Safari Day Trip In Hlane, Swaziland
by Whitney Deal
(Dalton, Georgia, USA)
They were greedy for the camera and decided to
block our path so we couldn't leave!
Hlane National Park is one of the few places in Swaziland where it's still possible to see lion in their natural habitat. Whitney paid the park a visit and here are her impressions...
Where was your safari?
Hlane Royal National Park; Swaziland.
Which safari company did you travel with?
We just followed the zebras into the park...
We were in Swaziland teaching in high schools about AIDS awareness and just decided to hop on over for a day of peering into the lives of African animals.
How did the staff at the park perform?
The staff at Hlane were wonderful. They knew where to go to see everything and how long to wait. Our tour guide sped up in the Land Rover to catch up with ever so fast cheetahs!
The food was amazing as well as the chance we got to just hang out in the lounge chairs overlooking the lake with feeding rhinos. They were fenced in of course. :)
Describe the wildlife you saw and what the highlights were...
We saw everything from zebras to cheetahs to elephants to rhinos. There were several highlights but the one that sticks out in my mind was the journey to find the lions.
Towards the end of our tour, our tour guide informed us that we had seen just about all the animals in the park except for the lions. So we started looking in all directions hoping for a glimpse of the King of the Jungle.
We saw vultures overhead and we decided we should to go to them. Why you might ask? Well, the vultures are after dead animals. The lions with their hunting instinct, would have just had a feeding and left the remains for the vultures. As we got up with the circulating vultures, we saw the remains of some exotic Swazi animal that never had a chance. The tour guide said it looked pretty fresh (how he knew that I don't know) and said we weren't far off.
As we kept driving deeper into the bush, one of my team members swear he spotted a cub! So we sat and waited...and waited and waited. And out of nowhere the mama lion comes strolling by; not moved by our presence. Our gaze followed her strut across our path as we tried to catch our breath. She led us to a whole family of lions and many cubs! Our mission was complete and we lingered with whispers and lots of picture taking of the family who tried to nap.
But where was the papa lion? We drove about 10 feet more and found him fast asleep by a big tree. We knew it was the papa because of his impressive mane and because he didn't even offer to do the dishes after dinner.
Another highlight was the numerous ostriches that were free to roam the park. As I was eating lunch, one awkwardly walked up to me with its long neck and big eyes and started to eat the chips from my plate! And I awkwardly fell out of my chair. :)
Where did you stay and what was the accommodation like?
We did not have time to spend the night at the safari. We stayed in Emkuzweni, however, in huts on a traditional homestead. I shared a space with 10 girls and 2 Swazi women and had the time of my life! This way of living was cheap and we were able to have real relationships with the people.
Tips and advice for people planning their own safari...
Learn how to guide your own safari in Southern Africa.
Safari trip rating from 1 to 10 (10 being the best, 1 being the worst)?
9. It only would have been a 10 if I would have had more time there!
Anything else you want to add?
There is a strange magnetism to Africa. A land of desperation, poverty and disease wouldn't normally draw people back. But Africans are joyful and resilient amidst their circumstances! That's what draws people back time and time again!
There is also a beauty to the people and the land that will surround you. Everywhere you go you feel a spirit of peace and joy. This makes for a very enjoyable safari experience as you escape your hectic life...if only for a few days.
|Whitney Deal's Safari Details:|
Safari company used: Self Drive (make an enquiry)
Parks visited: Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland
Date of safari: 1 day, July 22nd
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