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Swaziland in January

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We will be visiting our daughter in Swaziland in January, when it will be quite warm. She is in the Peace Corps so we would like to take her to places that are fun and have accommodations with running water and air conditioning, luxuries for her. I am somewhat confused about the safari options and whether staying at Mbuluzi is a good idea for a safari at Hlane? Open to any suggestions for spending a week in Swaziland.

Since it will be summer there and winter at home, we may also be interested in going to the Indian Ocean for a couple of days. Not sure if the best options are in South Africa or Mozambique. We probably will fly in and out of JNB, although could go back thru Durban to JNB. Any suggestions?

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    There are a few nice game reserves in S Africa just south of Swaziland in KwaZulu Natal (my favorite part of S Africa) I would choose instead of staying in Swaziland, or in combo with Swaziland. On a reasonable budget you could stay in the Zululand Rhino Reserve at Leopard Mtn or Rhino River Lodge. I love the reserve and both are pretty luxurious and include all food and game drive (and a/c and hot water) for an affordable price. Rhino River Lodge has a cottage and cabins appropriate for families with two bedrooms and sitting areas inside and out. The cabins don't have a view but are very private, the cottage has a view of the river which might be running in summer. If you prefer a public reserve, Hilltop in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi can't be beat. Really nice bungalows with great views, good restaurant or self cater. You can self drive to search for wildlife and also do ranger led drives and walks. If you want to blow the budget, Phinda is very nice. All of these options will be much more luxurious than Hlane - Hlane is just okay, in my view.

    Since you have a week, you could combine a view days in St Lucia in a condo, guest house or AirBnB house rental. It's a very fun town with lots of activities, good restaurants, excellent beach. See www.stlucia.co.za for some info. Then go to a game reserve (as above) for a few days. If the activities don't interest you, I love the town of Zinkwazi Beach. It might not have enough services for you but it's a great beach town away from the cities. Princes Grant and Zimbali are private estates with private beaches and excellent golf. They have house rentals - really nice houses!

    Richards Bay is the nearest airport to northern KwaZulu Natal, Durban's airport is pretty convenient as it's just north of the city right off the N2 highway. It's a 6+ hour drive (on the N2/N17) to JNB from St Lucia and the reserves I mentioned. Easy drive, but not pretty through some industrial areas unless you go inland on N3 which takes much longer.

    It's tough to drive to Mozambique to the beach from Swaziland or S Africa. Some issues with the roads and "road blocks", though most tourists have no problem. I'd just go to S Africa - the beaches are gorgeous. The drive is easy, all on main roads and highways and passport control is efficient.

    You could also head to Kruger for the week, but then you'd have to drive all the way through Swaziland for beach time. But it's the best game viewing in S Africa. You could also stay in a private reserve, if it's in your budget.

    Many thanks to your daughter for her good work. Have fun! Ask all the questions you wish - I'm happy to help (I was just there in May).

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    Thanks for the information. My daughter can't leave the country at this time so we need to plan things in Swaziland while we are with her. Then maybe we will head to the beach!

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    Unless her Swazi visa says she can't leave the country, the Peace Corps doesn't care where volunteers go on their breaks unless that's changed recently.

    Mbuluzi isn't in Hlane. It's in a fenced conservancy adjacent. I'm not quite sure how it works for doing guided or self drive game drives in Hlane and has no restaurant. I'd stay in Bhupesi, but not sure it has all the amenities. Although quite small, check out Mkhaya - it's Swaziland's refuge for endangered species and might be fun. I'm just not sure if any of Swazi's "Big Game Parks" have air conditioned accommodations and pools. In summer, I'd rent a high clearance vehicle, maybe even a 4x4 SUV for the Swazl parks.

    For more luxury and some activities, the Orion Pigg's Peak and the Royal Swazi/Lugogo Sun hotels have all the modern conveniences. It really depends on what your daughter wants to do.

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