Located just twenty-five kilometers north of the Swazi capital of Mbabane, Hawane Nature Reserve -- in Hawane, Swaziland -- is a protected area of wetlands along the Mbuluzi River. It is reached via the MR1 turnoff, fourteen kilometers northwest along the MR3. It is only thirty-two kilometers east of the Oshoek border post with South Africa, south of Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park. This makes it a possible day trip from Nelspruit by private car, for those wanting just a small taste of Swaziland. From Mbabane, the nature reserve is well served by local minibus taxis traveling up to Piggs Peak along the MR1.
The nature reserve was established in the late seventies and is managed by the Swaziland National Trust Commission. It is a haven for birdwatchers, as well as a peaceful escape to nature from the capital and a very easy day trip by car or public transport. The reserve was expanded in the late eighties, following the building of the Hawane Dam.
The endemic Kniphofia umbrina can be found here -- it is type of red-hot poker and is extremely rare. Birds such as the Lanner falcon, white-faced whistling duck, black-collared barbet, and Pied kingfisher can also be found here.
The nature reserve is served by some hostel accommodation. Hawane, Swaziland hostels have a number of dorm beds, some of which are housed in a converted stable. Budget travelers therefore have the option to stay in the area, rather than just day trip from Mbabane. Hawane, Swaziland hostels are fairly basic, but as tourists discover this beautiful area, more options may appear over time.
The larger Malolotja Nature Reserve is just eleven kilometers further north of Hawane along the MR1, and has Swaziland's highest waterfall. The reserve covers a variety of habitats from montane forest to bushveld and grasslands. It is the largest protected area in the kingdom and is a very easy short hop from Hawane.
Horse riding is a big attraction here. The countryside is beautiful, with "koppies" (granite hills) and sweeping grasslands making an ideal day out for horse riders and hikers alike and offers an insight into more traditional Swazi village life.
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