The last remaining monarchy in Africa, Swazlinad offers it's visitors a unique opportunity to spot black and white rhino in quieter Game reserves like Mkhaya.
PR Exectutive Olivia shares her highlights of our Kingdom of Swaziland trip.
I stood, frozen, listening to the grunting and rustling of a rhino from the other side of a thorn bush. We waited for what felt like an eternity for him to move along, oblivious to our presence just a few metres away. We were on a walking safari in Mkhaya Game Reserve, in the southeast of Swaziland accompanied by our Swazi guide who could identify every rhino in the protected area. As we walked through the long grasses, the silhouettes of the trees were emphasised by the pink hues of the setting sun.
That night, after joining in with the traditional Swazi dancing around the campfire, we made our way back to our stone walled rooms along the forest path. With no electricity, after dark the camp is lit by paraffin lanterns and each room is semi-open with half walls, meaning you can lie in bed listening to the wildlife around you. I was lulled to sleep to the sound of bush babies and hyena and rudely awoken to the sound of a frog ribbeting by the side of my bed. Thankfully you’re protected by a large mosquito net – and yes, I was definitely more concerned about the frog than the hyena.
After visiting a traditional herbalist (known as a Sangoma) in the mountain community of Shewula, we walked up to a viewpoint on the Lubombo ridge which offered 360 degree views over the surrounding mountains. In the distance we could see flecks of white on the horizon, “that’s the Maputo skyline in Mozambique” our guide told us. Arriving at our community run camp, we cracked open the Sibebe sundowners and watched the sun turn the sky from pink, to orange, to red. In the distance we could see the sugarcane fields being burnt for harvesting; long lines of flames burning against the surrounding darkness, slowly disappearing as the fires were extinguished.
We’d organised to go on a horseback safari in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary after breakfast. It’s true what they say, kids have no fear and I hadn’t ridden a horse since I was 11 years old - I was now absolutely terrified. “This is Annie. She’s very stubborn.” our guide informed me. “Ah, like me!” I thought to myself. Once I’d got used to Annie constantly eating every tree she could get close to and generally ignoring every command I gave her, I loved being able to get so close to warthog, wildebeest, zebra and impala. An afternoon safari took us to the top of Execution Rock, offering spectacular views over the Ezulwini Valley otherwise known as the Valley of Heaven. Here, we sat and soaked up the view and admired another beautiful sunset.