The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) is a new and exciting destination for horse riders - with its diverse terrain, accommodation and Swazi culture, you'll be immersed in the real Africa.
With the diversity of terrain, experience, adventure and accommodation, the Swazi Culture & Scenery Trail is a real African trail unlike anything else currently available. The 10-day itinerary includes a 6-day horse safari trail riding combined with 3 days of non-riding safari, visiting all three of Eswatini’s Big Game Parks.
No two days are alike on this trail, with constantly changing habitats. From game-studded plains to mountains, commercial forests, rural communities, and spectacular highlands. Complete your trail by heading south to the bushveld for the vehicle-based safaris.
The first day of riding is spent at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary to enjoy the wildlife at close proximity and to help confirm the horse-rider partnerships. The following day will see riders head for the hills on the start of a 5-day circular trail for a true trailing experience.
Highlights include the infamous Nyonyane Mountain, exciting river crossings, trailing through one of the world’s largest commercial forests, traversing through rural Swazi Nation Land and their friendly communities, and climbing into the uninhabited mountains of Mlilwane North with never-ending views across South Africa, Eswatini and Mozambique. Riders will then begin their return home to Mlilwane’s Rest Camp along the Usushwana River on Day 6.
The accommodation aligns closely with the Big Game Parks diversity theme. Beehive huts on Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary; Forester’s Arms Country Hotel; rondavels on Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve’s unique Stone Camp, with three nights fully supported camping, making for fun nights in Eswatini! Camping includes bell-tents, stretchers, campfire catering, pit latrines and bucket showers.
Moving between the Big Game Parks reserves and taking in the scenic areas and local communities in between gives a wonderful overview of what the Kingdom offers, providing a holistic holiday and ensuring riders visit an entire country rather than a single destination. Few horse trails in Africa (if any!) can offer such variety and the opportunity to experience authentic African wildlife, scenery and culture all in one trip.
Guests must be adept riders, competent to handle horses both from the saddle and in-hand over river crossing and tricky paths. All guests must be fit for six full days in the saddle and the occasional walk on foot when necessary.
Day 1: Arrival day. If you are arriving on the shuttle from Johannesburg then you will be collected and transferred to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary to overnight in their rest camp. There will be time to meet the horses but there is no riding today, however there are a number of hiking trails if you wish to stretch your legs.
Day 2: After breakfast you'll set off on your first ride on the reserve with hopefully plenty of game viewing whilst you get to know your mount. Along the water course there are hippo, crocodile, fish eagles and many water birds. On the plains you could spot wildebeest, zebra, nyala, roan antelope, blesbok and impala. Return for lunch at the Hippo Haunt restaurant and then set out on an afternoon ride. Return to the rest camp for dinner and to overnight. The local warthogs often provide the entertainment around camp!
Day 3: Today you set off on your trail on horseback. You'll ride for c. 4 hours until reaching Mlilwane North Klipspringer camp. The afternoon is free to relax in camp and enjoy the bush. Dinner and overnight camping.
Day 4: Breakfast in camp and then set off on a full days ride through commercial pine plantations, stopping for a saddlebag lunch along the way. Eventually you'll reach the Forester's Arms hotel where you'll have dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Another full day of riding through commercial pine plantations. Today you'll have to dismount for a short scramble before remounting to ride through a rural Swazi community and back onto Mlilwane North. Another saddle bag lunch before reaching your new camp at EmaSomini for dinner.
Day 6: Today is split into morning and afternoon rides as you explore the mountains, returning to camp for lunch and dinner. Second night at EmaSomini camp.
Day 7: Another long ride back to Mlilwane Rest Camp, aiming to arrive in time for lunch. In the afternoon you are transferred to Hlane, arriving at c. 4.30pm. Dinner and accommodation in Ndlovu camp.
Day 8: An early breakfast before heading out on a game drive in search of elephant, white rhino, lion and giraffe. There are also a high number of tree-nesting vultures recorded in this area. Return to camp for lunch. In the afternoon you take another game drive whilst transferring to Mkhaya and Stone Camp for dinner. Mkhaya is Eswatini's Refuge for Endangered Species and here you may spot white and black rhino, giraffe, tsessebe, sable antelope and buffalo. You may also be lucky enough to spot the bush-babies around camp.
Day 9: A sunrise game drive at approximately 6am before breakfast and then a game walk through the park before lunch. The game walk is part of the Mkhaya experience, where you can learn more about the signs of the wild. Another game drive is scheduled for the afternoon. Second night at Stone Camp.
Day 10: An early breakfast and transfer to meet the shuttle back to Johannesburg airport.