Malolotja Reserve is the last unspoilt mountain wilderness in the kingdom of Swaziland and it ranks as one of the highest reserves in Southern Africa when altitude is taken into consideration.
Ngwenya Mountain at 1829m (6000ft) is the second highest peak in the country and the Nkomati River Valley, also found in the reserve, is 640m above sea level so there is a large range in altitude. The reserve is situated in the north-west of Swaziland and extends for over 1800 hectares.
Although this reserve is a lot more suited to day walks and backpacking there is a small network of roads of about 30km (18.6 miles) in total that can be self driven but it will only take you approximately two and a half hours to cover them all and that includes stopping time for looking at the animals and the magnificent scenery at the lookout points.
All the roads are gravel, in good enough condition to be driven by a normal sedan vehicle and occur mostly in the southern and eastern portion of the park. If you want to explore other areas you can do so on foot.
You will find detailed booking, rates, trail and general Swaziland information in the 248 page guide your own safari ebook that I have written to help you plan a self drive in Swaziland.
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Game viewing is good here all year round but the climate is more comfortable at certain times than others. Due to the high altitude of the reserve, winters can be downright chilly with the average daily temperature hovering around 11°C (52°F) and below freezing at night. If you don’t like the cold, midwinter might not be the best time to enjoy a visit here.
In summer the average temperature is 18°C (64°F), still not hot by African standards but with a high relative humidity of about 85%. Summer is also the time when most of the rains fall averaging about 1150mm (45") per annum. So if you visit in summer you will have to contend with some rainfall which might put a bit of a damper on your trip. The very best time to visit, in light of the climate, is towards the end of winter from September to December.
The southern part of the reserve was the location of massive iron-ore mining operations in the 1960s and this is where the oldest known mine is also situated. At the "Lion Cavern" on Ngwenya Mountain there is evidence that indigenous tribes were mining haematite and specularite over 40 000 years ago.
The Swaziland National Trust was formed in the 1970s with the task of identifying natural areas in Swaziland worthy of protection and the Malolotja region gained precedence. The area was being extensively used for sheep grazing and there were some families in residence but they were resettled on good agricultural adjacent land to make way for the proclamation of the reseve.