The Kingdom of Swaziland Explored


The Kingdom of Swaziland Explored

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Swaziland

You will be met on arrival at King Mswati III airport in Swaziland and take the one hour transfer to Mlilwane. On arrival there is the chance to stretch your legs and walk in the reserve and see wildlife on foot. The walk can be as long or as short as you want as there are a number of trails in different aspects of the reserve. This is dependent on your arrival time. This evening we have a group evening meal and welcome as you start your amazing holiday in Swaziland. Overnight at Milwane Rest Camp – Beehive Huts or similar (D) 

Day 2 – Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

This morning there is a gentle walk through the reserve on the Hippo Trail. This is a trail around the main hippo pool and the central plains. Be prepared to see wildlife on foot including wildebeest, impala and zebra. Keep an eye out for the hippo in the main dam. This is a gentle stroll with lots of options to cut short or lengthen. It will be a slow walk as we will be stopping to see wildlife all the time. There is also time to learn about the reserve and visit the education boards dotted around the camp. In the afternoon we will visit Mantenga’s traditional village where you can learn about the Swazi culture and how a traditional village is set out. Local villagers will show you around, explaining the roles of the chief and his wives, their sons and daughters and the traditional healer, also called the sangoma. Overnight at Milwane Rest Camp – Beehive Huts or similar (BLD)

Day 3 – Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Another gentle morning walk to take in this beautiful reserve and some leisure time to try the optional activities of riding through the reserve or even cycling gently around the reserve. Later this afternoon we will go on a game drive finishing with sundowners. Overnight at Milwane Rest Camp - Beehive Huts or similar (BLD)

Day 4 – Local Life

Today we will visit a number of unique Swaziland attractions and experiences. First stop is the Umphakatsi, the local chief near to Mlilwane, and learn about local life in Swaziland. We then visit Gone Rural to learn about the story of how women are being empowered in Swaziland through weaving. Visit behind the scenes and see this in action. Over lunch we will visit Swazi Candles where there is time to watch candles being hand sculpted into colourful animal shapes of lion, elephant and other Swazi wildlife. Overnight at Foresters Arms or similar (BLD)

Day 5 – Malolotja

Today we visit Malolotja. Malolotja Nature Reserve which is one of the most impressive mountain parks in Southern Africa and is the largest protected area in the Kingdom. The spectacular scenery and the variety of fauna and flora make it a prime Highveld conservation area. The views in Malolotja are stunning. Here we will visit some spectacular view points and there is the chance to take a gentle walk in the reserve. After lunch we will then drive further north to Maguga dam. The scenic road that leads to the dam also hosts a community-initiated viewsite that provides fantastic views over the vast expanse of water. Overnight at Foresters Arms or similar (BLD)

Day 6 - Ngwenya Mine

Today we will visit Ngwenya mine which is the oldest mine in the world. Man first began mining iron ore here over 43,000 years ago. We will join a guided tour into the Lion Cavern, the oldest part of this mine. The walk up to the cavern is quite steep yet well-maintained with stepped walkways over rocky sections. Afterwards there is the chance to visit Ngwenya glass factory to see recycled glass being created into glass sculptures. Overnight at Foresters Arms or similar (BLD)

Day 7 - Mkhaya Game Reserve

Today we travel to Mkhaya Game Reserve, named after the Acacia nigrescens tree. The reserve comprises of acacia dominated thornveld in the south and broadleaf sandveld in the north. Unique, intimate encounters with Mkhaya’s wildlife are exceptional and all travel within the reserve is by open Land Rovers or on foot. The reserve is criss-crossed with dry riverbeds, dotted with waterholes and has a network of intertwined game-viewing roads. Mkhaya currently supports three of the Big Five; with leopard, buffalo and rhino being present on the reserve. You should be able to see rhino up close and personal. A host of other game such as giraffe, hippo, crocodile, roan and sable antelope, tsessebe, eland, kudu, ostrich and vervet monkey are also seen regularly. The birdlife is also abundant and the rare Narina Trogan can sometimes be seen in camp along with the more common species such as the crested guinea fowl. Mkhaya was set up as a breeding program for endangered species such as the black rhino, roan and sable - a sighting of the elusive black rhino is normally very high up most visitors list, so keep your eyes peeled on those game drives. During your stay there will be game drives in the early morning before breakfast and also in the late afternoon. After breakfast there is often the opportunity to go on a walking safari where you can learn how to track wildlife. During the rest of the day there is the chance to sit at Kirky Hide to see what comes into drink, you never know what to expect! Overnight at Stone Camp or similar (BLD) 

