Swaziland is a tiny, landlocked African country, bordered by Mozambique to the east and South Africa to the north, west and south. This tiny gem is well worth a visit if you’re in SA, as it’s only a four-hour drive from Johannesburg to beautiful Malolotja Nature Reserve, where we spent a day hiking.
After saying a sad goodbye to our reliable truck Bucky and picking up a regular old car we spent a few days in Johannesburg, mentally preparing ourselves for the next three big hikes and stocking up on much-needed equipment, like a down sleeping bag because I was not at all ready for winter hiking in the mountains.
To try and get back into shape (there was a lot of wine and ice cream in between the Fish River Canyon hike and now) we decided to cross the border into Swaziland for a few days in the Malolotja Nature Reserve. It was the easiest border crossing yet! No questions asked, just stamped in and out of each country without a hitch.
It was a quick and easy drive to the park. We checked in and drove through rolling green hills to the lovely little campsite where you’ll find individual plots, brai pits and bathrooms with hot water. No electricity so make sure you have a head torch. And don’t leave food out at night, it will get eaten by mysterious animals but whatever, didn’t want that steak anyway.
There are many hiking options in the park, the main office can give you a map and any information regarding trails. You can also go off-roading if you have your own 4×4 (we were really missing Bucky at this point) and you can even go on a Treetop Canopy Tour! This was not something I was interested in after being a treetop guide for two summers, but it looks fun.
We chose a short loop that took us across rolling green hills, past waterfalls and through forest filled valleys. We parked the car at the end of the trail where you’ll find a bench overlooking the valley below. You can follow the trail down along the river before climbing up to the ridge. From here you’ll see another valley and a waterfall far below you to the left.
If you follow the steep path to the right, ignoring the signs for the campsite unless you’re camping there for the night, then you’ll eventually come across the big waterfall, I’m not sure what its name is but it’s pretty majestic. You could swim in the pool at the top if you’re brave enough! You can follow the trail back up the hill to the top of the ridge, overlooking the valley where you started, and you can follow the river uphill back to the car.
The park has over 200km of hiking trails and 17 campsites to choose from, depending on how much time you have here. You’ll find plenty of wildlife such as antelope, zebra, eland and wildebeest. No big cats, so you don’t have to stress about that while you hike.
I wish we could have spent more time here, and in Swaziland in general! It looks like a beautiful country that deserves more attention from travellers.
You can view the full album here.