Eswatini

Eswatini formerly known as Swaziland is a small land with very big horizons. From the muscular uplands of the western highveld to the wild ridges of the eastern Lubombos, there is no bend in the road that does not offer another impressive vista. Its landscapes take you by surprise.

The kingdom appears a mere postage stamp on the map, yet step inside and you’ll find vast, rugged panoramas stretching away to every horizon. It owes this dramatic topography to its location, perched on southern Africa’s eastern escarpment, where the central plateau slopes away east towards the Indian Ocean.

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The country falls into four distinct topographic regions. The western ‘highveld’ is a land of hills, waterfalls and ancient rock, with a moist, temperate climate. Mbabane, the capital, is located here, as is Eswatini’s most impressive nature reserve, Malolotja.

Descending eastwards, the undulating middleveld is Eswatini’s agricultural and cultural heartland and home to Manzini, its second largest town. Further east still, you reach the hot, dry lowveld, where the wild bush harbours Eswatini’s major game reserves.

Finally, along the eastern border with Mozambique, stands a rugged line of volcanic hills known as the Lubombos (pictured), home to remote communities and rare wildlife. Eswatini’s rivers, including the Great Usuthu, the Nkomati and the Mbuluzi, all flow east from the highlands towards the Indian Ocean. Their wild gorges offer a siren call to any hiker who yearns to feel this wild land beneath their feet.

With statuesque rock formations, picturesque villages and wide meandering rivers to fill the viewfinder, the photographer is spoilt for choice. The light is constantly changing, especially during the rainy season, when towering thunderheads pile up into menacing storm clouds, and then after the downpour, leave the sky a pristine blue. Any visitor to the Kingdom could do worse than simply wander the hills and valleys and enjoy the ever-changing views of beautiful scenery and genuine wilderness.

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