Trail Riding in the Kingdom of Eswatini

7 nights: From GBP £1065 per person sharing

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO DISCOVER ESWATINI’S SECRETS ON HORSEBACK

Eswatini is like an island without a coast and this is your chance to travel back in time to discover its secrets on an incredible horseback adventure.

Discover the Kingdom of Eswatini on horseback with Eswatini’s leading conservation organization.  The trail traverses Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and KaMsholo Reserve, commercial forests, wildlife-filled plains, rural community lands and wild mountains – it is a real African trail ride through constantly changing environments.

While mostly a scenery-focused ride, you’ll see a variety of incredible wildlife from the saddle including giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and numerous antelope species including rare roan and sable antelope. You might even spot some small crocodiles in the rivers and dam.

The trail includes long steep mountain climbs and descents, so good intermediate riding ability and fitness required for 4-6 hours in the saddle each day. The horses range from home-bred Warmblood-Arab-Boerperd crosses to the new cold-blood crosses introduced in recent years. They have been bred and selected for their amazing temperaments, comfortable gaits and athleticism. The guides are all Swazis, passionate about horses, their kingdom and introducing our guests to their world. The guides are all Swazis, passionate about horses, their kingdom and introducing our guests to their world. You will leave a ride here feeling wonderfully refreshed and in love with the nature and people of Eswatini.

Add-on: Option to add 2 nights at the beautiful Mkhaya Game Reserve to experience their wonderful and inspiring conservation efforts for preserving rhino and buffaloe populations in Eswatini.

DATES AND RATES

Open all year round. Please enquire for exact dates and availability.

2024 RATES

LODGE-BASED: 7-Nights - Mlilwane & KaMsholo

14 - 21 February 2024 / 08 - 15 March 2024 / 24 - 31 May 2024 / 17 - 24 September 2024 / 06 - 13 December 2024

ZAR R24430 / GBP £1065* per person sharing + ZAR 1450 / GBP 65* per person internal transfers

 

LODGE + SLEEP-OUT: 7-Nights - Mlilwane & KaMsholo

09 - 16 April 2024 / 02 - 09 May 2024 / 14 - 21 May 2024 / 12 – 19 June 2024 / 28 June - 05 July 2024 / 30 August - 06 September 2024

ZAR R25070 / GBP £1095* per person sharing + ZAR 1450 / GBP 65* per person internal transfers

 

*Rate may differ slightly due to currency fluctuations

 

RATE INCLUDES

All accommodation on a sharing basis; All meals; Expert guiding throughout; All Riding on well-trained and responsive horses; Game drives and walking safaris

 

RATE EXCLUDES

International Flights to Eswatini; Visas; Conservation fees (approximately GBP 27 per person), Comprehensive Travel & Medical Insurance; Drinks; Shop/Curio purchases; Gratuities for camp staff and guides; Items of a personal nature; Any extra activities

 

Optional Add-On: See Rhino + Buffalo at Mhkaya Game Reserve

2 Nights: Stone Camp: From GBP 320 per person sharing + GBP 80 per person transfers from Kamsholo to Mhkaya, then Mhkaya to Eswatini Airport

 

RATE INCLUDES

All accommodation on a sharing basis; All meals; Expert guiding throughout; 2 x Game drives and 2 x Walking safaris

 

RATE EXCLUDES

Drinks; Shop/Curio purchases; Gratuities for camp staff and guides; Items of a personal nature; Any extra activities

 

EXTRAS

TRANSFERS

Return Transfers between Eswatini Airport and Mlilwane: ZAR R2600 / GBP £115* per vehicle

INCLUDES & EXCLUDES

Includes

  • All accommodation on a sharing basis
  • All meals
  • Expert guiding throughout
  • All Riding on well-trained and responsive horses
  • Game drives and walking safaris

Excludes

  • International Flights to Eswatini
  • Visas
  • Comprehensive Travel & Medical Insurance
  • Drinks
  • Shop/Curio purchases
  • Gratuities for camp staff and guides
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Any extra activities

QUICK FACTS

Location: Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland)
Airport: Eswatini International Airport
Month: All Year Round
Duration: 7 / 9 Nights
Group Size: Max 8
Skill Level: Intermediate & Above
Weight Limit: 85kg / 187lbs
Accommodation: Simple Chalets / Camp
VIEW GALLERY
7 nights: From GBP £1065 per person sharing

SUITABLE RIDING LEVELS

  • Beginner
  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Intermediate Plus
  • Advanced
WHAT RIDING LEVEL AM I?

