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Stone Camp in Mkhaya Game Reserve

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Phuzamoya, Mkhaya Game Reserve Eswatini (Swaziland)
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Prices above are provided by partners for one room, with variable occupancy rules as provided by the property, and do not include all taxes and fees. Please see our partners for full details.
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Room & Suite (63)
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#1 of 2 Speciality lodging in Mkhaya Game Reserve
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Phuzamoya, Mkhaya Game Reserve Eswatini (Swaziland)
Getting there
Matsapha Intl Airport43 kmSee all flights
King Mswati III Airport31 kmSee all flights
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235Reviews8Q+A21Room tips
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JasminaM270 wrote a review Feb 2020
Oslo, Norway54 contributions33 helpful votes
Considering Stone Camp in Mkhaya? Then consider reading this. I made an expensive mistake of being misled and believing this was some sort of rustic eco luxury (judging by the price and reviews) and booked this place for one night in February. Luckily only for one night, I should say. The place was described as most special and got so many recommendations that I considered it a must to visit in eSwatini. But what a disappointing rip-off it was! Where to start? The establishment has a strict rule of picking up guests at 10 AM or 4 PM at a designated place outside of the park. So far so good, one has to respect that. On the day of our arrival however, we had the bed luck of skies opening up and the worst thunderstorm I ever experienced in my life staring to wrack havoc a mere quarter before we were picked up at 4 PM. Rivers of water were flowing everywhere and lightnings literally striking meters from us in terrifying explosions. Of course, that’s not something the lodge can be blamed for, but… the guide from the lodge comes to pick us up in a completely open safari vehicle, waterfalls rushing through every gap on the car, crevices under the doors, canvas pockets on the back of the seats, trunk that was transformed into a water tank. He insists that we leave at 4 sharp, despite the raging tempest. The four of us, guests, suggest we wait a little until the downpour calms down a bit, but that’s out of question as it is against management’s instructions and those are obviously more important than minimum of comfort for the clients. We park our car and get some raincoats to cover, and off we go. My raincoat was leaking from every side and didn’t have a string to fasten around my face so the hood kept falling off, but the worst thing was sitting in a pool of water for the entire half an hour before we reached the camp. I was soaked like a swamp and was on the verge of crying, while one of my fellow travelers got terribly scared of the lightnings around us. Under those conditions, none of us four was interested in the game drive on the way to the camp, so with much effort we persuaded the guide to take us to the camp directly, though one stop he couldn’t be dissuaded from – the stop at the “farmhouse” to sign the indemnity form… Each one of us asked if we could not sign the indemnity in drier conditions at the camp, but that wasn’t the practice of the lodge, and at Stone camp, the rules seem to be written in stone…. En route, the jeep has to navigate about 5 different gates, each time stopping before a gate, someone goes out, opens, jeep moves through, stops, gate closes, you move till the next gate… Apart from being a tedious procedure, even under a heavy rain I kept thinking that the animals living there aren’t roaming freely after all, they were confined to different sections of the reserve like in enlarged zoo. At arrival, there was no-one at the (very) dark reception, no-one to greet or welcome us. Embarrassed, the guide took us to the cottages himself. Those at least were as expected. Alas, as everything is open and humid from rain, it wasn’t possible to get dry. In addition, another strict rule is that your luggage stays in your car before entering the reserve, and you are allowed to take only the basics for one night in a little bag. I didn’t pack another pair of trousers in that one, and the ones I had on me looked and felt as if I was swimming in them. At night, I got badly bitten by mosquitos under the net, and looking for them with a flickering faint oil lamp was doomed in start. Not to speak about the heat – and mind, this was during the rain. A couple that stayed there the night before said the previous night was unbearable, 40 degrees and no possibility to make yourself comfortable as you are in the open, of your own will. The next day, everyone was leaving earlier than planned, and it took a whole hour to check out 4 rooms. Again, the gloominess of the reception, slow and inefficient filling out of forms, manually of course as there is no electricity. Likewise, paying cards have to be copied manually… Endless. During all that time however, the manager never showed up to greet the guests and ask how we were, as the custom is at such lodges. His wife though was present at dinner the day before, which was a small plus. Summarizing the experience, it is an uncomfortable affair, with inefficient and uninspired service, mediocre food and no effort made by the management to stretch out and provide the feeling of being welcome and taken care of for the guests. They seem to be relying on the image and reputation to run the business for them. The rigidity of their rules seems also to be in conflict with the guests’ wellbeing. I don’t mind paying extra for something I fancy, but paying 3 or 4 times more than at comparable places is a waste. And for what? Even the landscape is completely undramatic, but yes, you get to sleep in the open (for better or worse), and you probably see the rhinos. The rest just didn’t work for me.
