The Natural History Society of Swaziland monthly walk today started at Mbangweni, just outside Mbabane. Farmers are burning off the parched grasslands at the moment. The smoke causes a hazy pall to hang over the horizon, so the initial views were rather spoiled. When we descended into the valleys, the sky above us was a beautiful shade of blue, clear apart from a few whisps of high cloud.
We climbed to Mhlophe on the ridge (1530m above sea level). From here we could see one of the Royal Palaces, Mpolonjeni. It looked like a post-modern factory building.
Most of the highveld dried grass had been burned off, to encourage new growth. This made walking dusty and dirty. Walking in shorts, my legs were filthy by the end.
From the ridge, we descended to Miller’s Falls where we had lunch. We ascended again and I could see the Mbuluzi River and the Sacred Pool. This pool supposedly contains a seven-headed monster, but it hasn’t been seen for a few years, so we felt safe. There were some impressive tree ferns which had escaped the ravages of the fires because the living part of the plant is up at the top. The tree trunks are dead and don’t burn very well. The first spring flowers were pushing through the charred grass. These are perpetual flowers.
Across the valley, we could see the Sibebe Massif, with eJubukweni way off on the horizon.
There were about thirty of us on the walk this morning, with varying levels of fitness, so we took plenty of rest breaks. The point of walking is the journey itself, not getting to the finish in the quickest time possible. It gave us more time to be aware of our surroundings.