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Be immersed in the local culture while exploring mountains, bushveld and farmlands on horseback
  • Visit Eswatini’s leading conservation areas, gaining an insight into their inspiring history
  • Be guided by local Swazis – gentle, passionate, capable and competent horsemen
  • Stay in various accommodations including rustic off-grid lodges and fly-camps
  • Easily accessible and affordable, with the opportunity to also explore the nearby Kruger National Park, South Africa’s Wild Coast, or fly to Cape Town

TOUR REVIEWS

It was fantastic!
We had a WONDERFUL safari in Mlilwane Eswatini! We are so happy and felt that we had great value for money. We experienced so much and was sometimes beyond/outside our confort zone, but that made us grow as riders. The horses were GREAT – I especially fell in love with Tsawo, the Frieser I rode. Our guide that rode with us for four days, Natty – was absolutely fantastic. Eswatini is a new experience for us and we fell in love with the small, beautiful country. It's much more ”African” than South Africa, more traditional, safe and clean and people are very friendly. It's also one of the most beautiful countries I have visited.

Malin AbramsonThe Kingdom of Eswatini - Eswatini
READ MORE REVIEWS

SAMPLE ITINERARY

** Please note that this is a sample itinerary and is subject to change depending on weather, route conditions and wildlife viewing.

We have a 7-night trail which either includes 2 nights of sleeping out, or is completely lodge-based depending on the weather. There is the option to add on 2 further nights to Mkhaya Game Reserve to see both rhinos and buffaloes. See add-ons below.

DAY 1 - ARRIVAL & INTRODUCTORY RIDE

Arrive in the early afternoon. Enjoy your first evening game drive to meet the horses and guides. Saddle up and enjoy an easy paced ride in Africa’s golden hour, with a fun canter or two. Return to the rest camp for dinner in the Hippo Haunt Restaurant your first night in Mlilwane at the Mlilwane Rest Camp.

DAY 2 - MORNING & EVENING RIDES

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Hippo Haunt Restaurant.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary has four areas of undulating grass plains. Numerous dirt roads and a few bridle-tracks weave through the plains, providing plenty of fun trots and canter opportunities, with off-path riding for close wildlife sightings. The wildlife is very relaxed in the presence of the horses, making for incredible viewing.  These four plains are split by perennial rivers and streams, or the stunning Hippo Pool, and are flanked by rural community, private farmlands, commercial forestry and the Nyonyane Mountain.

All rides will have a good balance of walk, trot and canter (guests depending). Plains Rides get to see warthog, wildebeest, zebra, impala, nyala, and blesbuck. Kudu and crocodiles are often seen, with the endangered Roan Antelope being the special sighting of Mlilwane. You will ride past the rare and locally endangered antelope breeding area, where waterbuck, roan antelope, hartebeest, springbuck, suni and waterbuck can be seen, along with endangered blue crane and ground hornbills.

The 3 hour morning ride combines the southern and eastern plains, riding through the historical old open-cast Tin Mines.

Head back to the lodge for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon, the ride follows the Mhlambanyatsi River Valley with kudu and other antelope sightings being common. A fantastic single-track canter along the vlei is a firm favourite!

Overnight at Mlilwane Rest Camp.

DAY 3 - LODGE-BASED ITINERARY / SLEEP-OUT ITINERARY

LODGE-BASED ITINERARY: Breakfast at the Hippo Haunt Restaurant before departing for your 4 – 6 hour ride with picnic lunch.

Mlilwane’s Nyonyane Mountain (Execution Rock) marks the habitat transition zone between middleveld and highveld. You’ll explore the 4×4 tracks and the many hiking trails on horseback. The ride is a combination of  adventurous trails through rocky and forest sections, at times skirting the old mine shafts and following the old aqueducts which fed the mines a century ago. This small iconic mountain is deceptively steep and you might need to dismount and assist the horses with the climb. The pace is mostly slow on the mountain, and the red clay soils become close to impassable in wet weather, so these rides are weather dependent. The Rock of Execution may be supplemented for the Full Day Ride if necessary, depending on weather and ability.

