- Explore the diverse regions of this amazing country
- Experience some fantastic ‘off the beaten path’ cycling
- Stay in amazing accommodation, full of character
- Discover an incredible range of wildlife
- Sample a wide range of great local food
- Get to know the super-friendly local people
The first glimpse of a White Rhino. Towers of giraffe elegantly nibbling away at the trees. A yawning hippo. The grace of the African elephant. The icing on the cake and a moment of happy tears – being up close to a pride of Lion after the beauty of an African sunset.
Our overland journey to Swaziland is about 5 hours. Luckily on route, we’ve got a great stop off planned, so we can grab some lunch and give our legs a bit of a stretch. Alzu Petroport is situated halfway between Johannesburg and Swaziland, and is a perfect place for a break. The restaurant is situated on a high ridge and overlooks an extensive game enclosure housing rhino, buffalo, eland, blesbok, ostrich and even an emu or two.
After the border post formalities, we’ll continue on to the Swazi Highlands where we’ll check in to the thatched lodges of the Hawane Resort. We’ll get the bikes set-up in the afternoon and then can relax and take in some amazing views.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today is the perfect introduction to Swaziland and to this trip. After a leisurely breakfast in Hawane’s thatched dining room, we’ll then hop into the minibus, in our cycling gear, for the short transfer to Ngwenya Glass.
Ngwenya Glass has been making glassware in Swaziland since 1987. The business employs and trains local people and is the only glass-blowing factory in the whole of Africa. They only use recycled glass and every piece that they create is hand-made and mouth-blown. The owners of the business are keen cyclists and every year put on the Ngwenya Glass Challenge – a single day mountain bike event in the surrounding hills.
Although the race only happens once a year, we’re able to access some of the gentler trails which form part of the event and which are located in the hills and meadows which surround the factory. Our route takes us down into the Hawane Valley before heading west into the Motshane Valley. The trails are initially a mix of gravel 4×4 tracks and cattle paths. We’ll head past a number of local homesteads where we’ll get a real insight into the agrarian nature of the area. Later into the ride we pick up a former railway, now turned into a cycling/walking trail and climb on a gentle gradient up into the Montigny Forest. En-route we will stock up on some snacks and regular refreshments as we push on to our overnight accommodation. Suitably replenished we continue our journey, using a network of quiet forest roads before arriving at our accommodation, a beautiful lodge set deep in the forest with views out over landscaped gardens and the wooded hills beyond. None of the riding is technically demanding and the route will be the perfect introduction to our cycling in Swaziland.
Tonight we will eat in style; the Foresters Arms has a well-deserved reputation for the amazing quality of their food. After dinner, there is the chance to kick back and relax in their colonial themed bar, complete with original parquet flooring and comfy wicker armchairs.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After a long ride yesterday, waking up at Foresters Arms, in one of the highest points in Eswatini is comforting. Foresters Arms was built as a bar/lounge in 1955/6 to serve a farming community and the hotel has since grown around it organically. The owner, who has been there since the mid 1980s, has imbued the place with a very particular charm. Today the hotel is deservedly popular for its excellent cuisine, with home-baking, fresh farm produce and a menu full of surprises. Equally seductive are the cosy interiors, complete with log fires, deep armchairs and piles of Sunday papers.
After a leisurely start, we join the team in the lodge restaurant for a delectable breakfast. Today we will explore the forestry area of Mhlambanyatsi. A combination of single track and forestry roads lead us through existing communities and old ruins from the Colonial era. The riding today is mostly relaxed, with a few cheeky climbs. We then return back to the lodge for a late lunch before relaxing for the afternoon and taking in all that the Foresters tranquillity has to offer. Dinner will be served at the restaurant.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
After a hearty breakfast, our ride today will be pre-dominantly downhill. We’ll set off first on a series of forest roads, initially heading through the village of Mhlambayatsi, before winding our way down through the forest into the Ezulwini Valley. We’re going to be descending from our overnight accommodation located at 1300m down to 450m.
Our destination for the morning ride is Swazi Candles, a fairtrade producer of local crafts including candles, soap, embroidery and woodcraft. We’ll enjoy lunch under their Jackleberry trees, while watching the Swazi artists crafting their masterpieces.
After lunch we’ll pack the bikes onto our trailer and hop into the minibus for the transfer to our overnight destination. On entering the Mlilwane Game Reserve we will have the chance to view zebra, blesbok, impala, warthog, Steenbok, Grey Duiker, Red Duiker, Nyala, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Oribi, Suni, Hippo and maybe a crocodile or two!
After checking in it’s time to enjoy a sundowner at the Hippo Haunt Restaurant overlooking the water hole at Mlilwane. Tonight’s accommodation are peaceful, detached beehive style rooms with thatched roofs.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
Today we’ve got a mix of riding and cultural activities to give you a bit of a break from cycling. We start off with a buffet-style breakfast overlooking the Mlilwane water hole, before taking to the bikes to explore the network of smooth dirt roads and gentle singletrack that liberally cover the Mlilwane Game Reserve. There’s a great chance to spot wildlife during our ride and plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos.
