We have been in Swaziland over a year and still haven’t went to Mkhaya, so guess what… EXACTLY…. we scheduled our tour and went this past weekend. We didn’t realize that the tour was an over twice as long as the other safaris in Swazi but that just made us even more excited!!! That just meant we would have more time to capture photos of more animals.
When you make the appointment they tell you the directions for the location but what isn’t explained and I think it should be is that you are going to park and wait BEHIND a small community store near a “village”. There is a sign there that lets you know that you are at the right place as well as advising you to not encourage begging. I will admit I felt uncomfortable sitting there behind this little store on a dirt road and before long we had a bunch of children playing around our car and asking for everything from water to money to things inside our car. It is hard to not give them a bottle of water or a pack of candy while we are sitting there in cars waiting for our guide. We joked and laughed with the kids as they danced and tried to keep our attention while begging us for things. Our guide was extremely late meeting with us and we had no way of contacting anyone since the main office is closed on weekends. Once our guide arrives we are taken to a “farm house” and told where to park our cars, where the bathrooms are, and we are treated with juice and water bottles as we wait for our guide to return with a safari vehicle. The first half of the safari was absolutely wonderful. We learned a lot of interesting information about the animals, the park and our guide during our tour. They have a lot of the usual safari animals except big cats. They also have a few things that we haven’t seen at the other places such as lots and lots of babies!!!! Seeing a baby zebra or giraffe is something that you have to see for yourself to truly understand the feeling we got. I was overjoyed to see the babies in the park; it made me realize that Swaziland is a leader in conservation.
Around lunch we are taken to the central destination for those that are staying over night as well as where the lunch is served. They offer a buffet type lunch that includes bread, an entrée and a dessert. You have a little museum and a shop right there as well. I must say that this lunch break was so enjoyable mainly because of the people. As we were eating we had monkeys watching us from a distance in the trees and a few Nyala’s just walking around without a care in the world. We were slightly disappointed to learn that they only do the traditional dance for the dinner guest, but they surprised by quickly changing and coming back to do a few songs for our group. Afterwards they joked with us and wanted to see our pictures of them before we left.
On the second half of our park safari we were greeted with another driver Unfortunately this driver wasn’t as friendly as the first driver because he was in a rush to get us back to the gate because we were running late (at no fault of our own). We didn’t see but one animal on this return journey and the driver was flying through the park. He kept saying how we took too long at the lunch and he had to meet his next guest, we tried explaining that our trip had been behind from the beginning because the original guide was late. But it didn’t matter he was determined to make it on time for the next guest, but for us it was really upsetting. He did slow down when he came across a rhino but after I got one picture of it he continued saying he must get back and sped off from the animal. Unfortunately, we didn’t see even one elephant during this safari trip and since they are one of my favorite animals I was disappointed just a little.
I will admit, I couldn’t believe we paid so much more then we usually do for what we thought was going to be a longer guided safari and lunch to only REALLY have the same amount of time as the other safari’s, but we just basically paid extra for the lunch and to top it off we even saw less animals and were treated poorly on the return journey.
Even with the disappointment of the trip back to our car, our trip at Mkhaya was amazing. In the US, we have no idea the feeling of what it is like to see these animals in their true natural habitat outside of a zoo or a cage. To be able and witness a baby only a few weeks old surviving and being in the wild is one of those things that I will never forget. The animals that we did see at Mkhaya were just beautiful, healthy and WILD plus I did see a few “first”, which is just plain unforgettable to me. The first driver and the women at lunch really made this trip special and that is why I know I will return to try Mkhaya again.
I will say that I still think Hlane is my favorite safari in Swaziland even though I do plan on returning to Mkhaya so that we can see the progress of a few of the babies. Mkhaya is different from the other safari’s by the fact that you have more time in the park and I assume as long as you are not running late, then you get to see a lot more animals then the other parks, it was just a bad day for our tour. In no way does the few negative events that happened during our trip change my mind about how wonderful the park and all the parks in Swaziland are. I know everyone has a bad day from time to time, we are human and mistakes happen.
You will see:
A few notes about Mkhaya:
In order to visit Mkhaya you must reserve your safari in advance.
Do not be discouraged at the meeting point (although I do think they need to make it a little more “tourist friendly”.)
They have 10am or 4pm safaris
Keywords: Africa, BigGameParks, Expat, Explore, Family, JustDrive, Photography, Safari, South, SouthAfrica, Sundays, Swaziland, Travel, Wildlife
No comments posted.