Rock of Execution is a wonderful trail summiting Nyonyane Mountain, complete with impressive views of the Ezulwini, Mantenga and Malkerns Valleys below. The trail crosses the Central Plains, following game paths and cut trails to the saddle, where the horses are released in a small paddock. Riders then hike the last stretch to the summit to enjoy snack lunch with the ultimate 360 degree views.  After hiking the Summit, you will remount and drop down the northern slopes to the Usushwana River. The rides traverses ever changing habitats, rides along the old railways and takes a well-earned lunch break on the banks of the Usushwana.

The return ride follows the river east, along a forested road with a few canter opportunities, back onto Mphumalanga Plains and home via the Hippo Dam.

Overnight at Mlilwane Rest Camp

SLEEP OUT ITINERARY: This morning,  prepare for your two-night sleepout adventure.

Set out to ride across Nyonwane Mountain, traversing mountain roads and narrow tracks. Descend to the Usushwana River, where a delightful picnic lunch awaits. Following the riverbank, the trail heads northwest along an old railway line, guiding you into a rural community. Climbing through community homesteads, the trail leads to Mlilwane North and concludes at EmaSomini Camp in the late afternoon (5-6 hours riding). While wildlife is scarce in the mountains, the plains offer glimpses of diverse fauna on both your departure and return days and the views are stunning.

Spend the night at EmaSomini Fly Camp, a rustic camp within the Mlilwane reserve. Experience cooking over a campfire and a true camping experience. Despite washing facilities being limited, it is a truly immersive outdoor experience.

DAY 4 - LODGE-BASED ITINERARY / SLEEP-OUT ITINERARY

LODGE-BASED ITINERARY: This morning you’ll head out on a 4 hour speciality Ride, including lunch at Malandelas Country Restaurant. It will be one of the 3 below – or something just as unique

Community & Craft Lunch Ride:  Leaving Mlilwane, this route passes through rural community to Malandela’s Restaurant in Malkerns, where we enjoy lunch on the terrace, looking across the farm towards Mlilwane’s mountains. Lunch and drinks are included in the trail fee, but guests are welcome to bring their cards for curio shopping at Malandelas’ various fair-trade craft shops. The return ride is through small private farms, back into Mlilwane for an easy afternoon in Rest Camp. The outing takes 3-4 hours, with 2 hours riding.

Poachers Breakfast Ride: A short, fun single-trail trail to a fabulous site within Mlilwane, where brunch is set up for the group, and the horses get to enjoy a hay net! After brunch, guests ride an alternative shorter route home. We have a few site options, decided on prevailing weather and going. The outing is around 3 hours, with about 2 hrs riding.

Houndless-Hunt Ride This one hour ride is fun and fast, fashioned on the fox or drag hunts with a series of good paced canter legs, small river crossings and a few logs to hop along the way. This ride is a group ride, and depends on the ability of the entire group and the fitness of the horses at the time.

There is time for a break at the lodge, before heading out on your evening activity.

In the evening, you’ll have a sunset drive, departing from Rest Camp and heads up Nyonyane Mountain to Nyagato View Point, where guests enjoy sunset drinks (included) in a stunning setting. From this vantage point overlooking Mantenga Valley, guests get a bird’s eye view of the areas they have ridden or will ride and may walk the short Ridge Trail for a leg-stretch and great photos… and an often welcome break from the saddle!

Overnight at Mlilwane Rest Camp

SLEEP-OUT ITINERARY: Spend the day riding through the ridges and valleys of Mlilwane North, enjoying panoramic views of Eswatini, Mozambique, and South Africa. The terrain may not allow for fast riding, but your experienced guides will find opportunities to pick up the pace and the views are worth it. You can choose between a full-day ride with a saddlebag lunch or split it into a morning and afternoon ride, returning to camp for lunch. Some groups prefer a morning ride and a laid-back afternoon at camp.

Overnight at EmaSomini Fly Camp.

 

DAY 5 - LODGE-BASED ITINERARY / SLEEP-OUT ITINERARY

Lodge-Based Itinerary: This morning you’ll head out on a 3 hour trail ride, before coming back to camp for lunch. This 3 hour ride explores the eastern slopes of Nyonyane, climbing up to Mantenga View Point, and on to just below Execution Rock, revealing its monumental beauty. Once again, the ride differs, winding up through granite boulders above the old tin mines, climbing the aloe-topped foothill and dropping down to the Usushwana River, returning home along the forested roads. This ride offers fun canters and slow climbs.

