• Overview
  • Trip Outline
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes

eSwatini 2021

5 to 12 February 2021

Reilly’s Rock, Phophonyane falls, Malolotja, Mbuluzi

Swaziland

eSwatini, one of Africa’s smallest countries, covers 17363 sq km of highly diverse landscapes and habitats, ranging from dramatic mountain scenery to open woodland savannah. The range in altitude from the top of Ngwenya Mountain, eSwatini’s second-highest mountain (1829 m), to the deep Nkomati River Valley (640 m) accounts both for the mild temperate climate and a great variety of habitats; from short grassland, to thick riverine scrub, bushveld and moist Afro-montane forest.

The country boasts a rich diversity of birdlife (493 species recorded to date), including some very interesting specials.

The Destinations 

Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge

Located within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, eSwatini’s pioneer conservation area. This beautiful, secluded sanctuary is situated in eSwatini’s Valley of Heaven, the Ezulwini Valley, between Mbabane and Manzini. The Lodge is a small, personal, quietly Colonial guest house in the sanctuary and within botanical gardens. In the gardens one finds rare aloes and cycads, threatened and endangered antelope and abundant birdlife.

 

Ezulwini Valley

Birding Attractions

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary (over 220 species)

Southern Bald Ibis, African Black Duck, Secretarybird, African Crowned Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Shelley’s Francolin, Crested Guineafowl, Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, African Wood-Owl, Marsh Owl, African Black Swift, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Red-throated Wryneck, Broad-tailed Warbler.

Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve

Nestled in the dramatic mountain landscape of north-west eSwatini, amid tumbling waterfalls and lush natural forests. The Reserve falls within the Barberton Centre of Plant Endemism and protects the rich biodiversity of the increasingly threatened middleveld habitat. Besides its rich botanical diversity, the 600-ha reserve is home to a remarkable 240 species of birds and some of the world’s most interesting geological features.

Accommodation is in luxury safari tents, nestled in the riverine forest with their own private balcony, overlooking the river. A network of walkways leads one from the accommodation through water gardens which merge with the river’s edge onto a spectacular display of one of the world’s oldest rock formations (3.6 billion years).

Birding Attractions (over 240 species)

African Crowned Eagle, African Wood-Owl, African Black Swift, Black Saw-wing, Lemon Dove, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, Eastern Nicator, Chorister Robin-Chat, Mountain Wagtail, Cape Batis, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Olive Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling, Pink-throated Twinspot, Green Twinspot, African Golden Weaver, Swee Waxbill, Olive Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird.

Malolotja Nature Reserve

Situated on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment in the northwest of eSwatini.  The Malolotja River rises in the east of the reserve and meanders its way through some fragile highveld bog systems before tumbling over numerous waterfalls, including eSwatini’s highest waterfall, the Malolotja Falls, and cutting its way through a steep sided gorge to meet the Nkomati River, some 900 m below. Montane grassland covers much of the reserve. 

Malolotja

Mist belt and riverine forests, gorges and rocky slopes and wetlands in the form of vleis and dams are other interesting habitats found in the reserve. The grassland at this time of year is full of spring flowers, with different species coming into flower, causing the colours to change every couple of weeks.

Accommodation is in comfortable log cabins, overlooking a grassy drainage line.

Birding Attractions (over 280 species)

Secretary Bird, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Swallow, Black-winged Lapwing, Red-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Kurrichane Buttonquail, Plain-backed Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Red-throated Wryneck, Cape Grassbird, Buff-streaked Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Wailing Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Drakensberg Prinia.

Mbuluzi Game Reserve

Tucked against the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains in north eastern eSwatini. With its marvellous diversity of habitats and superb accommodation, Mbuluzi is a true jewel in the crown of the Swaziland kingdom.  Bound by the Mbuluzi River and the Lebombo mountains, Mbuluzi includes riverine forests, rocky krantzes, deciduous thickets, knobthorn savannah, acacia thornveld and open grasslands.

Accommodation is in a superb private lodge, situated in silent isolation alongside the Mbulizi riverbed with large trees and palms.

Birding Attractions: (over 350 species)

Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, European Honey-Buzzard, African Cuckoo Hawk, African Goshawk, Eurasian Hobby, Black-bellied Bustard, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Senegal Lapwing, Bronze-winged Courser, Crested Guineafowl, African Finfoot (a garden bird), Tambourine Dove, Eastern Nicator, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird, Half-collared Kingfisher, Red-faced Cisticola, Purple-banded Sunbird, Grey Sunbird, Pink-throated Twinspot, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Grey Penduline-Tit.

The 8-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive Microbus.

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : February 5, 2021

Johannesburg–Reilly’s Rock

Depart bright and early. After birding en route, arrive at Mlilwane early afternoon. Afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle. Overnight at Reilly’s Rock, Mlilwane Nature Reserve.

Day 2

Date : February 6, 2021

Reilly’s Rock–Malolotja

Early morning birding and game viewing in Mlilwane. Depart after brunch for Malolotja Nature Reserve, birding en route. Afternoon birding and overnight in Malolotja Nature Reserve.

Day 3

Date : February 7, 2021

Malolotja-Mbuluzi

Morning birding in Malolotja. After brunch head for Mbuluzi Game Reserve. Afternoon birding and overnight at Mbuluzi.

Day 4

Date : February 8, 2022

Mbuluzi

During our stay, we may visit the adjacent Mlawula Nature Reserve and Hlane Game Reserve where big game including Elephant and White Rhino may be seen. A visit to a high-altitude wetland nearby may yield interesting rallids and waders. Overnight in Mbuluzi.

Day 5

Date : February 9, 2021

Mbuluzi

Another full day of birding and relaxing in Mbuluzi.

Day 6

Date : February 10, 2021

Mbuluzi-Phophonyane Falls

Early morning birding around lodge. Depart for Phophonyane Falls after brunch. Arrive mid-afternoon and overnight in Phophonyane Falls.

Day 7

Date : February 11, 2021

Phophonyane Falls

Day spent birding and relaxing at Phophonyane Falls. Overnight at Phophonyane Falls.

Day 8

Date : February 12, 2021

Departure

Depart Phophonyane Falls after breakfast and return to the concrete jungle.

Includes

Transport, all meals and accommodation, guiding and entrance fees.

Excludes

Alcoholic beverages, gratuities and items of a personal nature.