Mlilwane Explorer

On this centre-based holiday, you will be riding in two different reserves looking for a variety of species and exploring unique sceneries in the Kingdom of Eswatini. Mlilwane’s diverse habitats support a surprisingly extensive species list, whilst KaMsholo is a nature-rich 700ha reserve, dominated by the Umbrella Tree. Aside from the nature and wildlife, you will be introduced to the Swazi culture, passing through rural Swazi communities and learning more about their way of life. This holiday is quite flexible which makes it ideal for people who might want an introduction to Africa before moving on to more challenging offers. The Mlilwane Explorer is also available with the option to camp for 2 nights – please contact us.
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Horseback Safari
10 days/6 days riding
From £1,060
Open to non-riders

From the horse’s mouth

  • Mlilwane Explorer
    August 2023 Emma Jane aged 30
    We had the absolute best time in Esawtini! I would recommend it to anyone thinking about going. Nothing was too much for any of the staff, we were treat like royalty. The horse guides were very knowledgable and would answer all questions asked. The food was also outstanding! I don’t know how we will top this trip of a... Read all

Itinerary

Highlights

- Ride across two reserves, Mlilwane and KaMsholo.
- Learn about the Swazi way of life and unique culture.
- Observe a wide variety of species including giraffe, wildebeest, impala, and many more!
- A sleep-out version of this trail is available for the more adventurous riders.
- Non-riders welcome - bring your non-riding friends and family to accompany you on this adventure.
  • Day 1 1: Home – Johannesburg

    Overnight flight to Johannesburg. Flights are not included, but can be booked on request

    Please make sure to book a flight that lands before 9am.
  • Day 2 2: Johannesburg – Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

    Upon arrival to Johannesburg, you will be transferred to Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary at 9am (5h drive).

    Arrive at the sanctuary early in the afternoon, where the local team will be waiting for you. You will have time to meet the horses and, if you wish, you may go on a hiking trail to get acquainted with the surrounding area. You will leave for a sundowner ride in the afternoon.

    Dinner and overnight at Lontweni Rondavels.

  • Day 3 3: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - 5 hours riding

    Today, you will set off on your first ride on the reserve where you will hopefully have the opportunity to see some game and get more comfortable on your mount. You will be riding along the water course where there are high chances to spot crocodile, hippo and a wide variety of water birds like the fish eagle. Before returning to camp for lunch, you will explore the eastern plains, home to wildebeest, impala, zebra, and many more. The afternoon ride will lead you to the western plains.

    Dinner and overnight at Lontweni Rondavels.
  • Day 4 4: Usushawana river - Approx. 5h riding

    After breakfast you will set off on a full day ride along the Usushawana river. You will witness beautiful landscapes along the way and perhaps even spot some wildlife.

    Dinner and overnight at Lontweni Rondavel.


    Sleep out version (5-6h riding)

    After preparing a small bag with overnight essentials, you will depart to sleep out. You will follow the Sanctuary and Community trail, riding along the beautiful landscapes of Eswatini.
  • Day 5 5: Specialty Ride - 4 hours riding

    Today you will be going on a specialty ride which might include a Poachers Breakfast, Hunt Ride, or a ride to a Community Craft Centre. In the afternoon you might relax by the pool, or read a book before departing on a sunset drive.

    Overnight at Lontweni Rondavels.


    Sleep out version (4-5h riding)

    Today, you will be exploring the mountains of Mlilwane North. Depending on the conditions, lunch can be packed or eaten back at Camp.
    Enjoy the last night sleeping under the stars.
  • Day 6 6: Manenga Viewpoint - 6 – 7 hours riding

    After breakfast, you will get on your horse and ride towards Manenga Viewpoint which will take your breath away with the landscapes it offers.
    The afternoon is spent at leisure and there will be a sundowner ride late in the afternoon.

    Dinner and overnight at Lontweni Rondavels.


    Sleep out version (4-5h riding)

    After an early breakfast, you will be riding back to the Rondavels. Riding through the sun-kissed landscapes of the sanctuary.
  • Day 7 7: KaMsholo - 5 - 6 hours riding

    Today you will set off on a morning ride before transferring to KaMsholo. Tucked under the Lubombo mountain, this reserve offers a totally different landscape with beautiful views. In the late afternoon, you will set off on a sunset ride to get to know your new horse.
    Overnight at KaMsholo Biushveld Safaris.

