GPS: S 25 05.366 E 030 27.228 | pop. 20,000 | elevation 1,403 m/4,603 ft
Mlawula Nature Reserve’s entrance gate (S 26 10.809 E 031 59.900, MR28, 383-8885, www.sntc.org.sz, 6am-6pm, E25) is on the MR28 about 4 km from the Mbuluzi Game Reserve gate. The 16,500-hectare nature reserve was established in 1980 and has 54 km of roads and 10 walking trails. There are a number of game species including monkey, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, impala, kudu and nyala as well as hundreds of species of birds.
There are 10 bushveld walking trails in the reserve for up-close encounters with the wildlife, ranging from 1hr to full day hikes. One of the trails leads to the Khabane Cave. Open vehicle guided day and night drives are available upon request and offer an opportunity to view some of the nocturnal animals and restricted areas of the reserve. Fishing in the rivers is also available with the purchase of a fishing permit.
For swimming check out the natural Python Pool scoured out of a rocky gorge. It's swimmable during the rainy season - but watch out for pythons.
Sara Camp consists of four permanent safari tents on wood platforms with proper beds inside and paraffin lamps and a small deck in front. The tents are spread out and offer a little privacy. Each tent has a wood fire heated, private open-air shower perched on the ledge of a hill and overlooks the nature reserve below. The central hut has a kitchen, refrigerator, inside lounge and a fire pit, with a braai area outside.
Mapelepele Cottage is a stone and thatched roof, large cottage with gas and electricity, about 100 m from the Sara Camp. There is an indoor fireplace and an upper level with an outdoor deck.
Sophiso Campsite has a large open layout with a braai area and water tap for each campsite. There is a main lodge with bathrooms and washing facilities.