Few countries on Earth boast as much exotic wildlife and as diverse landscapes within such a small space as Swaziland. Although many guided tour and safari organizers based in South Africa include Swaziland as part of their package holidays, some small tours and daytrips are organized by Swazi natives who know this tiny, yet beautiful, territory better than anyone else.
No fewer than nine national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries lie within Swaziland’s small borders. Whether visitors hike, cycle, or take guided safari tours across any of these protected areas, they are bound to encounter lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, and many of the same exotic wildlife species found in much larger African countries. Visitors can also go tiger fishing at Lake Jozini or Pongola Dam or whitewater rafting along the Usutu River, or take a dramatic canopy tour above the Malolotja Nature Reserve’s mountains. The Ezulwini Valley’s ‘cuddle puddle’ is one among several Swaziland hot mineral springs.
Big Game Parks is not only among Swaziland’s leading safari tour organizers, but this locally-owned, non-profit company also manages Mkhaya Game Reserve, Hlane Royal National Park, and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. It is possible to tour all of these unique wildlife preserves in a single day as they are all less than a 1 hour, 30 minute drive from each other.
The horse trailing arm of Big Game Parks, Chubeka Trails, offers horseback riding tours across its home base, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. These tours can last from an hour to several days. Hoofbeat Swaziland is another reputable Swaziland stable nestled between several Ezulwini Valley luxury hotels. The Hoofbeats property also includes a jungle paintball range, a gravel go-kart track, and a mountain campsite.
Visitors should explore the unmarked and unbeaten paths of Ngwempisi Hiking Trails in the company of experienced local guides. All day hiking excursions around this ruggedly beautiful valley near one of Swaziland’s oldest communities, Mankayane, begin at the centrally-located Khopho Hut.
Jolly Roger Tiger Fishing Charters, based at the Royal Jozini Big 6 Game Reserve, is one of Swaziland’s most reputable fishing charter tour companies. Lake Jozini and Pongola Dam are the world’s southernmost tiger fishing spots. Bass is the other most frequently caught fish here, especially along the Komati River’s Maguga Dam. The cost of all Swaziland fishing excursions includes fishing gear and a boat with a skipper.
Swazi Trails Adventure organizes thrilling whitewater rafting excursions down the 33 foot high waterfall near Bulungu Gorge, but the thrills are often accompanied by leisurely floating along the Usutu River. Rafters can also choose to combine whitewater rafting in the morning with tubing or abseiling below the Holomi Waterfall in the afternoon.
Swaziland’s first certified canopy tour organizer is Malolotja Canopy Tours, which offers dramatic canopy tours above the towering cliffs, ancient rock formations, and lush forests of the mountainous Malolotja Nature Reserve. Tandem tours with experienced guides are available for visitors who are nervous about taking this daring journey on their own.