can often see hippos and crocodiles, elephants, and rhinos.
Buffet dinners, à la carte menus, and breakfasts are served.
Restaurant with rhinos at the back of Ndlovu Camp

Store

The camp has a small curio shop with souvenirs and essential items.

Things to do in Hlane

Hlane stretches along the jungle, riparian forests and savannas in which in addition to the self-drive (self-driving), you can carry out guided activities that leave from the reception of the Ndlovu Camp.
To do any of them, you must book at least 1 hour in advance (24 hours for overnight walks).

Walking safaris

They are carried out in groups of 2-8 people per guide and sightings in the area of endangered species are not included. Includes bottled water.

Game Drives

  • Sunrise Game Drive: with a duration of 2.5 hours, it is priced at R370 per person. In this game drive, you can enjoy the wildlife at dawn, including the restricted area of the lions, which cannot be accessed freely.
    In addition to the car safari, in case the ranger finds it suitable and safe, a short walk is made on foot to get up close to a rhinoceros.
    This safari includes tea/coffee and a snack halfway, in an area of the park where you can get off and have a small picnic.
    It should be noted that this activity is not available for travelers staying at the Bhubesi Camp unless a group activity of at least 6 people is carried out, with which it will be allowed to leave directly from this camp.
Game Drive Hlane Park
  • Sunset Game Drive: with a duration of 2.5 hours and a price of R375 per person, this safari in addition to the possibility of spotting numerous animals, is famous for the possibility of enjoying the sunset in a beautiful place. The game drive includes a drink.
    Please note that like Sunrise Game Drive, this safari is not available to guests staying at Bhubesi Camp, unless there is a group activity of at least 6 people.
  • Midday Game Drive – Lasting 2.5 hours and priced at R355 per person, this is the perfect alternative for travelers who don’t want to drive their car. All safaris include the León Area, which cannot be accessed freely, and the minimum age to do it is 6 years old.
Game Drive Hlane
  • Rhino Drive: Lasting 1.5 hrs and priced at R270 per person, this is the most popular tour in Hlane where the goal is to find the white rhino excluding the lion area.
    The highlight of this game drive is the opportunity to get out of the vehicle and walk with the ranger to a rhinoceros.
    Keep in mind that this is always done under the supervision of the ranger and it must be totally safe to do so. The minimum age to do this safari is 13 years old.
Rhinos in Hlane
Rhinoceros calf in Hlane
  • Self Drive: The most famous of the activities in Hlane is without a doubt the safaris in your own car. With endless paths to drive without a driver, suitable for normal cars in dry conditions, this is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in the park.
    Keep in mind that driving at night is strictly forbidden and all travelers must be in the camps or have left the park at 6pm.
    It is convenient to have a GPS and/or a map to be able to orient yourself in the park.
Hlane Safari
Impalas in Hlane
Keep in mind that all guided activities start from Ndlovu camp. Therefore, guests staying at Camp Bhubesi will not be able to do so unless a full group reservation is made and previously agreed with management to leave Camp Bhubesi.

Safaris at Hlane Park

As we mentioned before, one of the great attractions of Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland is the possibility of doing the safaris in your own car, except for the lion area, which can only be accessed with a guide. or perform a directed game drive.
In our experience, if you are going to spend the night here, we recommend doing a guided game drive at sunrise or sunset and the rest of the day doing the tour on your own.
Phacocero in Hlane
Roads in Hlane

Tips for visiting Hlane Park

  • The first and most important thing is to pay attention to the safety regulations and above all, comply with them. It is important not to forget that you are in an area where wild animals live and you are a guest.
  • As we discussed in the article in which we talked about car rental in South Africa, for Hlane it is important to carry a tall car, since although the vast majority of the trails are practicable with a passenger car, there are many potholes on the secondary roads.
  • The Dawn Game Drive starts at 5:30 in the morning and lasts 2 and a half hours in which in addition to the central area of Hlane you visit the area of the lions that cannot be accessed by yourself.
    The price is R375 per person and can be paid by credit card.
    We were the ones who did it and we have to say that the experience was incredibly rewarding.
Game Drive
  • Both the activities and the restaurant you can pay by credit card.
  • Keep in mind that there is no electricity or wifi, although you can buy a 50 mega voucher for R50.
  • Check-in for accommodations is at 2pm, although you can enter the park at any time you want and check-in at the indicated time.
Ndlovu Camp
With all the formalities already handled in the camp and after verifying that we have one of the most incredible locations in the world, being right next to a pond where some of the most emblematic animals of the park go, we return to the rental car to start the first safari in Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland .
And we can say that it could not have started better and that is that we have not been traveling more than 1 kilometer along a sandy track, when we come face to face with the first white rhinoceros, something that we would not have imagined in our best dreams.
Rhinoceros in Hlane
In this unexpected encounter, we spent more than half an hour taking pictures without stopping, to continue on our way and in less than two kilometers, give a break when we find a scene worthy of any documentary in which we find ourselves face to face with a family of rhinos , with a calf in a pond, that give us some of the most brutal scenes of this trip to South Africa.
Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland
Rhinos in Hlane Park
Something to take into account in these cases is to keep a safe distance, we cannot forget that they are wild animals, especially when there are young. Once you see that the animal has taken a position or is calm, you can turn off the car engine, always at a distance to be able to enjoy the scene.
Above all and under no circumstances can you get out of the car. This is something that must always be respected.
Rhinoceros calf
It is 1 in the afternoon when we decide, after these two incredible scenes, to go to the restaurant of our camp to eat and check-in, when we find another great surprise and that is that in the pond that presides over the camp, there are these moments four rhinos and 2 hippos, which make this place one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.
Rhinos at Ndolovu Camp Pond
Rhinos at Ndolovu Camp Pond
We ordered a steak plus a vegetarian burger, large water, beer and a couple of coffees for R250 that we enjoyed with views that we could never have imagined and that is, while we eat, we have the visit of a family of rhinos that pass again by the pond with a calf, which is another of the most incredible scenes of the trip, which we enjoy with our cup of coffee in front of the pond.
Rhinos at Ndolovu Camp Pond
Rhinos at Ndolovu Camp Pond
After this incredible gift and leaving the suitcases in which will be our charming rondavel for tonight, it is four in the afternoon when we return to the car to do another of the tours of the park, which give us incredible scenes, although less exciting than the ones we lived this morning with the rhinos in which we still have no chance to meet elephants, another of the inhabitants of Hlane.
Hlane Safari
Something that we check again in Hlane is that the indications in the park are really very scarce, so it is highly recommended to take an offline GPS as a complement to the paper map that they give at the entrance and that is a perfect complement to the previous one.
And so, when there are a few minutes to 6 in the afternoon, the time when the park closes and it begins to be prohibited to circulate, we return to the Hlane Ndlovu Camp where we enjoy a dinner in the restaurant in the light of the oil lamps Under a sky in which it seems a lie, so many stars can gather.
Sunset at Hlane

Map of today’s route from South Africa to Hlane Park, one of the places to see in Swaziland

We leave you a map of today’s route in which we have crossed the border of South Africa with Swaziland and later, arrive at Hlane Park, where we made the first safari of the trip.

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