(Malolotja Nature Reserve Part 2)

October 2018

Unforgettable views over majestic mountains is what makes Malolotja special.

Last week, after crossing the border into eSwatini, we briefly visited the southern tip of the Malolotja Nature Reserve and the nearby village of Ngwenya, but the true beauty of Malolotja lies a bit further north and that’s where we’re headed this time.

Malolotja landscape.

Malolotja is truly a gem of a reserve. Varying in altitude from the peak of Ngwenya Mountain at 1829m down to the Komati River at 640m it’s home to spectacular scenery, varied vegetation and, due to the absence of dangerous animals, a safe environment for enjoying nature on foot.

I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves:

Near the main entrance a small stream flows through
the grassy landscape, feeding into Mortimer’s Dam.
Mortimer’s Dam is a short walk from the campsite.
The surrounding grassland is a haven for birdlife.

Fragile highveld bog systems flowing down into steep mountain gorges made the area unsuitable for agriculture, but perfect for preservation as a nature reserve.

Lovely views from near the main camp.
A large variety of flowers can be found amongst the grasses.
The vegetation on the higher areas is largely open grasslands.
Wildlife in the reserve is easy to spot thanks to the wide open grasslands.
A 4×4 track leads northwards, ending with spectacular views over the Komati River valley.
Misty clouds float over the Komati River Valley in the distance with the ancient Bulembu Mountains in the background.
At the end of the 4×4 trail, dense mist hid the views. I decided to wait and soon the clouds lifted…
… as the view was briefly exposed, the Nkomati River can be seen in the valley below.

The Komati River begins its journey near Carolina in Mpumalanga’s Lake District. Flowing eastwards, it enters eSwatini here at Malolotja, flowing through the country and back into South Africa. Near Komatipoort it is joined by the Crocodile River. From here it enters Mozambique where it finally reaches the Indian Ocean at the Bay of Maputo.


Accommodation in Malolotja

The campsite nestles in a shallow dale. The surrounding open grassland is perfect grazing for wildlife and many animals wander by.

Under the management of the eSwatini National Trust Commission, Malolotja offers visitors the choice of comfortable cabins or a rustic campsite. The first time I visited Malolotja a few years earlier, we stayed in the cozy cabins and enjoyed the warm fire keeping out the unexpected high-altitude cold.

Cabins offer a cozy and affordable alternative to camping.
Rustic camping in a perfect setting.

This time I pitched my tent in the campsite and enjoyed the lovely setting accompanied by birdsong.

The campsites are basic and some are rather small but all are level and the the lack of electricity makes for a true bush-camp experience. The ablutions are old but clean and Dennis, the amiable camp attendant makes a roaring fire to heat the water every evening. Early in the morning he is back and stokes the embers for those who prefer a morning shower.

At the main reception there is a comfortable lounge area and a restaurant serving delicious breakfasts and light lunches. Gas heaters provided a welcome escape from the cold and rainy weather down at the campsite.

The restaurant serves delicious food.

From Malolotja, a short drive northwards will take you to Maguga Dam

Maguga Dam

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