Day 8 - Mkhaya Game Reserve

A full day to enjoy the Mkhaya Game Reserve. Mkhaya is staffed and patrolled entirely by Swazis from neighbouring communities and has what is arguably Africa's most effective anti-poaching unit. The reserve is totally self-financing through visitor revenues. Overnight at Stone Camp or similar (BLD)

Day 9 - Hlane Royal National Park

On the way to Hlane we will visit a local church and you have the opportunity to witness a service. In the afternoon we will go on a sun downer safari to see elephant, rhino and lion, so have your cameras ready. Overnight at Ndlovu Camp or similar (BLD) 

Day 10 – Mbuluzi Game Reserve

Near to Hlane is Mbuluzi Game Reserve which encompasses some of Swaziland's most pristine bush-veld with a variety of landscapes and excellent biodiversity. Here there are many kilometres of well marked

and maintained trails offering short strolls to explore the area at your own time and pace. Common species include zebra, kudu, impala and warthog although the main attraction is the giraffe as it is possible to walk within these herds without disturbing them, a unique way to see giraffe. We will spend the morning here exploring the bush. Return to Hlane for lunch and later in the afternoon we take a rhino drive to see these wonderful animals up close and maybe even on foot. Overnight at Ndlovu Camp or similar (BLD)

Day 11 – Shewula Mountain Camp

Up early for a morning safari to make sure that we get to see the lion and elephants. We then visit Shewula Mountain Camp which is the first community eco-tourism project in Swaziland and one of the most successful in the whole of southern Africa. The camp is fully owned and run by the community, meaning that all profits are shared by the community in an effort to continually develop and improve this traditionally impoverished area. Arrive in time for an educational walk amongst the community where you will learn about life in Shewula and be shown into people’s homes. The Shewula community is a friendly agricultural people, with traditional thatch and stone houses dotted neatly among fields of maize cotton and vegetables. They encourage visitors to their area to enjoy the incredible view, gain an insight into traditional Swazi lifestyles. Have lunch on the escarpment looking over the Lubumbo Conservancy and the view here is incredible. This is a traditional lunch cooked by the ladies of the camp and you can taste delicious, genuine Swazi food. Overnight at Ndlovu Camp or similar (BLD)

Day 12 – Depart Swaziland

You will be taken to the airport in time for your flight. As the airport is only 20 mins away, there may be time to have one last safari drive, depending on your flight times (B)

Post Tour Optional Extension 1 – Camp Shawu – Shishangeni Private Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

Day 12 – Travel to Kruger National Park – Shishangeni Private Game reserve

The transfer from Hlane to South Africa will take around 2 hours plus the border crossing transfer time. On arrival check in at Camp Shawu. (BLD)

Day 13 and 14 – Game Drives at Shishangeni Private Reserve

Enjoy 2 games drives each day at this reserve which encapsulates the spirit of Africa. In between relax on your balcony and watch the game come down to the river to drink. Overnights at Camp Shawu (BLD)

Day 15 – Transfer to Kruger Airport (Nelspruit)

Transfer to Kruger airport for your flight back to Johannesburg and onward to your next destination (B)

Post Tour Optional Extension 2 – Mozambique Machangulo Beach Lodge

Day 12 – Travel to Mozambique

The transfer from Swaziland to Maputo harbour is around 3 hours approximately with the land border crossing. We then take a boat ride of around 1 hour to the lodge. Overnights at Machangulo Lodge (BLD)

Days 13 and 14 – At leisure at Machangulo Lodge

Either spend your time relaxing or you can book snorkelling trips to the nearby marine reserve. There are also possibilities to be taken to deserted beaches, go fishing or visit nearby villages where many of the staff are from. All optional activities are booked locally. (BLD)

Day 15 – Transfer to Maputo and depart Mozambique

Transfer by boat and vehicle back to Maputo where you depart for your onward flight (B)