Attraction Type: Landscape/Scenic, Wildlife
Mlawula Nature Reserve
Covering an area of about 16 500 ha, the reserve has the impressive Lubombo Mountains running along its boundary. Beautifully scenic, there is a diverse variety of fauna and flora. Accommodation includes luxury en-suite tents, a cottage and a campsite. There are 54 kms of road open to visitors for game viewing and 10 walking trails ranging from 1.5 km to a full-day hike. Other activities include fishing and guided walks.
Due to the combination of lowveld and Lubombo escarpement, as well as its regional location Mlawula's flora and fauna are diverse, and the reserve attracts visitors who are interested in various types of plants and animals.
About 350 species of birds have been recorded in Mlawula, out of just under 500 species recorded for the whole of Swaziland. This includes species such as the African finfoot, African broadbill and Bateleur eagles. You can download a comprehensive list of these species by clicking here Over sixty species of small and large mammals have been recorded in the reserve, including re-introduced species, but this does not include elephant or lion, allowing for the reserve policy where visitors can explore the area on foot without a guide. Reptiles recorded in the reserve include the Natal hinged tortoise and the Lubombo flat lizard. A similar diversity of amphibians is found, with 21 species of frogs and toads recorded, and 39 species of fish have been recorded in the rivers. The invertebrates are not well studied, but the area is rewarding to those with an interest in animals such as spiders or butterflies.
The flora of Mlawula is notable for its great richness and diversity, more especially in the deep rocky ravines of the Lubombo mountains; here, almost pure stands of the unique Lubombo Ironwood may be found, and in their shade grows a cycad found nowhere else in the world, as well as many uncommon succulents and climbers.
The Mbuluzi river valley provides a floral link with the Mozambican coastal flats, and several species of plant more typical of that area grow here. The higher ravines and south-facing valleys tend to support a wetter type of forest or thicket, and are well worth a visit. The dryer Siphiso valley is characterised by knobthorn savanna, with bushwillow species on the rocky ridges. The flora of the reserve comprises about 1035 plant species including 55 alien species.
The Mlawula Nature Reserve is also part of a new initiative which will see a number of Eco Trails developed within the Lubombo Mountains. Eco walks and treks will be opened up, to allow visitors to explore the area better on foot, as well connect to local projects and communities. Click here for more information.