Next in our series of ’50 Reasons to Visit Eswatini (Swaziland) in 50/50 Year’, numbers 31-36 focus on the country’s incredible scenic destinations to visit.
Stunning mountain scenery with rivers, waterfalls and gorges can be found across Eswatini (Swaziland). A variety of contrasting landscapes from unique rock formations, which are among the world’s most ancient, to lush greenery and fertile valleys that sit alongside. What you will see in our next five reasons to visit Eswatini is how the most impressive and dramatic landscapes sit side-by-side with the African wilderness, offering breath-taking scenery.
31. North-West Highlands
The North-West Highlands really do have some of the best scenery found across Eswatini and in Southern Africa.
Malolotja supplies a backdrop of high rolling hills and is home to an abundance of fauna and flora. The unspoilt mountain wilderness extends across 18,0000 hectares, making it the largest protected area in Eswatini. Hikers can get lost in the area’s sheer beauty. The Phophonyane Nature Reserve found close by is an untouched paradise with rich natural vegetation. A highlight is the 80m high waterfall which add to the area’s picture-perfect environment.
If you’ve set your sights on wanting to see intensely dramatic views from even higher grounds, then heading to Bulembu is your best option with good trails to hike across the region and the option to trek to the summit of Emlembe, Eswatini’s highest peak surrounded by the natural beauty of lush green hills and stunning forests.
32. Ngwempisi & Mhlambanyatsi
The Ngwempisi river runs through an impressive 20km gorge that showcases the diverse geology prevalent in Eswatini. This stunning wilderness landscape ensures a challenging and very rewarding number of hiking trails, and its striking river provides visitors with the chance to explore the gorge from the comfort of their own river tube.
Nearby Mhlambanyatsi is also well worth a visit. The picturesque surroundings look like they have been taken straight out of a yesteryear tourist book of England. The charming and peaceful village was founded during the 1950’s following the construction of the Usuthu Forest, which is one of the largest man-made forests in the world.
33. Sibebe Rock
Sibebe Rock is one of the most impressive geological features of Southern Africa, standing as the world’s largest granite dome rock. This three-billion-year-old volcanic slab is at its most beautiful after it rains, the rock glistens silver due to the streams running down its rock face. The best way to see the full environment is to climb the rock with an experienced guide. On top, visitors will find an abundance of wild flowers, sculpted boulders and trails leading to various caves.
34. Lubombo Mountains & Shewula
Located on the eastern border of Eswatini visitors will find the Lubombo Mountains, these volcanic hills spread across three nations following the Mozambique border to South Africa. Wild and charming, the mountains are bursting with rare flowers. With a new community program developing a network of eco-walking trails for hiking and mountain biking, this will soon be the place to visit for scenic views whilst also helping to protect the environment.
Shewula Nature Reserve, on the Lubombos, offers some of the most amazing views in the country, that stretch down to the Indian Ocaean to the east and back across the whole of Eswatini to the west. This has become one of the most successful eco-tourism projects in Southern Africa, with activities including guided nature walks and mountain bike rides alongside immersive cultural experiences. The lodge and activities are run by the local community who retain all the income, so visitors can leave the area knowing that their money has been very well spent.
35. Sheba’s Breast & Ezulwini Valley
Two important mountains that cannot be forgotten are Sheba’s Breasts. These peaks overlook Ezulwini Valley and are named after the mysterious Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia. Thestory is that author J. Rider Haggard, who travelled through Eswatini was inspired by the peaks and it is believed that he wrote his famous book “King Solomon’s Mines.” whilst on his trip. Legends also say that Sheba’s Breasts is the site of King Solomon’s mines.There are a variety of well-marked trails to hike up and witness the breath-taking views.
Ezulwini Valley is a tourism hub – the country’s own ‘Valley of Heaven’ that is home to a number of tourist attractions as well as being an area of natural beauty. Visitors come to visit this unique spot where woodland and countryside inter-mingle with the more modern development of bars, hotels and shops making for a real contrast of landscapes.
36. Milwane, Execution Rock & Mantenga
Mlilwane is Eswatini’s best-known nature reserve. From lowland plains and rivers to peaks and endless forests, this reserve is beautiful and enchanting. As well as the wildlife and safaris it offers, every corner offers up a different environment with new elements to see and explore from rivers to lakes, meadows to mountains. There are various ways to experience Millwane by mountain bike, guided or self-guided tours to discovering more of the reserve on horseback.
Execution Rock in Miliwane Nature Reserve is an exposed granite peak. Aancient stories are often shared of how this magnificent peak acquired its name. Eswatini locals suspected of witchcraft or criminals were forced to walk off the edge at spear-point for their crimes. It is worth hiking up to the summit to see the most amazing views of Ezulwini Valley.
Mantenga is a nature reserve with a difference, offering visitors to Eswatini the unique twin focus of discovering both culture and the natural environment. Two major highlights of this reserve are the Mantenga Falls, possibly the largest waterfall by volume (there are a series of short trails that lead to a picnic spot at the falls) and the cultural village, where Eswatini history, culture and tradition are brought alive for visitors.