Swaziland Single-tracks Mountain Biking Tour
Day 1:Arrival Swaziland - Transfer to Hawane Lodge Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
Pick up Airport and have Lunch at Malandela’s House on Fire! Famous Restaurant in Swaziland and be transfer at Hawane Lodge where we’ll check in to the thatched lodges of the Hawane Resort. We’ll get the bikes set-up in the afternoon and then can relax, taking in the view over the amazing local Scenery.
Day 2: Swazi highlands loop 30 Miles / 50 Kms Approx Breakfast, Lunch Dinner Own Cost
Today is the perfect introduction to Swaziland and to the trip. After breakfast in Hawane’s thatched dining room, we’ll hop straight on the bikes and ride on a mix of farm-tracks and minor Roads, heading to the home of Ngwenya Glass. Ngwenya Glass has been making glassware in Swaziland since 1987. The Business employs and trains local people and it is the only Glassblowing factory in the whole of Africa. They only use recycled glass and every piece that they create is hand-made and mouth-blown. The owners of the business are keen mountain bikers and every Year put on the Ngwenya Glass Challenge – a single day Mountain bike event in the surrounding hills. Although the race only happens once a year, we’re able to access the trails which are used in the event and which are located in the hills, forests and meadows which surround the factory.
We’ll start off gently with some dirt roads, then a long section of smooth fast Single-track through grass meadows. Once our legs are nicely warmed up we’ll head for some of the more challenging riding that the area has to offer. We head uphill into the forests above Ngwenya Glass, with the Climbing being a mix of vehicle-width jeep trails and more challenging single-track. We’re going to tackle a short rocky Climb known as “Apologies in Advance”, where we will have the Chance to stop and practice our technical climbing skills which will come in handy later in the trip. As we climb away from the valley bottom and into the hills we’ll get some amazing views across the surrounding area and at the very top we’re rewarded with a single-track trail up and over an impressive granite slick rock outcrop. From the high point our route winds its way down through the Forest and includes some fantastic swoopy single-track (including A few short steep sections) and we head back towards Ngwenya Glass. Of course, as our route is used a race course there’s a bit of a sting in the tail – the last few kms are a classic Skedaddle Cheeky climb – remember to keep a bit of energy in reserve for this!
After a late lunch at the Ngwenya Glass café, we’ll have a quick tour of the factory, where we can watch the process of glass making in action and meet some of the highly skilled workers. For anyone who is interested in buying a souvenir here, the Factory will safely store any items you purchase, which we can then collect en-route back to the airport at the end of the trip. After transferring back up to our beehive lodges at Hawane you’ll have the last part of the afternoon to relax before dinner.
Day 3: Homesteads and Forests of the West 28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx Breakfast,Lunch, Own Cost
Today we’re going to make the most of cooler conditions and Beautiful light by making an early start, so after a light breakfast we’re going to depart at 7am, riding straight from the door. Our route takes us down into the Hawane Valley before heading west into the Motshane Valley. The trails are initially a mix of Gravel 4×4 tracks and grassland single-track. We’ll head past a number of local homesteads and you’ll get a real insight into the rural nature of the area. Later in the ride we pick up a former railway, now turned into a cycling trail and climb on a gentle gradient up into the Montigny forest. En-route we’ll stop for a relaxed lunch at a wood fired pizza restaurant.
After lunch we’ll continue our journey, using a network of forest trails before arriving at our overnight accommodation, a beautiful lodge set deep in the forest with views out over landscaped gardens and the wooded hills beyond. Tonight we’ll eat in style – the Foresters Arms has a well-deserved reputation for the amazing quality of their food. After dinner, there’s the chance to kick back in relax in their colonial era bar, complete with original wood parquet flooring and comfy wicker armchairs.
Day 4: Ezulwini Valley and Mlilwane 35 Miles / 55 Kms Approx Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll set off first on a series of jeep trails through the forest, initially heading through the village of Mhlambanyatsi before winding our way down through the forest Into the Ezulwini Valley. We’re going to be descending from our overnight accommodation located at 1300m down to 450m.Our destination for the morning ride is Swazi Candles, a local Crafts producer. We’ll enjoy an early lunch at their café under their Huckleberry trees, while watching the Swazi artists crafting their masterpieces.
After lunch we’re back on the bikes and we’ll pick up a network of farm tracks, single-track and a few short sections of rural road on route to our overnight destination – Mlilwane Game Reserve. As we enter the reserve we’ll have a chance to view some of the incredible range of wildlife that they have there – everything from Zebra to Blue Wildebeest, Hippo and maybe a crocodile or two! The park is full of trails which make for Perfect Mountain
Biking. We’ll start off on smooth jeep trails, before taking to some of the sections of woodland single-track that have been carved out of the extensive forest here.
Once we get to our accommodation, we’ll check in and then enjoy a sundowner at the Hippo Haunt Restaurant overlooking the water hole at Mlilwane. Tonight’s accommodation is Peaceful, detached beehive-style lodges with thatched roofs.
