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Swazi Culture & Scenery

Overview

The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) is a new and exciting destination for horse riders - with its diverse terrain, accommodation and Swazi culture, you'll be immersed in the real Africa. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across a transition zone between middle-veld (grassl…

Highlights

  • Ride through varied, ever-changing landscapes
  • Ride amongst wildebeest, zebra, antelope and warthogs
  • Discover the unique Swazi culture
  • Non-riding options on centre based Mlilwane ride
  • Novice riders accommodated as part of private group

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 8 riders per group (10 in camp)
  • Average of 4 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 85 kg / 187 lbs / 13 stone 5 lbs

Description

The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) is a new and exciting destination for horse riders - with its diverse terrain, accommodation and Swazi culture, you'll be immersed in the real Africa.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across a transition zone between middle-veld (grassland savannah) and high-veld (mountains) providing an ever-changing landscape. Along the water courses you may see hippo, crocodile, fish eagle and many more water birds. Across the plains you'll get close to wildebeest, zebra, nyala, roan antelope, blesbuck and impala as well as the ever-entertaining warthogs. Originally a commercial farm and tin mine, Mlilwane was the first conservation area in Eswatini and has many intriguing historical points of interest, from the tin mines themselves to Bushman Caves. On horseback you will be able to appreciate how nature has reclaimed the land once utilised by humans.

KaMsholo is a small pristine lowveld reserve tucked under the impressive Lubombo mountains. A 2 hour drive from Mlilwane it offers a totally different biome with the chance to spot giraffe and the local Nguni cattle from horseback.

You are hosted by a family-run team of horse lovers and conservationists. Please note that this is a remote area with some nights without electricity or cell phone signal.

Horses & Riding

Tack

Liversage enduro saddles (trail saddles) with simple snaffle bridles and rope halters. There are small saddle bags in the numnahs to carry water and snacks. They recommend that you bring your own water bottle to reduce waste.

Horses

Your horses have been carefully selected and bred for comfort as well as easy and happy riding. The herd comprises mainly of crossbreeds from a foundation stock of Arab, Warmblood and Boerperd with some recent additions of Percheron, Friesian, Clydesdale, Appaloosa, Lusitano and Thoroughbred crosses. Most are 15-15.2hh as smaller horses are usually more agile in the mountains.

The rides take you across technical terrain where you will cross rivers on horseback and may have to dismount and lead your horse over tricky paths. You will be expected to tack up your own horse and mount independently from the ground (with the help of a mountain rock if required).

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Mlilwane Ride (Centre Based) is a based ride
  • Mlilwane Ride (Camp-Out) is a trail ride

Ages

Riders of 8 years or older can join the Mlilwane rides

Health

You need to be fit for long hours in the saddle and able to dismount and lead your horse on foot. Some of the camps are remote so you need to have good general health.

Weight

85 kg / 187 lbs / 13 stone 5 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

You dine in the restaurants at the two main lodges/camps. Hippo Haunt at Rest Camp and Trading Post at KaMsholo provide a buffet breakfast and dinner with a la carte lunches. Saddlebag lunches are provided on full day rides with snacks or sandwiches with fruit and juice.

If you opt for the two nights fly camping then meals are cooked over the open fire.

Vegetarians can be accommodated and some special diets but please check with us first as sourcing some food stuffs can be difficult. Vegans cannot be catered for.

Accommodation

You can stay in a diverse mixture of accommodation, depending on the itinerary chosen - please see individual itineraries for more details.

On the Mlilwane Ride (centre based) you stay on two different reserves and in two different sets of rondavels. The Beehive huts or Lontweni rondavels at Mlilwane Rest camp are en-suite - the camp is quite large so they choose the more private options where possible. At Kamsholo you stay at Tinsele camp which has just 8 rondavels with ensuite bathrooms, so has a smaller and more personal fee.

On the Mlilwane Ride (with sleep-out) you also spend two nights camping. Camp is fully supported with bell tents, bucket showers and long-drop toilets but has no electricity.

Single rooms are limited and extra cost.

Itineraries

Mlilwane Ride (Centre Based) Standard accommodation.

Mlilwane Ride (Camp-Out) Tented / Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

On the centre based Mlilwane Ride, non-riders are welcomed and you can opt to do as much or as little riding as you like. This is a much more flexible itinerary which is suited to families and mixed groups. The itinerary can be adapted to suit your groups needs.