    Please note that today’s transfer isn’t included in the price.
  • Day 8 8: KaMsholo - 4 – 5 hours riding

    After breakfast you can try to help gather the local Ngunyi cattle. After having lunch, you can either go out on the afternoon ride which will be focused on tracking the giraffe, or if you would rather stay at camp, you may opt to relax by the pool.
    Overnight at KaMsholo Biushveld Safaris.
  • Day 9 9: Departure to Johannesburg - No riding

    After breakfast you will be transferred to Johannesburg airport (5 hour drive). Return flights should depart Johannesburg after 20:00 as delays at the border may happen.
  • Day 10 10: Home

    Arrival home.

Dates & prices

Price details

Please note that the following departures correspond to the sleep-out version of this trail:
- 1st of May
- 13th of May
- 11th of June
- 27th of June
- 29th of August

- Flights or transportation to your destination (international/domestic) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing accommodation.

- Groups are composed of a minimum of 2 international riders and a maximum of 10 riders plus guides.

- If would like to stay in a single room you will be charged an extra £75/€90/$100. On sleep-out departures, you will be charged an extra £80/€95/$105.

- The shuttle bus from Johannesburg to Mlilwane in Eswatini isn't included. It costs approx. £75/€90/$100, return rate. This shuttle takes 4 hours and your guides will pick you up from Mlilwane and transfer you to camp which takes an extra hour.
- Transfer on Day 7 (inter-park) isn’t included. This is paid locally upon arrival (by card or with South African Rands). The rate is shared between the guests.

1 guest = R1450 (approx. £65)
2 or more guests = R725 (approx. £35)
The above price is subject to change due to volatile gas prices.

- Conservation fees are not included in the price, and are charged separately (approx. £30/€35/$40).

- A sleep out version of this holiday is available. Instead of staying in the mentioned accommodations on day 4 and 5, you will be camping out. Please e-mail us to know more.

- Accompanied minors are welcome from 8 yo, provided they match the riding requirements.

- There is a rider weight limit of 85kg/ 13.4 stone / 187lbs.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Accommodation

Double bedroom/tent with bedding

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 2 to breakfast on day 9

Additional equipment

Saddle bags

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverages and personal extras

Transport

International flights
Airport shuttle
Possible plane departure fee (approx. E30)
Transfer on day 7 - please check "Dates & Prices"

Extras

Tips to the local team
Conservancy fees

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurance are not included in the above listed price. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked to cover you in case of cancellation
Visas and personal purchase

Optional

Accommodation

Single room/tent supplement
  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    07/03/2024 16/03/2024 £1,060 €1,219 $1,314
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    08/04/2024 17/04/2024 £1,060 €1,219 $1,314
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  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    01/05/2024 10/05/2024 £1,085 €1,248 $1,345
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    13/05/2024 22/05/2024 £1,085 €1,248 $1,345
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    11/06/2024 20/06/2024 £1,085 €1,248 $1,345
    Guaranteed departure
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    27/06/2024 06/07/2024 £1,085 €1,248 $1,345
    Guaranteed departure
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  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    29/08/2024 07/09/2024 £1,085 €1,248 $1,345
    Guaranteed departure
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  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    16/09/2024 25/09/2024 £1,060 €1,219 $1,314
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  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    05/12/2024 14/12/2024 £1,060 €1,219 $1,314
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Equestrian info

Horses

There is a herd of 50 horses which consists mainly of crossbreeds of Arab, Warmblood, Boerperd and Thoroughbred with some recent additions of Percheron, Friesian, Clydesdale and Shire crosses.

In height they range from 14.2hh to 16hh.

Guide & local team

This trail is managed by Ann Reilly, she has a immense love for the horses and joins the rides as much as she can.
All trails are led by Liswati Guides, they all have a passion for horses and tourists, and have been trained in field guiding, client care and first aid levels 1&2.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

To participate on this riding holiday, you must be an intermediate rider or above. You must be comfortable riding at all three paces and riding out in open spaces.

There is a rider weight limit of 85kg/ 13.4 stone / 187lbs.

Pace

Due to the steep terrain much of the riding will be slow, but there are also some opportunities for good canters. You might be asked to dismount due to the steepness of the terrain in some areas.

Please note that the pace can be adjusted according to the group’s riding ability.

