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Eco Trails initiative to benefit the environment and local communities

Eco Trails initiative to benefit the environment and local communities

Four of Swaziland’s top attractions and tourism providers have come together in a project dedicated to making the Lubombo Mountains more accessible for those who wish visit

This region of Swaziland is one of the most breathtaking expanses of natural beauty in the country, with each corner providing a new view and a different perspective on this extensive area.

The Lubombo Eco Trails programme is developing a network of trails which will open this spectacular and little-known region to those seeking genuine adventure and a rich ecological and cultural experience. The trails will link communities in Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa, and offer a variety of products, from challenging hiking and mountain bike trails, to rugged 4×4 routes, river rafting and canoeing. The Eco Trails are being designed to bring maximum benefits to the environment and to local communities.

The impressive landscapes of the Lubombo Mountains are shared by Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa along a narrow range about 800km in length, with an average elevation of 600 metres. The region is a recognised global biodiversity hotspot. Its high diversity of flora and fauna can be attributed to its elevation within a transitional zone between two biogeographic regions: the dry thorn savannas of the west, and the moister coastal thickets of the east. Birdlife is exceptional, with more than 350 species recorded in Mlawula Nature Reserve alone. Densely forested gorges and ravines, open broadleaf savanna and vast panoramic views characterise the scenic landscape. The region has a rich history and the vitality of traditional culture continues to be reflected in the daily lives of its warm and friendly inhabitants.

The implementation of the Eco Trails initiative will take place in phases. Currently three trails are set up and running. The Mhlumeni-Goba  features the Goba community located 60km west of Maputa, and offers the opportunity to explore this 9,000-year-old conservation area, The Muti Muti Conservancy includes 2000ha of mountain forests and open savannah, and the Manzimnyama Landscape is a legendary conservation project with its attractive open grassland, vast plateau and Mnyame River which has carved a path through the landscape.

The initiative has been set up by a collaboration of partners, including Shewlua Mountain Camp, Mbuluzi Game Reserve, All Out Africa, and Mlawula Nature Reserve. The eco trails are designed to benefit the communities, but there is little doubt of the huge and rewarding experience visitors to the area and trails will receive.

For more information and to download the Lubombo Eco Trails leaflet visit www.thekingdomofswaziland.com

Images: Adventure cyclists cross the Mbulizi, one of the main rivers of Swaziland; Goba pool; Rhino at Hlane dam, South Africa; Chalet at Magadzavane Lodge, Swaziland; Mlawula Nature Reserve; Nyala Antelope at Mlawula Nature Reserve; Shewula women musicians (The Shewula Mountain Camp is the first community eco-tourism project in Swaziland and one of the most successful in the whole of southern Africa); Siphiso Campsite in Mlawula Nature Reserve, Swaziland

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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