With splendid Stone Camp as your base, go on a guided walking safari in Mkhaya Game Reserve, Swaziland’s flagship park. By Cheryl-Samantha Owen

Mkhaya Game Reserve is Swaziland’s flagship reserve, known for its intimate encounters with four of the Big Five and as a refuge for endangered species, such as sable antelope and tsessebe. It was almost five in the evening as we traversed Mkhaya on foot and I did have a lighter skip to my step knowing lions have never been introduced here, so as to prevent predation on these valuable animals.

The walks or game drives in an open Land Rover normally start from the check in point, known as Mkhaya House, at 10:00 or 16:00, so you have more time to explore in the light.

That evening Stone Camp greeted us with a trail of paraffin lanterns and a crackling campfire. The stone and thatch cottages are semi-open; I had been warned not to leave anything on the stone wall around my room, as the hyenas have a penchant for chewing anything within reach. I fell asleep to the antics of bush babies in the room and hyenas singing their signature tune close by.

Ranger Bongani Mbatha is one of the leaders of the walking safaris at Mkhaya. Photo by Cheryl-Samantha Owen.

Ranger Bongani Mbatha is one of the leaders of the walking safaris at Mkhaya. Picture by Cheryl-Samantha Owen

Mkhaya is staffed and patrolled entirely by Swazis from neighbouring communities and currently boasts what is arguably Africa’s most effective anti-poaching unit. It is totally self-financing through visitor revenues.

A recent recipient of the AA’s ‘Travellers Value Award for Top-End Leisure Travellers’, Mkhaya offers fully-catered bush trails for groups of four to six from 1 April to 30 September. No children under 13. Stay at Stone Camp and also enjoy guided drives or opt for a more basic bush trail and stay at the rustic fly camp, Jubela’s Camp. One-night stays also available.

Bookings: www.biggameparks.org or +268 2528 3943/4