Tacking ability and participation

You are welcome to help with camp chores and look after the horses.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

You must be comfortable riding outdoors to take part in this holiday. You should be fit enough to endure the long hours in the saddle

Equestrian equipment

Trail saddles with simple snaffle bridles and rope halters. Helmets are mandatory on this ride, we advise each rider to bring their own to ensure proper fit.
Saddle bags are provided.

Travel info

Comfort

Lontweni Rondavels offers accommodation in cottages that include en-suite bathrooms, kitchenette, and veranda overlooking the river valley.

KaMsholo Biushveld Safaris offers accommodation in cottages that include coffee station, basic kitchenette, and en-suite bathroom.


Sleep-out version - Fully supported camping with bell tents, tree showers and pit toilet. Please note that there is no electricity.

Meals

During the trails you will be served fresh fruit and vegetables. When possible, meals are all prepared over an open fire. Vegetarian diets can be accommodated as well as some other special requests, please inform us before booking.

Note: Vegan diets cannot be accommodated.

Climate

In the winter, the days are pleasantly warm, in the range 17 ºC to 25 ºC, ideal for riding. In the summer (November-March), temperature can easily go up to 30 ºC or even 40 ºC. There are high levels of humidity and rain is possible

Nights can be cold and in the mountains temperatures can drop sharply and frosts are not uncommon. Rain is unlikely in June and July, but possible in September.

Tips

Tipping in this region is usually around 10%. Tips are best paid in South African Rand.

Packing list

Please bring your own shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, …).
Head
- You will be required to wear a hard hat when riding and you should take your own to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana

Upper body
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and thorns
- T-shirts
- Fleece, jumper or jacket - the evenings can be cold, particularly May - October
- Waterproof jacket - the rains can be difficult to foresee and it's better to be prepared. Rain is more likely Oct-April
- Casual clothes for the evening

Legs
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Shorts for lazy lunchtimes
- Casual clothes for the evening

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps to protect against thorns. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged.
- Sandals, flip-flops or trainers for moving around the lodge and camp
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun whilst riding

Nightwear
- We recommend pieces that cover up your skin to lower the chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes.

Other useful items
- Binoculars for viewing game
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night

In your luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag. Some toiletries are provided by the camp so you can pack lighter.

In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat

Medical kit
- Sunscreen and lip balm - must be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Anti malarial tablets and Yellow Fever Certificate if required (check with your doctor)

Our Recommendations
- Take a second, smaller bag to pack things you may need during the day such as a book or suncream then you can easily access it during the long lunch break
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- You should also bring a copy of your passport/insurance in case you lose your documents. You can also save a copy into your mobile phone.
- You can bring pictures of your family and small gifts for your host family if you like.

Sustainable tourism

  1. Travel light. It's a little known fact, but the lighter you pack, the better for the environment as heavy bags will produce higher emissions (when flying a plane or driving a car!).
  2. Reduce plastic waste. Take your favorite reusable bottle with you. Avoid single-use bags, cups, or straws.
  3. Preserve nature. Always take your rubbish with you during the ride and recycle them. Leave all the flowers or plants as you found them, and never get too close when observing wildlife. Make sure to use eco-friendly products such as body wash or laundry detergent (if camping) to protect both your skin and the environment.
  4. Choose your experiences carefully. Respect animal life by not participating in any activities that abuse wild animals (shows, elephant rides, etc.).
  5. Support local populations. Buy local handicrafts, be respectful of customs, and learn about the culture of local communities.
  6. Share! Raise awareness among your family and friends about sustainable tourism.

For more information please see this page.

Did you know?

Did you know?

The traditional social unit of the Swazi people is the homestead, or kraal. The walls are made of mud, and the roof is made of grass or reeds thatched together. The kraal is usually home to a single family, and its layout and organization are made to help them go about their daily tasks.  The kraal usually has a central courtyard where cooking and other duties take place, as well as separate rooms for each generation of the family. The homestead also typically includes a cattle enclosure, as cattle play a central role in Swazi culture and economy. You will most likely see these during your riding holiday in Eswatini.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Emma Jane aged 30 DEWSBURY 2 trips
    August 2023
    We had the absolute best time in Esawtini! I would recommend it to anyone thinking about going. Nothing was too much for any of the staff, we were treat like royalty. The horse guides were very knowledgable and would answer all questions asked. The food was also outstanding! I don’t know how we will top this trip of a... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide