6 DAYS SWAZILAND HIKING ADVENTURE
DAY 1: MALOLOTJA NATURE RESERVE
Today we venture into the mountainous highveld nature reserve of Malolotja. This nature reserve is known for its rolling hills and rugged mountains on the border with South Africa. We drive deep into the park and start the day with some adrenalin-fuelling fun; Zip-lining over a deep gorge.
After the zip-line we hike to a couple of viewpoints — one overlooking waterfalls, and one overlooking the park itself. The hike follows small paths through the reserve, and we might be lucky to spot some of the rare game in the area; the white-tailed gnu and the huge eland among others.
After a well-deserved lunch we leave Malolotja and continue past the great Maguga Dam — the main water reservoir for the highveld. Past Maguga Dam, hidden on a mountain slope, we make our way to see the ancient rock art painted by the Bushmen, who inhabited the area thousands of years ago. The intricate figures on the rocks tell stories of an era long gone by.
The last leg of today’s journey goes through gravel roads in the rural Swazi highveld, before we arrive at our lodge in Pine Valley.
Hike: Approx. 6-8 km in steep terrain.
DAY 2: SIBEBE ROCK
Swaziland’s largest coherent rock is called Sibebe Rock. Some argue that is the second largest freestanding rock in the world. Sibebe is said to contain mystical powers and whoever lives near it or on it will go crazy. However, we will defy the rumours and venture onto this impressive rock. The plateau on the top offers leisurely walks and great views over Pine Valley and towards the peaks of the East.
Along the paths we hike past boulders the size of mansions, caves, and streams of fresh water, while cows, wild horse, and other livestock roam alongside us. Towards the end of the hike we walk through one of the many communities found in remote parts of Swaziland. After the community there is only one last little climbs, before we will be rewarded with lunch in a beautiful setting.
After lunch we drive through the capital city of Swaziland, Mbabane, before heading down into the Ezulwini Valley on the other side. Here we find our very special accommodation for the night.
Hike: Approx. 14 km in mixed terrain (there are a few very steep parts, but most of the hike is easy going)
DAY 3: EXECUTION ROCK IN MLILWANE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Today we wake up with the sun peeping through the vegetation in front of the cave. Steaming hot tea and coffee is served, while breakfast is being cooked on the fire.
After breakfast we head out into the reserve. Mlilwane is teeming with wildlife: Zebras, curious wildebeests, dainty impalas, and many more. As we walk, we often get quite close to the animals, which offer great photographic opportunities. (We never disturb the animals unnecessarily and we respect their comfort zones at all times).
During the day we climb the Rock of Execution — a distinct peak in the area with a gruesome history.
The afternoon can be spent either at the lovely Reilly’s Rock Lodge, where we will be staying tonight, or at Mantenga Cultural Village, where Swazi singers and dancers perform an impressive repertoire.
Hike: Approx. 12 km in hills (partly challenging).
DAY 4: CULTURAL TOUR AND HLANE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast with a view over the Ezulwini Valley — also known as the Valley of Heaven — we head to the urban village of Lobamba, which is also known as the cultural capital of Swaziland. A local guide will take us on a walk through the community and tell us about life in a urban village of Swaziland. History, local culture, and world influence will be visible on this informative tour.
After the village tour we take off towards the lowveld of Swaziland. We drive through the second largest city in Swaziland, Manzini. Here we stop to take a short walk through the local market place, where anything from traditional medicine, to fabrics, to vegetables, and tractor tyres are sold.
Before lunch we arrive at Hlane Royal National Park, where we will enjoy lunch by the waterhole, where hippos and rhinos are often spotted. After lunch we walk through the park to a secret spot, where we will spend the night under the stars. Dinner cooked on the fire, along with drinks and long days’ many impressions, we relax in the bush camp.
Hike: Approx. 15 km in flat terrain.
DAY 5: HLANE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK AND SHEWULA COMMUNITY
Once again, we wake up with the sun. A beautiful breakfast is cooked for us on the fire, as we sit and enjoy our morning coffee.
We meander through the reserve back to camp, before we head up into the Lubombo Mountains for the afternoon. The Lubombo Mountains form the boundary with Mozambique, and on a clear day you are able to see the capital Maputo, as well as the sea from the top.
On top of the Lubombos we find the charming rural community of Shewula. As we arrive the ladies of Shewula Camp has prepared a lovely local lunch for us.
After lunch a local guide will take us in a tour of the community. Often we are invited into homesteads, where the local women brew beer, which we get to taste. Sometimes we meet the old medicine woman or Sangoma as they are also called, who uses herbs, potions, and powers to cure any kinds of ailments. Sometimes we meet the old warrior, who enjoys showing us all his traditional regalia. Other times we meet the schoolkids playing or the women fetching water from the common well. There is never a dull moment at Shewula.
After Shewula we drive back to Hlane, where we will have dinner by the central waterhole. Look out for elephants and rhinos or listen to the roaring lions, before heading to bed.
Hike: Approx. 13 km combined in flat terrain.
DAY 6: MLAWULA NATURE RESERVE
After breakfast by the waterhole we head to a stunning and little known lowveld nature reserve called Mlawula. Here trails criss-cross the reserve and showcase some of the best kept secrets of this beautiful place. We hike through the reserve and take many breaks to enjoy the views and the nature around us. We finish the hike at a cave overlooking the central Siphiso Valley. We enjoy a picnic lunch before we are picked up by a game drive vehicle that will take us to a lodge overlooking the lowveld, where we will enjoy drinks and dinner, before taking a night-drive back through the reserve to our comfortable tented camp.
Hike: Approx. 13 km in mixed terrain (some parts are a bit steep)