Eswatini is ideal for walking safaris as there are many reserves where you can walk amongst wildlife, either on self guided trails or with a guide. The reserves have few visitors which gives you a sense of adventure and allows you to truly connect with nature. Quite often these reserves have wildlife wandering around the camps so it is not unusual to wake up to a row of warthog hoglets sleeping outside your door, a zebra looking in your window or a nyala watching you as you eat breakfast. The birdlife is fantastic, and as you walk through the reserves the magical sounds of trilling birds in the trees and vibrant blue sky is restoration for the soul.
The Kingdom of Eswatini is a small country and is often referred to as “Africa in a nutshell” as it has a little bit of everything that Africa has got to offer. There is varied scenery ranging from mountains to savanna, wildlife from the Big 5 to a host of smaller game and it is where culture is woven into everyday life. Eswatini is a little-known kingdom with a very big heart. A warm welcome awaits you.
Despite its size Eswatini has numerous places where you can explore on foot. At many locations in Eswatini you are actively encouraged to get out on the trails, with a guide or even just with a map to following well marked trails. The choice is yours.
Hiking in Malolotja
One of the best places in Eswatini for serious hikers is Malolotja, the scenery is astounding and you will probably find that you are the only one there. Malolotja is a magical place of rolling mountains as far as the eye can see – if you saw a dragon pop up from behind one of these distant mountains, you wouldn’t be too surprised. There is a Tolkien-esque feel to the area. When walking here make sure you have a warm fleece as it I can get cold in winter when you stop to marvel at the views. For day hikes there are limited trails but the dirt road system is good and we recommend you follow them.
2. Climbing Sibebe Rock
After Malolotja there is Sibebe Rock, the largest exposed granite pluton in the world. Although different in their geology, Sibebe is second only to Ayers Rock in Australia as the largest freestanding rock in the world. The best view of Sibebe is experienced climbing up it. There are several hiking trails to the top and altitude climb is 800m. It takes on average 2.5hrs to ascend and 1.5hrs for descent. This is a great day hike.
You can get a guide from the Sibebe Rock trail head or you can get in touch with Vaya Trails – their guides are really knowledgeable and a healthy lunch is included.
3. Walking with wildlife in Mlilwane
Mlilwane Nature Sanctuary is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with its well marked walking trails that are easily followed you can really get away from everything. Wildlife here has grown accustomed to people walking nearby and this makes discovering Africa an absolute pleasure. Join a walking safari in Eswatini amongst a “dazzle” of zebra, a herd of wildebeest and a host of antelope. Listen to the plethora of birds in the bush and watch the crocodile sleeping by the dam. Seeing wildlife on foot has never been so exhilarating in such a safe and secure environment. There are no Big Five here; you can either be guided or get a map from the souvenir shop and explore at our own pace.
4. Tracking giraffe in Mbuluzi
In the lowveld is Mbuluzi Game Reserve. This has some of the best cut walking trails in the area and also the less challenging with the terrain. Mbuluzi has a large population of giraffe, so it is an absolute joy walking with a “journey” of giraffe and watching these incredible beasts on foot. Not many people visit Mbuluzi so on your walking safari you will often see no one else at all for the day. The guides at reception are very helpful and can provide you with a map of the area so you can orientate yourself. It is possible to self-drive around the reserve but make sure you have good clearance on your vehicle and ask at reception which roads are navigable in the car you have. You can simply hop out of your vehicle when you want to as well. Mbuluzi is an absolute gem.
Who can say that they have walked with giraffe before? Don’t forget your camera to capture this memory.
5. Walking safaris with rhino in Hlane
Hlane Royal National Park has lion, white and black rhino and also elephant. The Kingdom is famous for its rhino conservation and if you do not see a rhino in either Hlane or Mkhaya then you probably have had your eyes closed for the duration!
Walking Safaris in Eswatini amongst big game is possible in Hlane, in the rhino section near Ndlovu Waterhole. You have to be guided here and the Rhino Drive, which often turns into a walk, can be booked at reception. Here you will have the most incredible heart stopping experience where there is the chance that you get so close to rhino that you can smell them. Anyone who has been to Eswatini and been on the Rhino Drive will probably say it was one of the most memorable walking safari experiences they had when in Eswatini.
There is also an overnight hike at Hlane, again fully guided. Walk through the bush and sleep out under the stars at your own exclusive camp in the bush. Dine out under the stars around the bushfire and go to sleep to the gentle honking of hippos.
6. Bush walking safari in Mkhaya
Mkhaya has two of the Big 5, black and white rhino and buffalo. The great thing is that during your stay you can do a walking safari here, often amongst rhino. The walking safari here is only available for those who stay for a full day, so for 2 nights. We recommend you stay for two nights for the walking safari and to stay two wonderful nights at soporific Stone Camp. The walks here are with expert guides and you learn about the smaller animals of the ecosystem, cultural uses of different plants and more about birds. It is an insightful activity.
7. Phophonyane nature trails
If you stay at Phophonyane there are a myriad of nature trails around the property, ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in nature. The wildlife here focusses on birds and plant life although there is a fair amount of small game, the most common being red duiker and bushbuck. However, these animals are shy and will only be seen if approached silently.
8. Hike up Sheba’s Breasts
Sheba’s Breasts are two peaks on one side of Ezulwini Valley. The rock formations are named after the legendary beauty and mysterious Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia, who supposedly seduced King Solomon. The are two access points to start this walk in Eswatini, one from Mantenga Nature Reserve and the other near All Out’s offices. The views take your breath away and it is worth the hike.
Fall in love with this small yet genuine Kingdom on a walking safari. Discover a different Africa whilst on foot.
Alternatively you can go on walking safaris in Namibia and Botswana or even in Zimbabwe. Ask us about the type of trails that are on offer.