Day 5: Imvelo Mountain Bike Classic 40 Miles / 65 Kms Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
Today we’re going to riding straight from the door and trying out some of the incredible trails that form the route for the annual Imvelo Mountain Bike Challenge, a single day event put on to showcase the best of the area to mountain bikers. We’ll start off with 20kms or so of gentle riding – perfect for a warm-up. But from then on, things get somewhat more challenging. The route profile looks like a set of crocodile teeth –Plenty of shorts climbs and fun descents. Some of the riding is pretty challenging, including some granite slick rock and there are a couple of shallow river crossings, but the harder sections are pretty short. The route incorporates some of the finest riding in the area, plenty of great single-track, some impressive views over the surrounding countryside and enough of a challenge to make it feel like we’ve earnt our dinner in the evening! In the late afternoon, our route will take us back to our beehive lodges at Mlilwane where we’ll have a chance to relax before Dinner. There’s likely to be a traditional Swazi dancing display for your entertainment in the evening.
Day 6: Lowveld trails of Nkonyeni 28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
Today there’s a chance for an optional early morning ride on the dirt roads and woodland single-track in the reserve before breakfast. The cool conditions and great light mean it’s a perfect timing for spotting wildlife. After breakfast, we’ll take to our bikes and ride straight from the door. The ride today will be a variety of game paths, woodland single-track, farm tracks, rural roads and a disused railway line as we head down into the Lowveld of Swaziland. The route will take us through pineapple farms, sugar cane fields and across the Great Usutu River on route to our overnight accommodation– The Nkonyeni Golf and Game Estate.
We’ll take a late lunch at the Nkonyeni Club House and then you’ll have the afternoon to relax. For those keen to do more riding, there are waymarked mountain bike trails within the estate which are perfect for some afternoon entertainment. For those interested in a gentler afternoon, there’s the chance to have a round of golf or if you need a little pampering, the on-site spa offers massages and a range of other treatments. In the evening, we’ll take dinner at our lodge.
Day 7 Wildlife of Mkhaya Non riding day Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
This morning after breakfast we’ll pack up and say good bye to Nkonyeni and head an hour east in our minibus to the Mkhaya Game Reserve, in time for a 10am check-in.
Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife. Travel within the reserve is in open Land Rovers or on foot with highly skilled and knowledgeable guides, providing superb photographic opportunities and probably the best chance of seeing Black Rhino in the wild in Africa today. At the heart of their bush camp is a giant Sausage Tree, Kigelia Africana, believed to be centuries old. Tonight’s accommodation is pretty special – we’ll be staying in luxury en-suite thatched Stone cottages, whose big selling point is their open sides, at night, you’ll sleep under a four-poster bed complete with its own giant mosquito net to keep any bugs out, but the open sided nature of the cottages means that you’ll be able to get as close to the local wildlife as is possible to imagine! Don’t worry though, it’s perfectly safe – the larger animals in the reserve such as the black Rhino are kept safely in a different part of the reserve.
During our stay at Mkhaya we’ll have the chance to explore the reserve both by Land Rover and on foot, with the amazing local guides, who will do their best to show you the finest wildlife that they have to offer. In the evening, we’ll eat together in the amazing thatched dining room, located at the centre of the camp under their giant sausage Tree.
Day 8: Mbuluzi forest 15 Miles / 25 Kms Approx Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
After a sunrise game view, we’ll head back to camp for breakfast to pack up and check out. Our next destination is the Mbuluzi Game reserve, a 2350 hectare (roughly 6000 acre) private game reserve, situated on the banks of the Mbuluzi and Mlawula rivers. The management team at the reserve are keen mountain bikers and they have invested a huge amount of time and energy in creating an incredible range of mountain bikes trails. We’ll make full use of this network during our stay here. On arrival, we’ll check into our luxury tented accommodation. We will be staying in permanent tents with solid floors, en-suite bathrooms and electricity. Each tent comes with an additional private outdoor shower for you to experience if you’re feeling adventurous!
We’ll get the bikes unpacked and set-up and then after a picnic Lunch we’ll head out to experience some of the well-manicured Single-track trails that the reserve boasts. The ride will incorporate all the best trails close to where we’re staying –there are sections of flowing woodland tracks, some tougher rocky climbs and descents and some sections of jeep trail winding their way through the reserve. The reserve is home to Giraffe, Impala and Wildebeest and with our knowledgeable local guide; we’ll do our best to spot some Wildlife during out ride. Towards the end of the afternoon we’ll head for a highpoint of the Shewula Mountain Camp for Sundowners overlooking the Swaziland Lowveld before heading back to our camp for dinner. Dinner will be provided by our own private chef who will make the most of the BBQ facilities at the camp and provide us with an amazing dinner under the stars.
Day 9: Wildlife and single-track of Mbuluzi 25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Own Cost
After a relaxed breakfast, we’ll take to our bikes and ride straight from the door. Today we will be riding in both the southern and northern parts of the reserve in search of both single-track and wildlife. The tracks used are a mixture of animal trails, purpose built single-track and jeep trails. We’ll cover the vast majority of the reserve and during the ride you’ll get to experience a wide range of terrain, scenery and hopefully wildlife. We’ll take a picnic lunch with us out on the ride and will stop at somewhere with a suitably impressive view for our final day of riding. In the afternoon, we’ll hit the trail again and trace a route back along the forest trail network to our camp. There will be a chance for a sundowner at camp before our chef returns to prepare an amazing dinner under the stars.
Day 10: Departure from Swaziland Breakfast Own Cost
Sadly today is the end of the trip, so after breakfast, we depart lodge and be transferred to Swaziland Airport.