After a chance to shower and grab lunch at the Hippo Haunt restaurant, we’ll hop in the minibus and drive to the nearby Ezulwini Valley where we’ll get to explore the beautiful Mantenga village and watch a cultural show.
After our visit, we’ll head back to Mlilwane where you’ll have a chance to relax before dinner. There’s likely to be a traditional Swazi dancing display for your entertainment in the evening too.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today there’s a chance for an optional early morning ride on the dirt roads in the reserve before breakfast after which we say good-bye to Mlilwane and head east in our minibus to the Mkhaya Game Reserve, in time for a 10am check-in.
Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife. Travel within the reserve is in open Land Rovers or on foot with highly skilled and knowledgeable guides, providing superb photographic opportunities and probably the best chance of seeing Black Rhino in the wild in Africa today.
At the heart of their bush camp is a giant Sausage Tree, Kigelia Africana, believed to be centuries old. Tonight’s accommodation is pretty special – we’ll be staying in luxury en-suite thatched stone cottages, whose big selling point is their open sides! At night, you’ll sleep under a four poster bed complete with its own giant mosquito net to keep any bugs out, but the open-sided nature of the cottages means that you’ll be able to get as close to the local wildlife as is possible to imagine. Don’t worry though, it’s perfectly safe – the larger animals in the reserve such as the Black Rhino are kept safely in a different part of the reserve.
During our stay at Mkhaya we’ll have the chance to explore the reserve both by Land Rover and on foot, with the amazing local guides, who will do their best to show you the finest wildlife that they have to offer. In the evening, we’ll eat together in the amazing thatched dining room, located at the centre of the camp under their giant Sausage Tree.
We’d recommend packing an overnight bag for your stay at Mkhaya.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After a sunrise game view, we’ll head back to camp for breakfast and then pack up and check out. Our next destination is the Mbuluzi Game reserve, a 2350 hectare (roughly 6000 acre) private game reserve, situated on the banks of the Mbuluzi and Mlawula rivers. Our journey time is roughly 90 minutes, of which the last 30 minutes is on a dirt road through the indigenous forest. On arrival, we’ll check into our comfortable accommodation. We will be staying in individual permanent tents or chalets with solid floors, en-suite bathrooms and electricity. Each tent / Chalet comes with an additional private outdoor shower for you to experience if you’re feeling adventurous. We’ll get the bikes unpacked and set-up and then after a light lunch we’ll head out to experience some of the amazing jeep tracks and well-manicured singletrack trails that the reserve boasts.
The reserve is home to Giraffe, Impala and Wildebeest and with our knowledgeable local guide, we’ll do our best to spot some wildlife during out ride. Towards the end of the afternoon we’ll head for a highpoint of the Magadzavane Lodge in the Mlawula Nature Reserve for sundowners overlooking the Swaziland Lowveld before heading back to our camp for dinner.
Dinner will be provided by our own private chef who will make the most of the BBQ facilities at the camp and provide us with an amazing dinner under the stars.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After a relaxed breakfast we’ll take to our bikes and explore some more of the amazing trail network in the Mbuluzi Reserve, spotting wildlife along the way.
After lunch we’ll get back on the bikes and head west on a mix of forest trails and dirt roads towards the Tambankulu Sugar Cane Estate, a chance to get an inside view into this important Swaziland industry. If we‘re lucky we may be able to watch a sugar cane burning!
We’ll stay overnight tonight in Mbuluzi.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
We finish our amazing journey through Swaziland on a high note, with a visit to the Hlane Royal National Park conserves vast natural resources and holds deep royal and cultural significance and is home to Swaziland’s largest herds of game.
We set off after breakfast from Tambankulu and ride on a mix of dirt roads and agricultural tracks through the sugar cane plantations and on to Hlane. After arriving and checking in, we’ll have lunch in their beautiful thatched open-sided restaurant which overlooks their watering hole.
We’ll have a few hours to relax and enjoy the view in the afternoon before ending the day with a 2.5-hour sunset game drive in search of one of the big five – stopping to enjoy the sunset with a cool drink in a beautiful spot.
Our accommodation for the night are beautiful beehive lodges with thatched roofs and four poster beds. As Hlane is set in a very rural location, the lodges are lit with paraffin lanterns rather than with electirc lighting. At night as you lie in bed, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the road of lions in the nearby reserve – an amazing way to finish a brilliant trip.
- Meals: Breakfast
We wake up at leisure, take breakfast overlooking the watering hole and once we’re all packed up, set off on our journey back to Johannesburg and en route to the Oshoek Border Post make a quick stop off at Ngwenya Glass to pick up any souvenirs.
Once we’re through the border and back into South Africa, we continue to Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport (JNB) in time for evening onward connections.
This trip encapsulates the incredible variety of scenery that you will find in Swaziland. The first few days we will be riding in the mountainous area in the west, then descending to the lower hills of the Middleveld, before finishing the trip in the lowlands of the east. The riding will include a real mix of surfaces too – everything from quiet tarmac roads, to vehicle width forest roads to singletrack across grassland meadows.
