Attraction Type: Landscape/Scenic, Wildlife
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Malolotja Nature Reserve includes over 18 000 hectares of mountain wilderness in the north-west of Swaziland. The reserve provides protected wetland, woodland, highveld grassland and mistbelt forest habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal life.
Malolotja’s hiking trails rank among Southern Africa's finest as they offer not only the solace of true wilderness with magnificent rugged country, but also a fascinating variety of fauna and flora and much to interest the amateur geologist. There are approximately 200 km of hiking trails and seventeen backpacking camps which allow hikers to undertake wilderness trails from two to seven days in duration.
Malolotja is known for its wild flowers, including showy Brunsvigias, threatened species such as the Barberton and Kaapsehoop cycads, unusual species like Streptocarpus dunnii, and almost forty species of orchids. A visit in springtime offers the opportunity to see the display of spring flowers.
Malolotja has been recognised as one of southern Africa’s important bird areas, based on the significant number of threatened species recorded here. The reserve is particularly important for breeding groups of endangered species such as blue swallow, blue crane, bald ibis and Stanley’s bustard, and more than 280 species of birds have been recorded from the reserve, over half the number for Swaziland as a whole. You can download a comprehensive list of species living in the reserve by clicking here.
The reserve also provides important protected habitat for a variety of freshwater fish, including several regionally important species, such as the Incomati Rock Catlet, Pongola Rock Catlet, Southern Mouthbrooder and the Stargazer Mountain Catfish. The reserve is home to 25 species of amphibians and 66 species of reptiles, including the Swaziland endemic lizard, the Swazi thick-tailed rock gecko and two near endemics, the Barberton girdled lizard and the Swazi rock snake.
Malolotja has a great variety of small mammals, from rock hyraxes to shrews, and larger mammals include species such as serval and white-tailed mongoose, and antelope such as grey rhebok and oribi, as well as the more familiar zebras, blesbok, eland and wildebeest. The invertebrates are not well studied, but the area is rewarding to those with an interest in animals such as butterflies, moths and dragonflies.
Treetop Canopy Tours: Visitors can experience the thrill of gliding through the forest canopy within Malolotja Nature Reserve, the last mountain wilderness area in Swaziland. The canopy tour offers views of towering cliff faces and across the forest. Safety is paramount, and the system has been built to the highest civil engineering standards. Guides are trained professionals and this breath taking experience can be enjoyed by people of all ages.