Hlane Royal National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Swaziland  

Once the royal hunting ground, Hlane Royal National Park is now one of the top parks for visitors to Swaziland (Eswatini) with four of the Big Five present (buffalo are absent). The park was close to depleted of wildlife in the early 1960s, but with Big Game Parks’ conservation efforts and the reintroduction of animals, the park has recovered greatly.

Pros & Cons


Four of the Big Five present (buffalo absent)
Great birdlife
Affordable self-catering accommodation
Family friendly
Restaurant overlooking a waterhole
Self-drive allowed except in the lion enclosure
Game drives, bush walks and mountain biking available
Big animals are kept in separate enclosures
Small game-drive circuit
Lion enclosure is only accessible on guided tours
Lack of wilderness appeal


Wildlife & Animals

Hlane’s flagship species include lion, elephant, white rhino, giraffe and hippo with good populations of zebra, blue wildebeest and warthog. The most common antelope is impala and they roam around in large herds. Other antelope often seen include greater kudu, nyala and waterbuck. Common duiker and bushbuck can be found in the thickets. Hyena are often heard at night, but rarely seen.

Wildlife Highlights


Lions are kept in a large, separate enclosure and can be seen on a guided game drive. This means that sightings are pretty much guaranteed. Another highlight is the rhino drive, one of the activities on offer. Here, the focus is on the white rhino, with the opportunity to disembark the vehicle and approach a rhino on foot.


Birds

Hlane Royal National Park is home to more than 250 bird species. It has a dense population of birds of prey, including five vulture species. The park sustains in fact the highest density of tree-nesting vultures in southern Africa. Red-billed oxpecker, which was extinct in Swaziland (eSwatini), has made a comeback here, and big colonies of red-billed queleas nesting is a sight to behold. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

Hlane offers good wildlife viewing throughout the year. Many of the flagship species are kept in large drive-through enclosures, making them easy to find. However, the best wildlife viewing is during the dry winter months, from May to September. The bush thins out and animals gather around waterholes and rivers. Conditions tend to improve as winter progresses, and September is particularly lovely.

May to September – Dry Season


Wildlife viewing is at its best
Sunny skies and no rain
Mild daytime temperatures and low humidity
It is very dry and dusty
Early morning game drives in open vehicles are cold


October to April – Wet Season


The scenery is green and fresh
There are many baby animals, and the wildlife is in good condition
Birding is excellent, and migratory birds are present
Wildlife viewing is not as good as during the Dry season
It is hot and humid in the middle of the day


Weather & Climate

Hlane experiences winter and summer at the opposite times as Europe and North America. The wet summer months (October to April) are hot and often humid. Winter (May to September) is warm and mild, although it cools off considerably at night. Take warm clothing for early morning and evening game drives.

Dry Season – May to September – Winter


There is virtually no rainfall during the whole of winter and the humidity is very low. Water becomes scarce in the bush, and animals are drawn to permanent water sources.

May – This is a transitional month and marks the end of summer. Temperatures are cooling down to typically 13°C/55°F in the morning and 27°C/81°F in the afternoon.
June, July & August – Morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold, so it's advisable to pack warm clothing. The average morning temperature is 11°C/52°F. Afternoons will be pleasant with temperatures around 25°C/77°F and cloudless skies.
September – The heat gradually builds to about 28°C/82°F in the afternoon, and the first rains bring relief from very dry conditions. Mornings are mild, with temperatures around 15°C/59°F.


Wet Season – October to April – Summer


It can be uncomfortably hot and humid in summer. Peak temperatures frequently reach well over 40°C/104°F, although average daytime temperatures are around 30°C/86°F, with high humidity. It seldom rains all day, but the pattern is afternoon storms.


October & November – It gets warmer and it starts to rain more often, mostly in the afternoon. Temperatures are between 18°C/64°F in the morning and 29°C/84°F in the afternoon.
December, January & February – These are the wettest and hottest months, with torrential downpours in the afternoon and high humidity. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 31°C/88°F but can soar up to an unbearable 40°C/104°F.
March & April – Rainfall decreases and it slowly gets colder. April has lovely clear weather and few clouds. The nights get a bit colder but are still pleasant at about 17°C/63°F. Daytime temperatures are around 29°C/84°F, and the humidity drops.


Getting There

Swaziland (eSwatini) is almost completely surrounded by South Africa. Most people visit Hlane as part of a larger tour of South Africa.

People visiting Hlane Royal National Park typically fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), near Johannesburg, as their entry point into the region.

If you’re on a self-drive tour of South Africa and Swaziland, you could hire a car in Johannesburg. The distance from Johannesburg to Hlane is about 450km/280mi, and the driving time is about five hours.


You could also fly from Johannesburg to King Mswati III International Airport (SHO) in Manzini, hire a car here and drive to Hlane. The distance is about 70km/45mi and the drive takes about one hour.