The distances and the terrain are not super challenging and while not all of the riding is completely smooth, there is nothing too technically demanding on our chosen routes either. A lot of the routes are vehicle supported, so if you decide you (or your legs) need a rest, then you will be able to hop into the vehicle if you wish.
Cycling Adventures Grade
Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day
For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness
May include some steeper, cheeky climbs
Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 holiday to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.
Cycling through the villages proved to be one of the best ways to experience this country. It allows you to get close to the people, get a glimpse of their hospitality, their everyday life, their lifestyle. Would I do it again? In a flash.
Dates & Prices
Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.
A) Accommodation (shared twin rooms) in a range of accommodation
B) Meals as the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle (where possible) and luggage transfers
F) Entrance fees for all the visits mentioned in the program
F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Johannesburg Airport (JNB)
G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Johannesburg airport (JNB)
What's not Included
A) Bike rental (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Single room (available if required)
E) Travel insurance
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)
H) Any optional tours mentioned in the itinerary
I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
10 breathtaking sights
Beautiful world! We wanted to share the list of sights we’re very excited for you to see from the saddle with us…
Customer Story: Swaziland
Exploring the wildlife of this incredible country.
Long-haul travel: our top tips
Here's to exploring more of our beautiful and diverse world!
Samantha, NewcastleA moment of happy tears...
A warm, smiling welcome everywhere we went, this off road biking experience through beautiful landscape was what I had hoped the trip would be and so much more.
With cheeky climbs and even cheekier Sibebe beer, community projects that you can learn about and support, soothing beats of the African drum and emotional harmonies after dark, seeing shooting stars almost without trying, the sky was so dark and unspoilt, before retiring to your luxury hut, open to the elements, no electricity and with a whistle to blow if you happen to be visited by hyena! Going to bed wondering how the next day was going to top the day’s experience then being pleasantly blown away by another amazing day.
Steady winding uphill through beautiful forest, cycling towards the reward of seeing breath taking views through watering eyes on the fast downhill to the mid velt. Cycling through fields of Zebra, Nyala, Impala and Wildebeest – trying not to cycle on dung beetles! Warthogs sharing the roaring camp fire that had been burning for over 60 years
The first glimpse of a White Rhino. Towers of giraffe elegantly nibbling away at the trees. A yawning hippo. The grace of the African elephant. And for me, the icing on the cake and a moment of happy tears – being up close to a pride of Lion after the beauty of an African sunset.
I could go on but I’m not sure you need anymore. Thanks again Skedaddle, that, for me, was Africa!
Denise, Trinidad and TobagoWould I do it again? In a flash.
The first days took us cycling through undulating paths in and around the Mlilwanee Wildlife Sanctuary getting a close look at nature at its best. Magnificent vistas in the Sanctuary, ‘close’ encounters with ‘wild’ animals, peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. As we ambled through the rocky terrain, the animals seemed to appear one by one, as if on cue. At all times however, our guides taking us carefully through the reserve and stopping at certain vantage points, allowing us time to experience the closeness of these wild animals. Who would have thought it possible to cycle such a sacred space with extraordinary animals and be totally at peace. An amazing and humbling experience.
Then meandering through the neighbouring villages, greeting the locals (happy to have us experience their world) waving, smiling at us as we pass by. Cycling through the villages proved to be one of the best ways to experience this country. It allows you to get close to the people, get a glimpse of their hospitality, their everyday life, their lifestyle. Would I do it again? In a flash.
Jean and Peter, HampshireVery good overview of Swaziland!
We always have an excellent service from Skedaddle. We are not into luxury accommodation, so the variety of accommodation helped make the holiday great. We loved the Beehives, Foresters and the stone house particularly. The cycling experience was so varied and we were both learning about the bikes (neither of us had ever ridden a mountain bike before the holiday) – we were happy with each day! Our tour leader went out his way to ensure that everyone enjoyed the holiday, and made sure we all were hydrated and had plenty of snacks to keep us going. An excellent leader. Both our drivers were also excellent. They helped us all and were always there when needed. The office answered every question asked and kept in touch, and the variety of cycling and game drives gave us a very good overview of Swaziland.
David, CanadaCannot recommend highly enough.
Great blend of touring, cycling (easy to mild technical), cultural experiences and varied geography. The accommodation was always comfortable with hot water and good food. More rustic accommodation made for a great experience and the open air at Mkhaya Stone Camp was unforgettable. Riding was as expected and described – favourite day was probably the climb to, and descent from, Executioners Rock. I hired a bike and we had good equipment appropriate for ride and conditions. Our tour leader was completely calm throughout. Despite a few unexpected weather related and catering hiccups he was utterly professional and always composed. Cannot recommend highly enough. We had two excellent local drivers too. I have recommended Skedaddle to multiple friends over the years and will continue to do so.
Mark, EdinburghThe cycling was really good...
All ran very smoothly, location and guides were excellent. Nice variety of different types of accommodation and all were clean and well maintained. The cycling was really good, made very enjoyable by our tour leader and his team.
John, SurreyExcellent holiday!
Chris was a wonderful guide, very knowledgeable about fauna and flora, as well as geography, history, people, activities, and cycling in the area. He was also very considerate about our wishes and preferences, and altogether very pleasant company.