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eSwatini (the Kingdom of Swaziland) is known for its rich culture, warm people and varied scenery. From the historical Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, this unique trail takes you across plains and up into the scenic western mountains. As you ride you pass through rural Swazi communities. During ascents, the riding is slow, but the pace is varied and there are opportunities for faster riding each day.
The Swazi Culture & Scenery Trail is a 9 night itinerary highlighting the diversity of scenery Eswatini is famous for. After the riding trail you head to Hlane, where there is the opportunity to see lion and elephant from the safety of a safari vehicle. Then you go to the lowveld of Mkhaya Game Reserve, home to both black and white rhino. The reserves you visit have completely different habitats; Mlilwane is mountains and grassland whilst Mkhaya is typical lowveld thorn veld, so an amazing combination.
It is also possible to have shorter stays at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
Due to the steep terrain much of the riding will be slow, but there are also plenty of opportunities for good canters. There are some steep ascents and descents and on which you may have to dismount and walk. You should be fit enough for up to six hours in the saddle and able to sit encounters with local livestock and dogs.
The horses are mainly Warmblood crosses with Boerperd and Arab, but also include Friesian, Clydesdale and Percheron crossbreeds. They range in height from 14.2hh to 16hh.
The saddles are Leon Liversage Enduro saddles, which are very comfortable for the long hours on the trail. All horses are ridden in snaffle bridles. The riding style is English.
There is a rider weight limit of 80 kgs (12st 7lb).
Hard hats are mandatory.
On the set departure 9 night trails you stay at the main Mlilwane Rest Camp for the first two nights. The rooms are styled on traditional beehive Swazi huts with the added benefit of en-suite bathrooms. On the trail, accommodation is in simple bush camps (three nights) and one night at a comfortable country hotel. The camping is in two man dome tents with bedrolls provided. There are warm water bush showers and eco-friendly long-drop toilets.
The efficient support crew prepare meals around the camp fire and transport your luggage between the overnight stops. Guests are welcome to help with camp chores and with looking after the horses.
After the riding you stay at Ndlovu Camp in Hlane (one night) and at Stone Camp in Mkhaya (two nights). Accommodation at both is very comfortable with en suite flush loos and showers. Please note there is no electricity at either Ndlovu Camp or at Stone Camp.
This ride needs a minimum group size of 6 guests to confirm. Additional dates may be possible for groups of six or more. It is also possible to have a shorter riding holiday based only at Mlilwane. Please ask for more information on this option.
INCLUDES Accommodation; meals; riding; game drives; park entrance fees and transfers between lodges in Swaziland.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT of $292.37 is charged until we find you a sharer. If you are willing to share a room (and we find you a sharer) but would like a single tent for the three nights camping then the supplement is reduced to $125.72.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips
NEAREST AIRPORT Johannesburg
TRANSFERS The transfer from Johannesburg to Mlilwane in Swaziland takes about four hours by road. Most people transfer from Johannesburg by shuttle bus which costs approximately $46.83 each way.
Your flight should arrive at Johannesburg airport by 08:00. This is so you will be in time to get the scheduled shuttle bus to eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) which departs Johannesburg at 09:00.
There is a later shuttle bus departing at 11:00, but this would mean that you would miss the afternoon ride and additional transfer costs may apply.
Return flights should depart Johannesburg after 20:00. The shuttle bus is expected to arrive back to Johannesburg airport by 16:00 but, since it is a four hour journey and includes a border crossing, delays are possible, hence us recommending your flight departs after 20:00.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Ezulwini Valley of central eSwatini, south of the city of Mbabane.
Along the western highlands eSwatini has a temperate climate. The eastern and southern lowveld areas of eSwatini are generally hot. eSwatini lies in a summer rainfall region.
The autumn months of March to May see the trees change to a beautiful colour, and towards the end of May it will get cooler. June to August is winter. Days are pleasantly warm, in the range 17 ºC to 25 ºC, ideal for riding.
Nights can be cold; in the mountains temperatures can drop sharply and frosts are not uncommon. Rain is unlikely in June and July, but possible in September.
September to November is spring. It’s a lovely time of year as the rains bring the first green grass and blossom on the trees.
The horses were in excellent condition and it was very evident that the welfare of the horses was paramount. The whole holiday far exceeded my expectations. I was perfectly teamed up with a horse that ensured I had the most wonderful 6 days of trail riding. Millpond was a perfect gentleman. All the information I required had been provided by email and in my holiday pack. Magical. A gem of a holiday, I will be returning.
Michelle ,CheshireOverall rating: 5/5
eSwatini has an amazing range of terrain and wildlife for such a small country. This is an ideal trip for anyone interested in an authentic safari with wilderness camping.