In the afternoon, you’ll have the chance for another ride, or you can choose to walk, cycle or just relax.

Sleep-Out Itinerary: Have breakfast in camp and then pack up for a full-day ride (4-5 hours) back to Mlilwane Rest Camp, with a saddlebag lunch along the way. You will pass beautiful vantage points and enjoy some winding fun canters along the way home.

Once back at Mlilwane Rest Camp, you have the option for a sunset drive on the reserve before dinner. Stay overnight at Mlilwane Rest Camp.

DAY 6 - MORNING RIDE & TRANSFER TO KAMSHOLO

A leisurely breakfast marks the start of a much-appreciated slow day for horses and riders with a 2 hour morning ride. Then hop into the car where you’ll have a 2 hour drive to KaMsholo Reserve.

The first evening ride introduces guests to the lowveld. The ride winds through the bush, to a special dinner site near Camp across from the impressive Lubombo Mountains. The pace can be gentle of fast depending on the group and sightings of giraffe, zebra, ostrich and waterbuck are not uncommon. The horses are taken back to the stables while guests enjoy dinner with the setting sun. (Weather permitting)

Overnight Tinsele Camp

DAY 7 - NGUNI MUSTERING & WILDLIFE RIDE

An early start with coffee and rusks, hopping into the saddle and heading off to find the beautiful Nguni cattle. This herd is a breeding show herd with some of the oldest and purest genes in Africa! We begin riding through the bush, with lovely trots and canters, possible giraffe and wildlife sightings while tracking the Nguni. Once located, the guides explain a few different colour and pattern combinations and impart the traditional importance of the Nguni. Then its down to business… a blow on the traditional Luveve horn, a whistle and a bleat at the cattle, as the group herds them to their Sibaya (kraal) for their daily checks. The ride varies in length and pace but usually lasts 3 hrs. The cattle are gentle and used to humans and horses, but there have been moments where a few youngsters try break the muster, and riders need to maneuver them back to the herd. Warning – do not wear your best riding gear!

Enjoy lunch back at the camp, with time for a siesta and swim.

The second afternoon/evening ride focuses on wildlife – a more gentle ride spending time with the giraffe, ostrich, kudu and other plains game. This is often a bitter sweet ride, as it marks the end of the Eswatini Riding Holiday, so guides do their best to provide a wonderful “last canter” and best giraffe sightings  to ensure lasting memories!

Overnight Tinsele Camp

DAY 8 - DEPART ESWATINI

The dreaded day of departure arrives with an early breakfast. You will depart Tinsele for the airport or onwards to the Kruger National Park, Cape Town or Mkhaya Game Reserve

Day 8 - 10: OPTIONAL RHINO AND BUFFALO MHKAYA RESERVE ADD-ON

After breakfast on Day 8, take a 1hr30min transfer to the beautiful Mhkaya Game Reserve. From here enjoy two tranquil nights of game drives and walking safaris based at enchanting Stone Camp, searching for white and black rhino, buffaloes, and many other species.

Mkhaya Game Reserve: Mkhaya offers a unique and intimate safari experience, focused on encounters with some of Africa’s iconic wildlife. All travel within the reserve is guided, either by open Land Rovers or on foot, providing excellent photographic opportunities and a high chance of spotting Black Rhino in the wild – a rare sight in Africa today.

Supported by various organizations and individuals, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, the SA Nature Foundation, and generous grants, Mkhaya has managed to thrive. The reserve is self-financed through visitor revenues, conservation efforts, Nguni cattle, and other sustainable resources. The name ‘Mkhaya,’ derived from the indigenous Senegalia nigrescens tree, meaning ‘home,’ reflects its significance in Eswatini’s cultural and architectural context.

With a unique history rooted in conserving indigenous Nguni cattle, Mkhaya has evolved into a sanctuary for locally threatened and endangered species. The reserve boasts Eswatini’s only buffalo, sable antelope, Livingstone’s eland, and tsessebe populations, alongside black and white rhinos, giraffes, and roan antelopes. Intense species management within fenced areas ensures the high security necessary for the protection of endangered species.