Travel

Eswatini is less than 400km from Johannesburg airport, so we recommend a road shuttle which is more affordable and takes the same amount of time.

The daily shuttle departs Johannesburg's OR Tambo airport at c. 09:00am on your arrival day, and departs Ezulwini at c. 10:00am on your departure day. Your guides will transfer you the final 10km between Ezulwini and the reserve.

You MUST book flights which arrive c. 7am to allow time for passport control and to collect your luggage before making your way to the shuttle. The journey to Eswatini takes c. 4 hours from the airport to the border, plus 30-60 mins for passport formalities and another c. 30mins to your destination.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrival day. If you are arriving on the shuttle from Johannesburg then you can be collected and transferred to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary to overnight. There will be time to meet the horses, but the shuttle doesn't arrive in time for a ride. However, there are a number of hiking trails if you wish to stretch your legs.

If you are self driving and can arrive early enough then it's possible to have a short 1 hour sundowner ride this evening.

Day 2

Riding: 5 hours

After breakfast you'll set off on your first ride on the reserve with hopefully plenty of game viewing whilst you get to know your mount. Along the water course there are hippo, crocodile, fish eagles and many water birds. On the eastern plains you could spot wildebeest, zebra, nyala, roan antelope, blesbuck and impala. Return for lunch in camp and then set out on an afternoon ride to explore the western plains. Return to the rest camp for dinner and to overnight. The local warthogs often provide the entertainment around camp!

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Full day ride along the Usushwana River or a 4 hour ride along the Rock of Execution trail (depending on group size), returning to the lodge for dinner.

Day 4

Riding: 4 hours

A four hour speciality lunch ride. Afternoon at leisure before joining a sunset drive.

Day 5

Riding: 4 hours

The morning offers a 3 hour mountain trail ride whilst the afternoon includes a lovely one hour sundowner ride.

Day 6

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Set off on a 2 hour morning ride before transferring 2 hours to KaMsholo for lunch (transfer is additional cost). KaMsholo is a small, pristine lowveld reserve tucked under the Lubombo Mountain. This area offers a totally different landscape and spectacular views and the chance to see giraffe. Take a sunset ride in the late afternoon to get to know your new horse.

Day 7

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

In the morning you can try your hand at mustering the local Ngunyi cattle for 2-3 hours with a bush breakfast, whilst in the afternoon your ride is focused on seeking giraffe. If you don't fancy riding then you can opt for a different activity, a swim or to simply relax in camp.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

Depart after breakfast

Accommodation

5 nights Mlilwane Rest Camp and 2 nights KaMsholo Tinsele camp.

Experience Beginner / Intermediate / Experienced

You should be at least an intermediate rider who is fit for some long hours in the saddle and confident to ride at all paces in open spaces. Shorter stays or stays with less hours in the saddle are also possible for novice riders, but all riders should be of a similar ability within the group as it's not possible to split the ride.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 8
Accommodation for up to 10.
Departure windows

Jan. 5, 2024 - Jan. 10, 2024  (5 night)

Jan. 12, 2024 - Jan. 19, 2024  (7 night)

Jan. 26, 2024 - Jan. 31, 2024  (5 night)

Feb. 2, 2024 - Feb. 7, 2024  (5 night)

Feb. 14, 2024 - Feb. 21, 2024  (7 night)

Feb. 23, 2024 - Feb. 28, 2024  (5 night)

March 1, 2024 - March 6, 2024  (5 night)

March 8, 2024 - March 15, 2024  (7 night)

April 9, 2024 - April 16, 2024  (7 night)

April 24, 2024 - April 29, 2024  (5 night)

May 24, 2024 - May 31, 2024  (7 night)

June 21, 2024 - June 26, 2024  (5 night)

Sept. 17, 2024 - Sept. 24, 2024  (7 night)

Nov. 29, 2024 - Dec. 4, 2024  (5 night)

Dec. 6, 2024 - Dec. 13, 2024  (7 night)

Dec. 17, 2024 - Dec. 22, 2024  (5 night)

