Activities available in Ngwenya Mine / Lion Cavern

Region: Hhohho
Attraction Type: Landscape/Scenic, Culture/People


Ngwenya Mine / Lion Cavern

A visit to Ngwenya Mine, in the southern end of Malolotja Nature Reserves can include viewing Lion Cavern, the dramatic views of Ngwenya Iron Ore Mine, and an informative browse through the Visitor Centre. There are also spectacular views of the Ngwenya valley and across the border into South Africa.

Lion Cavern, situated at Ngwenya mine is the oldest mine in the world. Man first began chipping away at the iron ore of Ngwenya mountain over 43,000 years ago. The more modern mining of Ngwenya Mine was carried out from 1958 until 1979, in the form of open cast mining creating the dramatic mine pit currently still visible.

The word Ngwenya is siSwati for crocodile and the mountain does resemble a huge basking reptile.

Access to the mine is via road entering through the southern-most part of Malolotja Nature Reserve (nominal fees apply). A T-junction separates the visitor’s centre and Lion Cavern itself. Go to the visitor’s centre first and wait for a guide as access to the mine is by only accessible as part of a guided tour. Tours are available from 08:00 – 16:00 and visitors may have to wait for a guide to finish with one party before being able to enter themselves. The walk up to the cavern is quite steep yet well-maintained with stepped walkways over rocky sections.

Visitors can also explore the mine museum built on the lip of the huge excavation pit. The interpretive centre has a wealth of information about the mine’s history along with ancient artefacts and several examples of old-fashioned mining equipment.