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Mountain Biking in Mlilwane

Posted on: Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Blog Category: Activities

'Mountain Biking in Swaziland', by Jenny Bowen (Sense Africa)

“Lets take the bikes out for an hour and see how it goes”, I suggested. I thought maybe we might be out for two.

Bernie thought that was a great idea and we got ourselves sorted and set off into Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland. We didn’t have a set route, although I know Mlilwane like the back of my hand, we decided to just take things as they come. It was a beautiful day and I did wonder whether I would be able to survive the pace, from what I had gathered Bernie loved exercise and I hoped that I would not be bleeding out of my eye sockets by the end of the excursion.

Luckily this was not the case, we both were interested in the surrounding wildlife and kept stopping to spot birds in the trees and wildlife in the distance, it was Bernie’s first full day in Swaziland. It was lovely spending time with somebody who was so enthusiastic about wildlife, although we both agreed that it was quite exhausting all this stopping and starting – it was amazing what we saw.

After an hour we had only covered about 6km but we had seen a magnificent kudu bull (and got lots of photos of him), spotted a dazzle of zebra and loads of wildebeest, checked the river for crocs, seen hippo lazing the bank of the dam, picked up poo to identify it and got stuck in a bog.

We were having a wonderful time.

As we were having such a great time we decided to stay out longer and visit Reilly’s Rock. Reilly’s Rock is an exclusive lodge in Mlilwane, perched on top of a rocky outcrop and is the original farmhouse for the area. A couple of decades ago it was converted into an exclusive lodge and the views from the top are absolutely stunning. Half way up there I was debating whether this was one of my more foolhardy ideas as we had drunk all our water. I thought that one of us might get mild heat exhaustion… But the sighting of a large tortoise made me forget this and also lots of waterbuck on the horizon posing for us splendidly.

Eventually we crawled into Reillys Rock, both of us having resorted to pushing our bikes by this time, where Ruth warmly welcomed us with a drink on the veranda. And I also managed to replenish our water bottles. After a well earned sit by the bird table, watching the plethora of weaver birds feeding, we made the most of the freewheeling down the hill towards our accommodation in main camp. Large miles on your faces.

We had been out for four hours and had not bumped into anyone else apart from Ruth. This is the absolute joy of getting off the beaten track and Mlilwane is the ideal place to do this. In fact you this is what the whole of Swaziland is like. I think the guides at the activity centre were rather surprised as to how long we’d been out – in that space of time we could probably have cycled to one of the border posts!

I doubt many people who take out mountain bikes for four hours cover so little distance, but we had had an absolutely fantastic time. Thoroughly recommended.

Original Article at Jenny's Blog - Sense Africa

 

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