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Date of stay: February 2020
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tigres62 wrote a review Feb 2020
Boucherville, Canada156 contributions108 helpful votes
We travelled almost 3 weeks in South Africa / Swaziland. We selected this reserve for the experience (stone camp in the bush) + reviews about proximity with rhinos. Despite our (high) expectations, we were not disappointed a split second. What a thrilling experience ! At first sight, it is kind of strange since you are waiting for the ranger to pick you up in a small village in the middle of nowhere. You follow the ranger for a few miles where you leave your car in a parking. From there, the excursion / experience starts. A game drive on the way to the camp where we saw so many rhinos. We were so close to them that we could have touch them. Once at the camp, they take you to your room, a stone camp that I would qualify luxury camping in the bush. Dinner is served around the fire with traditional swazi dances to conclude the evening. We selected a 24 hour stay with 2 game drives. In retrospective, we wish we would have selected a longer stay. If you want to live the 'real bush stay', we high recommend staying at Mkhaya Game Reserve. On top of it, this game reserve is significantly cheaper than similar reserves in South Africa.
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Date of stay: November 2019
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trutpert2017 wrote a review Feb 2020
Stuttgart, Germany43 contributions31 helpful votes
We were picked up and let the car on a secure parking place, the game park is very nice, our driver was a real professional – in driving and game matters. The stone camp is just lovely, spacious huts with open walls, the beds with very good mosquite nettings so we had no problem at all, cerosine lamps, only two battery-driven electric ones, like Tarzan in Jungle..! Toilet, shower, washing all open air, great experience. The restauration was very professional, very good food, three times a day is close to too much, but of course you go..! Service great, 6-8 lovely and professional waitresses, in the evening the wore traditional clothes and sang and dance their cultural thing, the dance is comparable to the French Can Can, legs up in the air, as we guests were also asked to join, lot of fun. The three game drives and walks a day were gorgeous, later in our journey my wife and me both regreted not to stay days longer. Best station on our trip, would love to come again.
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Date of stay: January 2020
1 Helpful vote
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Dennis P wrote a review Oct 2019
Montrose, United Kingdom29114 contributions469 helpful votes
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What a great experience this was when our small group arrived with our Ranger Mark. We had an enjoyable evening sitting around the fire and drinking and talking and laughing about our experiences of the last few days. Unfortunately my photos of that night did not turn out but thankfully the following day was recorded on our game drives.
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Date of stay: March 2019
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SarahD wrote a review Jun 2019
Teignmouth, United Kingdom102 contributions114 helpful votes
We stayed here for 2 nights and although on arrival I was a little apprehensive about the open sided stone cottages, by the time it came to leave I didn't want to go! We arrived at the 'pick up' point behind the shop as instructed for a prompt 10am collection but when no one had arrived by 10.15am I rang the telephone number provided only to find that it was a reservation department and they could only radio in to the camp. We needn't have worried as our Ranger, Richard arrived on his Yamaha 10 minutes later and we were off being led to a building where we popped into the loo, had a quick drink and then left our hire car behind and started our first game drive on the back of the open Landrover. We immediately spotted rhino, impala, kudo and hippo plus the biggest crocodile I have ever seen sunning himself on the banks! It was magical and it was about to become even more magical when we arrived at our camp to find impala wandering freely through the camp! Our open sided stone cottage (no.2.) was a short walk along a sandy path from the main camp and although I had some concerns about the 'openness' of it, this just added to the magic of the place. We were there in June so their Winter and although it was freezing at night time, our lovely hot water bottles kept us nice and cosy. We had to be very organised though as it was dark by 6pm and although we had some calor gas/paraffin lamps and a couple of solar lamps on the walls of the cottage (no electricity here!), it was still hard to see things so make sure you have all of your belongings ready for the early start in the morning for the game drive which starts at 6.15am. Having said this, you also need to be aware that monkeys are all around and do have a habit of trying to get into your stone cottage so don't leave anything just lying around - luckily the camp had a safe (although we couldn't get ours to work!) so used the wooden blanket box to store our things in. It's worth mentioning here that you can't really drag your suitcase into the camp as there's no room so make sure you take a rucksack for what you need for the length of your stay. The game drives were excellent, our Ranger, Africa a likeable guide with a good sense of humour. Don't go here expecting to see the Big 5 - you won't - there are no elephant or lion here but it didn't matter, we had plenty of sightings of rhino (very special), hippo, crocs, zebra and giraffe and the fact we got so close to many of them was wonderful. We stayed here for 2 nights and found the food to be tasty and plentiful, infact the portion sizes were huge and I felt bad not being able to eat everything served up. They also have a decent wine list too and not bad prices considering their location. The staff are delightful, always smiling and happy. So, to sum up - we've been to more luxurious game reserves and seen more wildlife but what it lacked in those departments, it certainly made up for in atmosphere and uniqueness!
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Date of stay: June 2019
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Trip type: Travelled as a couple
5 Helpful votes
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PRICE RANGE
US$318 - US$393 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
LOCATION
Eswatini (Swaziland)Lubombo DistrictMkhaya Game Reserve
NUMBER OF ROOMS
12
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Frequently Asked Questions about Stone Camp in Mkhaya Game Reserve
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Guests can enjoy a lounge during their stay.