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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Malolotja Nature Reserve

Malolotja is one of the very best highland reserves in southern Africa, its 18,000ha wilderness of high rolling hills and deep forested river gorges offering a genuine wilderness in which hikers can lose themselves for days. The Malolotja river rises in the reserve, plunging over the 95m Malolotja Falls on its way to the Nkomati river, which cuts east towards the Indian Ocean. The rocks beneath Malolotja are among the oldest in the world – some, known as the Swaziland Supergroup, having being laid down as ocean sediment over 3.5 billion years ago, before metamorphosing under heat and pressure into the shales and quartzites we see today. The reserve entrance is just a 30-minute drive from either Mbabane or Piggs Peak. Visitors can stay at the campsite or in self-catering log cabins. Alternatively they can stay in traditional beehive chalets – complete with modern interiors – at nearby Hawane resort, which runs activities into and around the reserve, including horse-riding. A small dam at Hawane is good for bird watching and fishing.

The Malolotja wildlife experience is more about quality than quantity. You won’t see as many species as on the lowveld reserves, but you might see one or two more unusual ones. Among the larger mammals are grazers such as blesbok, zebra, blue wildebeest and the rare black wildebeest. Smaller antelope include grey rhebok, mountain reedbuck and oribi. A few shy leopard roam the hills and gorges, while serval and aardwolf stalk the grasslands and baboons patrol the ridges. Look out for aardvark diggings and the scattered quills of porcupines. Malolotja has many treats for birders. The main drawcard is the endangered blue swallow. Other specials include Gurney’s sugarbird, ground woodpecker, Denham’s bustard and southern bald ibis – the last of these breeding on the cliffs above the falls. Malolotja is also home to localised reptiles, such as the Swazi thick-tailed rock gecko.

Fabulous displays of wild flowers thrive during the spring months (October & November), with lilies, orchids and red-hot pokers, while the valley floors support two threatened species of cycad.

Malolotja’s 200km of trails offer some of the finest hiking in southern Africa, from gentle morning walks to multi-day wilderness hikes. Malolotja’s climate is highly variable, and hikers should come prepared for all weather. A limited network of rough roads is not really designed for game viewing but serves to reach the trailheads. Mountain bikes can be hired at the entrance gate. For a more adrenaline-charged experience, the Malolotja Canopy Tour comprises a 50m suspension bridge and 11 wooden platforms ingeniously affixed to the steep sides of Silotshwane Gorge. Participants zip-line from platform to platform on a steel cable high above the forest canopy and Majolomba river.

While visiting Malolotja, don’t miss the stone-carver stalls near the entrance. Their products are among the best of their kind in Swaziland. Made mostly of soapstone, an easily workable local rock, their natural grey-green colour is enhanced by oiling or darkened with shoe polish.

Without doubt, Malolotja should be on the itinerary of every adventure-seeker or scenery-lover visiting southern Africa.

Activities in Malolotja Nature Reserve
Accommodation in or near Malolotja Nature Reserve
Umushi weNkosazane Resort and Spa
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Lodge set within picturesque setting of Malolotja
Hawane Resort
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Unique chalet accommodation with great food and activities
Malolotja Cabins
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Self Catering Cabins with panoramic views of Malolotja
Mbabane Lodge with delightful view of Nkoyoyo Mountains
Delightful guesthouse conveniently close to the capital city of Mbabane
Self catering apartments conveniently located in Mbabane.
Brand new state of the art hotel in the heart of Mbabane perfect for leisure and business travellers.
Small and intimate lodge set on Malagwane Hill with stunning surrounding views.
Sibebe Resort
Mbabane
Traditional African chalets set high upon the hills of Mbabane close to Sibebe Rock.
Luxurious cottages with self catering facilities surrounded by beautiful gardens.
The Place
Mbabane
Small guesthouse with all the amenities and facilities of home right by the capital.
Small and welcoming guest house in the rural town of Pigg's Peak.
Modern and peaceful lodge with stunning views across the Pine Valley.
Large hotel with luxury suites, conference facilities and an onsite casino.
Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge
Phophonyane Nature Reserve
Stunning rustic and alternative accommodation in a diverse and tropical nature reserve.
Beautifully presented hotel with unbeatable views of Ezulwini Valley.
Maguga Lodge
Maguga Dam
Tradtional rondavel chalets and campsite overlooking the exquisite Maguga Dam.
A 4 berth boat on Maguga Dam with self catering facilities you can hire!
Conveniently located guesthouse perfect for tourists and business travellers
Luxury Guest House with breathtaking views
Pleasent guest house close to the capital city
Esquisite guest house set in a beautiful garden.
Guest House with a fantastic view of Mbabane
Luxury Bed & Breakfast with supurb views
Places nearby
Experience glass-blowers as they create beautiful sculptures with recycled materials.
The oldest mine in the world.
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A private nature reserve home to the tumbling Phophonyane River and Falls.
Large settlement in the North West with Swaziland's most scenic handicraft outlet.
One of southern Africa's most impressive geological features.
The attractive capital of Eswatini with hotels, shopping centres and traditional markets.
Incredible art by the Sam people up to 4,000 years ago.
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Malolotja Nature Reserve