Sondzela Backpackers (SB)


Where do you find a backpackers INSIDE a game reserve? Sondzela is an easy, safe and peaceful launch pad to Swaziland, located at the southern tip of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. A super relaxing base to chill and meet other like-minded travellers, guests can get active in Nature or simply enjoy the swimming pool, games room, Hog ‘n Wart Bar and Mlilwane Rest Camp’s facilities just 2km from Sondzela Backpackers.

Accommodation is varied, and guests are encouraged to get out and about participating in Mlilwane’s activities and the many exciting options Swaziland has to offer. DSTV, laundry and large kitchens and communal braai area are available making this a social hub of note. Sondzela has a large safe parking area for self-drive guests.

Situated between Mbabane and Manzini, with 24-hour access to the Sanctuary, guests are free to enjoy the neighbouring tourist hubs of Ezulwini and Malkerns, with their many unique attractions and craft shops. A free Shuttle to and from Malandela's Restaurant & Internet Cafe is available daily at specified times, or guests can walk out to Malkerns and catch taxis.

Sondzela is an international facility reserved for budget travellers visiting Swaziland. Sondzela is not available to locals and is reserved for overnight guests only, no day visitors. We have chosen this route to safeguard the purpose of international travel, with the resulting contribution to the GDP of Swaziland. Big Game Parks caters for local market within the greater range of our products and parks.

Essential Information: Please note gates are open for check-in from Sunrise to Sunset, otherwise 24 hour access. All access is through Mlilwane’s main Sangweni Gate on the Esitjeni road, near Lobamba.


Breakfast and dinner is served daily, prepared and served under the trees around the large communal fire. Bookings are made with the ladies at Reception.

A light continental breakfast includes eggs, toast, and cereals. Guests wanting to experience Swazi culture can try out the indengane, a thin porridge mealie meal.

Dinners ranging from Swazi bush braais to venison potjies (stews) are prepared on the open fire in a very sociable setting.

Lunch is not served at Sondzela. Mlilwane's Hippo Haunt Restaurant is highly recommended with a great A La Carte Menu, or our ladies can suggest alternatives while you are exploring the Malkerns and Ezulwini Valleys close by.Our large kitchens are well equipped, making self-catering easy and pleasurable. Comprehensive supermarkets are available in Malkerns, Ezulwini and Matsapha. Mahlanya fresh produce market at the Malkerns junction is a must-do Swazi market experience.


Mlilwane’s activities are what stand this experience apart – horse ride, mountain bike, or simply walk among many tolerant wildlife species. The best part is that you don’t even need a guide, except on the horses. The self-guided trails and mountain biking can keep you busy for hours. Spend a few days and top up on your fitness, running or hiking along the trails before travelling further. It is not often such opportunity presents itself – stunning scenery, wildlife and trails!

Horse Riding & Game Drives

These activities depart from Mlilwane Rest Camp, a quick 15 min walk from Sondzela Backpackers, or a 15 minute drive by internal roads.

Self-drive & Mountain Biking

These activities are available from Sondzela. Mlilwane maps are on sale at Reception.

The Umphakatsi Cultural Experience & the Esitjeni Village Walk

Two wonderful group activities for 4 or more people provide an insight into traditional Swazi life.

Day Tours

Unforgettable Big Game experiences are on offer at Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve (1h15 – 1h30 drive). Guests get there on their own steam. Self-drive and guided safaris are available at Hlane, and prebooked guided Day Tours at Mkhaya include consservation fee, game drives and lunch.

Beyond Mlilwane, Swaziland offers days of activity and adventure – book through our Reception for White Water Rafting, Caving, Quad Biking, Tubing, Malolotja Canopy Tour and various cultural tours.

Organisation type
Part of
Izele is supported by
Darwin Initiative Wildlands Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Critical Ecosystem Partnership fund

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