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The Kingdom of Eswatini

BLOG: 30 Hiking Destinations in Eswatini in 12 months Challenge

In this blog by Thabiso Nxumalo, who recently accomplished the Sheba’s Breast Hiking Trail, we learn all about his personal goal of hiking 30 destinations in Eswatini in 12 months. A fantastic challenge to showcase the country’s many hiking trails and outdoor wonders.

The challenge

To me hiking has become a lifestyle more than just an adventure, exploring the beautiful scenery of Eswatini is one thing I always wished to do for years. Well, the cool breeze one feels at the peak of the mountain, the sound of the birds, majestic river flow are the key things that make one connect with mother nature very well.  I finally accepted the challenge for this year, which is 30 hiking destinations in Eswatini in 12 months. In January, I conquered Sheba’s Breast which starts at Lidwala lodge, and is also accessible from Mantenga Nature Reserve, although it wasn’t my first time there, but trust me if you want a challenge try it out.

Thabiso on top of Sheba’s Breast mountain.

Adrenaline rush

The journey starts off with a gentle to a steep mountain hike. The fact that one cannot literally see the destination made me want to continue. Only birds, water streams, and monkeys were the only sounds that I could hear in the woods. The dense tropical-like forest made it easy for me to reach the peak on a hot 32 degrees Celsius day. I thought I had mastered the full trail since it wasn’t my first-time hiking Sheba’s Breast but guess what?

Sheba’s Breast peak (1,171m), The iconic peak of King Solomon’s Mines fame just south of the Ezuwlini valley.

As I trailed up, my muscles were screaming for mercy, I sought shade and I leaned against a rugged bark, questioning myself: is it worth it? Should I just forget about the challenge?  Sometimes the pain we endure when hiking dissuade us, but the rewards of hiking are too great.

Well, I made it to the peak and one of the timeless and breathtaking experiences is getting to the top, the view amazingly stretches from Malagwane hill, Mdzimba mountain, down to Matsapha and going around Malkerns then back to Ezulwini.

Breathtaking views from the Sheba’s Breast peak

One gets to admire and appreciate the diverse landscape of the country within a small radius or buffer like this one. Waking up to such scenery would be best, right? Yeah, that’s why I’m thinking of relocating to the mountains and being away from COVID-19, for just one year.

Sheba’s Breast peak provides the best view of Mdzimba mountain

So far, my sandals haven’t failed me even on the rocky part of the mountain. I was able to complete the hike in 1:38:28 (currently my best) excluding stops or rests. A bottle of water and some fruits fuelled me as I climbed up. There is nothing more disturbing than seeing waste in the mountains, I made sure to return with what I came with and not leave anything behind. I wish people could be more conscious and learn that the disposal of waste is not and has never been good for the environment.

Written by Thabiso Nxumalo for Lidwala Lodge