About Mkhaya Game Reserve
In the south-east of Swaziland, the heart of the lowveld, lies an unspoilt wilderness, haven to endangered species who roam 25 sq. miles of magnificent African bush. For the animals that once roamed wild and free, uninhibited by fences and boundaries, they faced and still face an uncertain future with man’s compulsion toward maximum yield, poaching and lack of ignorance toward nature conservation and protection of our natural heritage. These once abundant animals that could be seen for miles around were, and some still are, close to extinction. It became clear to the Reilly Family, Swaziland’s foremost nature conservationists, that these animals needed a place of refuge, and tranquility and the absence of menacing man and his gun, and Mkhaya was the perfect place. Mkhaya was established in 1979 to save the pure Nguni breed of cattle from extinction and is a proclaimed Nature Reserve. Its focus has expanded over the years to include other endangered species such as black rhino, roan & sable antelope, tsessebe, white rhino, elephant and other locally endangered species. Mkhaya Game Reserve, named after the Acacia nigrescens tree, comprises of acacia-dominated thornveld in the south and broadleaf sandveld in the north. Unique, intimate encounters with Mkhaya’s wildlife are almost guaranteed as all travel within the reserve is solely by Big Game Parks’ open Land Rovers or on foot (all guided) and the reserve is criss-crossed with dry riverbeds, dotted with waterholes and has a network of intertwined game-viewing roads.
Accommodation at Mkhaya
After a day out in the hot African bush, come back to the camp that is sited in bird-rich riverine forests and enjoy an ice-cold drink under the giant sausage tree or retire to the comfortable African safari-style accommodation and sit back and enjoy real nature. Mkhaya is staffed and patrolled entirely by Swazis from neighbouring communities and currently boasts what is arguably Africa’s most effective anti-poaching unit. Mkhaya is totally self-financing through visitor revenues. Your support is greatly appreciated as a means of sustaining this unique international conservation effort. A trip to Mkhaya is a trip into Real Africa – a soul enriching, quality experience you’ll never forget!
Stone Camp is laid out along the banks of a dry river bed where the vegetation comprises of tall fig, leadwood, sausage and knobthorn trees, with a lush under-canopy giving it a year-round subtropical appearance. Bird life in the camp is a special feature with seven species of robin, purple-crested lourie, narina trogan and pink-throated twinspots among the special treats. Smaller game such as warthog visit the camp whilst the big game, such as elephant, is kept at bay outside the camp by a three-strand electric cordon. The camp is comfortable, quiet and relaxing and a welcome retreat after a day out in the burning sun.
Stone Camp is so nameed due to the dolerite rocks used in constructing the various structures, essentially comprises of two types of accommodation, one type being tented and the other semi-open stone and thatch. The safari-style accommodation in its primeval setting offers visitors the opportunity of really getting back to nature. All units are laid out individually in the riverine forest overlooking the dry riverbed, linked by central and branch pathways surfaced with river sand and lit at night by paraffin lanterns. Each unit has total privacy due to the thick vegetation, though some units are close enough together for use as an extended family unit. The unique style semi-open plan cottages are constructed using local rocks, hardwood timbers and thatch. Dolerite pillars support a high thatch roof and cement floors with low walls, no windows or doors. The entire internal structure of these cottages, although veiled for privacy, is open to the external bush, which gives visitors a totally unique, true bush experience. There is no electricity in Stone Camp. Water pumping, electric fence power and limited lighting in the camp is provided by solar power. Refrigeration is gas powered and most lighting is by candle and paraffin lantern. The central camp comprises of a dolerite and thatch summerhouse, which serves as a relaxation area, bar, administration point and curio shop, a campfire as well as a thatched dining area where all meals are served. This is all shaded under the canopy of a single giant sausage tree (Kigelia africana), which dominates the camp. There is a kitchen unit for staff use only, which is discretely located nearby. All meals are buffet style, served under the thatched dining area. Although not striving for high levels of sophistication, the meals are high quality, tasty, wholesome and well suited to the surroundings. Special Swazi menu items are often included for adventurous visitors to try. Homemade bread, venison in the form of wildebeest, impala and warthog, fresh fruit and vegetables and rich desserts are an integral part of the menu. A selection of South African beer and wines, as well as a limited double tot bar is available. Visitors are kindly asked to support the camp and not to bring their own beverages. All water in the camp is considered safe for drinking. Tea and coffee are served in the accommodation units every morning and serves as a wake up call for the morning game drive.
Overnight visitors are met at the predetermined time (either 10h00 or 16h00) by Mkhaya personnel at the Phuzamoya meeting point on the main road. The Mkhaya guide will indicate where your car will be housed overnight – whether inside the park or at the Siphofaneni Police Station, depending on the level of the river. You, and your overnight bag, then embark your Mkhaya experience by open Land Rover. Once you enter the reserve, the guide will take you to the Ranger’s house, where you enjoy a glass of fruit juice and sign the claim waiver, whilst the ranger stocks up on ice-cold spring water, and then depart on a slow introductory game-drive until lunch if a morning arrival, or until sunset if an afternoon arrival. Game drives are normally conducted at sunrise, late afternoon and at midday. The midday drive offers superb waterhole game viewing and is one of the most popular activities. Visitors are encouraged to periodically disembark from the Land Rover and pursue game on foot, under the guidance of experienced rangers. Walking is actively encouraged and longer walks for those who prefer them can be arranged. All walks and game drives are included in the price.