5 things to do and places to stay in north west Swaziland

Words: Fiona McIntosh
Photos: Brett Foss and Shaen Adey

The remote north-west corner of Swaziland is far away from main tourist routes but has plenty to offer. So if you’re riding, or supporting a rider on the Inyatsi Swazi Frontier mountain bike race, there are plenty of reasons to extend your stay in the pocket-sized mountain kingdom. Like the MTB stage race, it will appeal to those seeking something a little different.

1. Book a cabin or camp in the pristine mountain wilderness of the Malolotja Nature Reserve.
Spend a morning doing the exhilarating Canopy Tour through the lush forest, hike the Malolotja mountain peaks or follow one of the tributaries leading to the Nkomati River for a skinny dip in the pot holes. For more info on the Malolotja Nature Reserve, click here. 

canopy tour swaziland

2. Stay just outside Piggs Peak at:
• Phophonyane Lodge & Nature Reserve, situated next to the Phophonyane Falls; or
• Bushbuck Tent on Sibetsamoya Game Farm in the Phophanyane Conservancy. The luxury self catering tent with its king size bed and wonderful outdoor shower overlooks the Gunwane valley. If you’re lucky you’ll have wildebeest and zebra grazing nearby as you braai on the deck.

Pool side lodge in Swaziland
The pool view at Phophonyane Lodge

3. Visit Coral Stephens Handweaving Studio at Peak Fine Craft Centre, also just outside Piggs Peak.
This busy weaving studio presents great photographic opportunities. The owner, Murrae Stephens, will give you a tour of her studio where local women hand-weave custom-ordered fabrics and carpets for the interior design trade.

Her shop is stocked with a wide range of their woven products – including blankets, carpets, cushion covers, tableware and scarves and shawls.  They also sell a selection of organic soaps, Swazi plastic baskets and selected items from the Mungo range.

Also at Peak Fine Craft Centre is:

Tintsaba workshop where local craftswomen weave baskets, jewellery etc from sisal and alien vegetation. Works from Tintsaba are exhibited at the World Craft Fair in Santa Fe, USA.
Monique Wilson Pottery where Monique, a local ceramicist, produces hand-made painted tiles and a range of exquisite crockery.

Weaving in Swaziland
Thabita in Weaving Studio

4. Stay at Bulembu Country Lodge and visit the Bulembu Museum
This is situated in the the old cableway station at Bulembu Mine, and you will discover more about this old mining town, its geology, the cableway and Swazi history. If you are still feeling energetic, take a guided hike up Emlembe Mountain(1862m).

For more info on Bulembu, click here. 

Bulembu Country Lodge
Stunning view from Bulembu Country Lodge


5. As you head back in the direction of Johannesburg, consider exiting at the Bulembu/Josefdal border to check out the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail

This is a 40km self-drive, interpretive route along the R40 from the border to Barberton. Along the way there are 11 developed geosites, all with well-designed plaques crammed with interesting information about the geology, the wildlife, the history and the culture of the area.

Geo Trail in Swaziland
Before heading home, make sure to visit the Geo Trail

Words: Fiona McIntosh
Photos: Brett Foss and Shaen Adey

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