Swaziland Game Parks
These past two weeks in Swaziland were filled with many incredible memories and places such as the three game parks. We started our trip in Mlilwane. The difference between Milwane and the other parks we visited is that Mlilwane only has antelope and smaller animals, no big herbivores or predators. Because of this we were able to do activities in the park without fear of running into elephants or lions. Our first activity was a hike up to Execution Rock: it was about a two hour long hike but ended with an incredible view of Swaziland.
We also split into two groups and went biking and horseback riding through the park. With the horseback riding we were once again divided, one group walked around the park while the other was filled with experienced riders who galloped and cantered across the land. Being on animals meant we were able to get closer to the wild animals because they weren't as scared. We ended up being almost an arm's length away from zebras and antelope.
While half of the group was horseback riding the other half rode bikes. The bike ride focused more on flora rather than fauna stopping and examining the foliage of Swaziland. Although we were not able to get up close to the animals, we still saw many beautiful animals such as the crocodile. Both the bike and horse groups saw a huge crock nesting.
One other highlights at the park was that with no major predators present, many of the animals were comfortable around people. Outside of our huts, we were able to see nyala (African antelope) and warthogs walking around in their environment. The warthogs would lie in front of the fire that was in the middle of the camp to get warm while we all walked past.
After Mlilwane we went to work but it was not the end of our Safari adventures. After several days of work, we traveled to out next park, Hlane. This park gave us the opportunity to drive out into the park which had been separated into three sections, Rhino, Main and Lion to see these animals from the safety of a safari vehicle. Everyone was excited to see the big animals and we were not disappointed. In Hlane we had three game drives, two at dawn and one at dusk. We were driving out of the camp at 5:30 in the mornings so we had to wake up bright and early. We went out at dawn and dusk because that is when the animals are most active. Just like us, they didn't want to be running around in the hot midday sun. Throughout our rides we saw many incredible animals such as rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffes and lions. The lion pride was made up of three females and two males. Our drivers told us that one of the females was the mother of the the other two and one of the sisters was the mother of the two young males. The most exciting animal we saw, especially for the Robinsons, had to be the elephants. On the last Swazi service trip two years ago, the Robinson sons Jay and Kai named a one tusked male elephant they saw "Tusky". We all saw "Tusky" on this trip and all the Robinsons were so excited.
Our last game park was Mkhaya. Mkhaya was different because it had one area where all of the animals lived instead of three separate sections and they came much closer to us. We did two game drives and saw so many incredible animals and lots of babies like baby rhinos and giraffes. The most thrilling part of Mkhaya was our accommodations. We slept in houses without walls that had gates you had to keep closed just in case some curious hyenas came by. The rooms were full of spiders and even a scorpion had crawled inside one room. Needless to say, everyone had and exciting, if not stressful, night. These three parks that we were fortunate to experience gave us the chance explore a vast array of wildlife in a way that we had never imagined. All 23 of us will keep these memories for years to come. It was an incredible experience none of us will forget.
Bridget M, Mackenzie ‘19