Africa Travel Week

All the good news from the Kingdom of Eswatini

“We’ve been extremely busy and creative in our little Kingdom of Eswatini,” says Ann Reily, General Manager of Big Game Parks, an organisation that manages the country’s leading eco-tourism destinations: Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary & Mkhaya Game Reserve.

“The Kingdom of Eswatini’s Big Game Parks had our first cross border guest in 6 months!  Liesl Venter joined Chubeka Trails’ #RideForTourismEswatini from 2-6 October 2020. With borders having just re-opened on the 1 October.”

In more feel-good news, Ann also mentioned that Chubeka Trails rode 179km across Eswatini from Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary (Lobamba/Ezulwini) to Mabuda Guest Farm (Siteki, on the Lubombo Mountains). 

She says: “The idea was to raise funds for our horses, simultaneously showcasing our beautiful Kingdom, the amazing experiences that can be had, celebrate possibilities, inspire individuals and organisations to think out the box and to provide hope for everyone in Tourism.  We managed to raise local awareness of tourism as we went (fabulous local media coverage) and were endorsed by Eswatini Tourism Authority, HOTAES and sponsored data by MTN Eswatini. We also launched a crowdfunding page and invited people to support our trail horses through this time.

“The ride came about as an awareness ride for the first-ever Eswatini Adventure Weekend too!  We needed to get horses to the venue, so dreamed up #RideForTourismEswatini – and wow, it certainly brought attention!  The weekend was sadly rained out, but the amazing people who joined us had such a fabulous time and cannot wait for the next one.  Eswatini Adventure Weekends is a series of multi-sport adventure weekends inspired by COVID-19 in celebration of health and outdoor adventures – this one to promote local tourism, but in future to really promote local and regional tourism.  We believe this concept will fly!”

Big Game Parks has also embraced COVID-19 by creating new products, inspiring local travel and keeping hope alive in our staff.  Their new products include:

Moonlight Moments Series 

Guided walks & drives on Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Mkhaya Game Reserve and KaMsholo Bushveld Safaris, followed by a potjie dinner and a moonlight horse trail too.  As Ann explains, this series has become extremely popular.

Nature Based Activities 

To boost local tourism, Ann adds that they dropped to rock bottom rates and have since seen a wonderful increase in local participation of game drives, game walks, mountain biking and even horse riding.  “We have noted a huge increase in hiking, as the trails are included in the nominal entry fee, and the mood is one of health and exercise – fabulous to see!”

Mkhaya Game Reserve 

A new shorter day tour was created for small family and friends groups, with great bush interpretation and hosting at the new Red Tiger Lodge.  This brought a new addition to Mkhaya which looks set to stay!

Fitness Rides 

Chubeka Trails opened up the fitness rides to local riders at rock bottom rates.  Many gained confidence in outdoor riding and got to enjoy trails on a new level.

Houndless Hunt

Chubeka Trails ran a typical Drag Hunt as a fundraiser on Mlilwane, a 12km canter track but without hounds and no hunt involved. “All participants were togged up in their show kit, the horses scrubbed up and he champagne tables manned.  Jumps were put out and we all had a ball!”

Ann concludes that they are also busy with new product development which will be shared on their social media for Big Game Parks, Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Mkhaya Game Reserve, Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge, Chubeka Trails and KaMsholo Bushveld Safaris.

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Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.