Sondzela Backpackers




The Review

Sondzela Backpackers sits on a ridge overlooking Mlilwane Nature Reserve and is a comfortable and convenient place to base yourself to walk the extensive trails.

The Location

Located off the road to Malkerns Valley, the turnoff to this place is reached from Manzini on a "Bhunya" or "Mankayane" minibus. Ask to be dropped at Vickery Seedlings, where a signposted dirt road leads straight to the reserve night gate, then Sondzela, a twenty-minute walk through sugar cane fields.

Rooms and Bathrooms

Sondzela has private chalets, rooms, and an attic twelve-bed dorm with safes provided for your valuables. The dorm beds are all singles -- no bunks -- with comfy mattresses and fans, as it can get a bit hot under the roof in the sunny afternoons. There is a toilet, bath, and two sinks for dorm users. There is a shower downstairs and an ablutions block outside. Check to be sure the geysers are on if you want hot water. There is a six-bed bunk dorm as well. Everything is kept very clean.

Common Spaces

Downstairs, where you book in at reception, there is a large sitting area with TV, cushioned seating, and a dining table for breakfast. Dinners are eaten in the garden by the barbecue. There is a swimming pool (the water was a little dirty for bathing when we stayed there) and there are tables with chairs for sitting outside. The kitchen is for guest use and has a toaster, hot-water boiler, microwave, a few electric stoves, and fridges. Pots, pans, and utensils can be found in the cupboards.

The staff will cook breakfast and dinner for a very reasonable price and the helpings are huge. In the kitchen, you can help yourself to free tea and coffee all day. At reception, you pay for your stay, the one-off entry fee for the nature reserve, your meals and a small bed levy. You must keep all receipts, as they may be checked. Hog and Warts bar is at the back of the house and usually opens at 6 p.m. There are drinks and snacks available at the reception desk. The bar has table tennis, pool table, and a flat-screen television. There is plenty of space in the huge gardens for camping and you may meet some of the wild game that strolls through the grounds.


This is a great value place to stay. The place is really clean and it’s on the southern edge of the nature reserve, so all the trails are easily accessible. They have a Wi-Fi hot spot for which you buy vouchers at reception and the staff are always on hand to answer your questions. What a great place!
by Londonroad Staff Reviewer
Photos taken by the reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
Front Gate
Reception & Shop
Sitting Room
House From The Back Garden
Double & Twin Huts
Common Kitchen
Hog & Warts Bar
Swimming Pool
Barbecue Area


(Location is approximate. You may need to pan/move to find "Sondzela Backpackers" at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.)


Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Malkerns, Swaziland
-26.495752, 31.195872 (accuracy not guaranteed)
(+268) 528 3117
(+268) 528 3924
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How is Sondzela Backpackers rated on other websites?

  Cleanliness Location Atmosphere Overall
(180 ratings)
Not listed on HostelBookers.
Not listed on HostelsClub.
(3 ratings)
88% Guest Reviews

The BEST you can find
The best backpacker's place you can find. Great location in the middle of nise Reserve with many animals and nice track around nature.
Age 50, Canada
Quite and beautiful surroundings
It was a nice quiet place, which was just what we needed in the middle of our three week trip across southern Africa. The staff left the premises by 6pm and we arrived just after 6pm so it was interesting upon arrival. We had a small run-in with a fellow guest that could have been better dealt with if staff were present. Once we met the staff they were nice.
Age 27, USA
Dirty and unfriendly staff.
We stopped in at Sondzela looking for a place to sleep over for the night, although the setting was great, we found the place dirty and swarming with house flies, there must have been thousands inside and out, after being shown the rooms also swarming with flies we decided not to stay over, it was then that the receptionist suddenly insisted that we had to pay a R35 park entrance fee each! We had only been there less than 10 minutes and nobody informed us of this charge when we entered the park only when we wanted to leave, not even the main park gate mentioned this! No thanks, this place won't see me again!
M Taylor
You must go there
I loved it there,if you like the outdoors and wildlife its a must. Friendly staff, clean accommodation, monkeys on the door step in the morning and a family of warthog just wandering around. The views are amazing as well, I cant wait to go back.
richard emms
Very pleasant
This is a great place to relax, with a well-staffed, well-maintained site, with something of a spacious farmhouse feel. With the game reserve a few steps away, you certainly won't feel claustrophobic. Definitely recommended.
Eric Savage
(South Africa)
Friendly Staff, Clean, Safe, and tasty traditional cooked meals.
If you love being in nature, Sondzela is the place to be in Swaziland. The hostel is in a superb setting (Milwane wildlife sanctuary). As a woman I wondered into the wild on my own and felt absolutely safe. It's clean, dorm is spacious and very safe. Will recommend to anyone traveling to Swaziland.
Denise Meyer
(South African)
The Location Sondzela Backpackers has a unique location in the Mlilwane Wildlife Reserve, about a fifteen-minute drive from Mbabane on the road between Mbabane and Manzini. As this is a wildlife reserve, there are no services available other than those in the hostel itself. To visit Mbabane it takes about a twenty-minute walk to the bus stop. A hostel shuttle meets the Bazbus backpacker bus and this shuttle also does a drop-off and pick-up to Mbabane each morning and evening. Rooms and Bathrooms There are single rooms, double rooms, and dorm rooms available. The rooms are spacious and the hostel provides clean bed linen. Bathrooms are separate from the dorm rooms and are big and clean. Hot water is always available. Valuables can be stored in reception as there are no security lockers in the rooms. Private rondawels are also available. It is also possible to camp. The hostel is fenced off from the wildlife reserve, but the odd warthog or ostrich does find its way into the hostel garden. Common Spaces There is an outdoor swimming pool. In the main building, there is a common area with some couches where travelers can relax and watch DSTV. There are two games areas with pool tables and ping-pong tables and other games. The kitchen is small but is available for guests' use. Each evening there is a meal prepared by the hostel staff for a small charge and often includes local Swazi specialties. This is served around a nightly campfire. A good, cheap breakfast is also available in the mornings. The hostel also accepts South African rand currency. There is a small shop in the hostel where guests can purchase snacks and refreshments including beer. There is lots of information available on local tourist activities in Swaziland, South Africa, and Mozambique. The staff can offer advice on activities, transport, and on visas to Mozambique. Summary This is a great hostel -- with a unique location, it is a great way to spend a day, walking around the wildlife sanctuary taking pictures of the roaming zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthog, and ostrich. Crocs and hippos are also in the park, so you have to be careful near water areas.
  Absolutely amazing. A "must see" for backpackers in Southern Africa. Great staff, lovely food cooked on the fire, nice prices. Also great for families with children. A place I would definitely visit again.
Sofia Morgan

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