At Sondzela Backpackers in Swaziland, you can enjoy tolerant game in one of the most scenic hostel settings in Southern Africa. All you need are a few days, a tank of fuel and as little as R95pp per night. Story and picture by Katie McCarthy

Sondzela Backpackers is located within the southern boundary of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kingdom’s pioneer game reserve in the heart of Swaziland’s main tourist hub. Just four hours from Johannesburg, it is the perfect Swazi base, with 24hr gate access to ritzy Ezulwini ‘Valley of Heavens’ and beyond, plus excellent value accommodation and activities.

Sondzela overlooks the beautiful Mhlambanyatsi Valley where wild animals roam and impala, zebra and warthog graze on the edge of its gardens. Guests are treated to remarkably tolerant game by foot, mountain bike or car in the birthplace of Swazi nature conservation.

You might expect its reputation as the ‘Wildest Backpackers in Swaziland’ to refer to the odd traveller who’s had one too many at its Hog ’n Wart Bar, but while you should at least sample the local Sibebe Brew, it’s the wildlife itself and the freedom to experience it unguided, which steals the show and provides a sense of solitude.

It’s easy to plan your next day’s adventure around the campfire, over a bubbling pot of stew. Sondzela means ‘come closer’ in siSwati and if you heed its call, you’ll be rewarded with all the magic of Africa at backpacker rates.

A microcosm of Africa, Swaziland has breathtaking landscapes, incredible wildlife and a vibrant, living culture. This sensory feast is concentrated in just over 17,000km² and easily accessible, meaning your pockets needn’t be pinched nor your leave allowance exhausted for an unforgettable breakaway.

Bookings: [email protected] or +268 2528 3943/4