Mkhaya, an award-winning reserve, has received recognition for its commitment to conservation and outstanding accommodations. The rhino viewing experience is likened to a mountain gorilla encounter in Central Africa. Entirely staffed and patrolled by Swazis from neighboring communities, Mkhaya has developed one of Africa’s most effective anti-poaching units. Visitors’ support is crucial for sustaining this unique international conservation effort.

A journey to Mkhaya is a journey into Real Africa – an enriching and unforgettable experience that resonates with the soul, showcasing the beauty of nature and the success of dedicated conservation efforts.

Stone Camp:

Stone Camp beckons nature enthusiasts to experience the charm of returning to the basics in comfort amid the African bush. The architecture, crafted from dolerite stones, imparts a unique character. Embracing simplicity, the camp eliminates electricity, replacing it with the soft glow of candles and paraffin lanterns, creating a magical ambiance at sundown. Gas geysers and solar power add a touch of convenience. Twelve semi-open accommodation units, discreetly hidden in the riverine forest, feature thatched roofs suspended on stone pillars. The units, with views into the forest, boast concrete screed floors, ensuring coolness in hot summers. Stone Camp thrives with life, welcoming regular guests like suni, nyala, and warthogs. Stone Camp invites guests to immerse themselves in nature, promising a tranquil retreat surrounded by the untamed beauty of the African wilderness.  No wifi at camp.

Activities:

  • Game drives in search of black and white rhino, buffalo and much more
  • Game walks taking in the wildlife from foot
  • Birding walks focusing on the wonderful birdlife

This is a wonderful way to end of your trip if you have extra time and budget. Rates from GBP 320 per person for 2 nights.

THE ACCOMMODATION

MLILWANE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY’S REST CAMP

7 self-catering cottages range from 2-3 bed Lontweni Rondavels to the 6-bed Shonalanga Family Cottage, all situated along the ridge overlooking the Mhlambanyati River valley always busy with nyala, zebra, blesbuck wildebeest and kudu.  Each cottage has a private braai area with outside seating to ensure the view is maximized.  The Hippo Haunt Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner overlooking a picturesque Bird pool, often with hippo and crocodile.  Breakfast and dinner are typically buffets, while lunches are a la carte.

FLY CAMPING

The camping is as comfortable as rustic can be – intent on enjoying nature with a little roughing it! Camps are set up in secluded spots with incredible views. Canvas dome tents are used with canvas bedrolls, complete with pillow, mattress, sheets, duvets or sleeping bags. A camp shower and pit latrine are conveniently positioned.

TINSELE CAMP

Tinsele Camp has eight chalets situated in the valley 1,2 kilometres from the main building. Entabeni Lodge has a communal pool and conference facilities.  The chalets are situated in typical lowveld bush surroundings abundant with freely roaming Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Nyala, Impala and Ostrich.  Each chalet comprises of an open plan upstairs room, which can sleep two people and a downstairs room that also sleeps two people.  There is an en-suite bathroom downstairs.  Each room has air-conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities and a viewing deck.

THE DESTINATION

Eswatini

The Kingdom of Eswatini is one of Africa’s smallest countries, smaller even than South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Despite its size, Eswatini has incredible biodiversity, due to the ever-changing topography – from mountain highlands to savanna lowlands within a stretch of 130km. One of the world’s last true monarchies, Eswatini is known for its stunning scenery, friendly Swazi people and very relaxed way of life.

Horse riding in Eswatini

HOW WE CARE FOR OUR HORSES

Our horseback adventures are hand-picked for their quality and care of their horses. Here’s how the horses in Eswatini are kept in tip-top shape for your safaris. Our horses are on top of the hierarchy and receive very special care:

  • The horses are viewed as partners in the mountains, to be respected and assisted while they carry us on our journey
  • The horses run as a herd, as we believe this goes a long way to creating happy, versatile horses.
  • The herd is split into 3 groups with one group being off every week. This way they have less chance of becoming stale at work, and they socialize with the entire herd, translating to easy trailing
  • The horses are rotated between paddocks on the farm, all of which are shared with wildlife which makes its way in. On any given day, there are nyala, zebra, wildebeest, warthog and blesbuck in our paddocks, making the horses more accepting of wildlife

Please let us know if you have any more questions about this.

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