Pricing

2024
Rider, 7 nights, Single
£1145 $1460 €1345
2024
Rider, 7 nights, Sharing
£1075 $1365 €1260
2024
Rider, 5 nights, Single
£860 $1095 €1010
*Omits days 4 and 5
2024
Rider, 5 nights, Sharing
£810 $1030 €950
*Omits days 4 and 5
Included Accommodation, all meals, riding, conservation fee
Not included Flights, transfers to Mlilwane, transfers within Mlilwane, drinks, insurance, personal expenses, tips

Extras

2024 - Airport Shuttle Transfer £73 $93 €86
Paid to Far and Ride
Road Shuttle from Johannesburg airport to Eswatini - price may vary slightly
2024 - Conservation Fee £26 $33 €30
Paid to Far and Ride
2024 - Inter-Park Transfer (per person sharing) £62 $79 €73
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfer between Mlilwane and KaMsholo parks (return). Based on 2+ passengers sharing
2024 - Inter-Park Transfer (Single traveller) £125 $159 €146
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfer between Mlilwane and KaMsholo parks (return)
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrival day. If you are arriving on the shuttle from Johannesburg then you can be collected and transferred to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary to overnight. There will be time to meet the horses, but the shuttle doesn't arrive in time for a ride. However, there are a number of hiking trails if you wish to stretch your legs.

If you are self driving and can arrive early enough then it's possible to have a short 1 hour sundowner ride this evening.

Day 2

Riding: 5 hours

After breakfast you'll set off on your first ride on the reserve with hopefully plenty of game viewing whilst you get to know your mount. Along the water course there are hippo, crocodile, fish eagles and many water birds. On the eastern plains you could spot wildebeest, zebra, nyala, roan antelope, blesbuck and impala. Return for lunch in camp and then set out on an afternoon ride to explore the western plains. Return to the rest camp for dinner and to overnight. The local warthogs often provide the entertainment around camp!

Day 3

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Set off on your two night adventure to sleep-out camp - you'll have to pack a small bag for these two nights. Along the way you'll stop for a saddlebag lunch, arriving at fly camp in time for a campfire dinner.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

After breakfast in camp set out on a full day ride into Mlilwane North with another saddle bag lunch. Return to fly camp in time for a second campfire dinner.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Another full day ride as you head back to Mlilwane Rest Camp. On returning you can head out on a sunset game drive to rest those aching muscles! Dinner in the restaurant.

Day 6

Riding: 3 hours

Set off on a 2 hour morning ride before transferring 2 hours to KaMsholo for lunch (transfer is additional cost). KaMsholo is a small, pristine lowveld reserve tucked under the Lubombo Mountain. This area offers a totally different landscape and spectacular views and the chance to see giraffe. Take a sunset ride in the late afternoon to get to know your new horse.

Day 7

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

In the morning you can try your hand at mustering the local Ngunyi cattle for 2-3 hours with a bush breakfast, whilst in the afternoon your ride is focused on seeking giraffe. If you don't fancy riding then you can opt for a different activity, a swim or to simply relax in camp.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

Depart after breakfast

Accommodation

3 nights Mlilwane Rest Camp, 2 nights sleep-out camp and 2 nights KaMsholo Tinsele camp

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You should be at least an intermediate rider who is fit for some long hours in the saddle and confident to ride at all paces in open spaces.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

May 2, 2024 - May 9, 2024

May 14, 2024 - May 21, 2024

June 12, 2024 - June 19, 2024

June 28, 2024 - July 5, 2024

Aug. 30, 2024 - Sept. 6, 2024

Pricing

2024
Rider, single
£1180 $1500 €1385
2024
Rider, sharing
£1100 $1400 €1295
Included Accommodation, all meals, riding, conservation fee, drinks for nights at sleep-out camp
Not included Flights, transfers to Mlilwane, transfers within Mlilwane, drinks (except at sleep-out camp), insurance, personal expenses, tips

Extras

2024 - Airport Shuttle Transfer £73 $93 €86
Paid to Far and Ride
Road Shuttle from Johannesburg airport to Eswatini - price may vary slightly
2024 - Conservation Fee £26 $33 €30
Paid to Far and Ride
2024 - Inter-Park Transfer (per person sharing) £62 $79 €73
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfer between Mlilwane and KaMsholo parks (return). Based on 2+ passengers sharing
2024 - Inter-Park Transfer (Single) £125 $159 €146
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfer between Mlilwane and KaMsholo parks (return).
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.