What you need to know about Sibebe
Sibebe is Located around 10km outside of Mbabane, and is the largest exposed granite pluton in the world. Although different in their geology, Sibebe is second only to Ayers Rock in Australia as the largest freestanding rock in the world.
The best view of Sibebe is experienced walking up it! There are several guided walking trails to take you to the summit. These range from the gruelling (steepest walk in the world) to much more gentle, slower ascents. Be aware that a walk to the top will take you to 800m and will average 2.5hrs for ascent and 1.5hrs for descent. On the way up or down you’ll be able to enjoy Sibebe’s incredible views and explore various caves, swimming holes and waterfalls.
At some 3 billion years old, Sibebe is more than three times as old as its Australian counterpart, but unlike Uluru attracting 500,000 visitors every year, it offers peace and solitude. Enjoy the unique plant and animal like, especially the birds and flowers, many of which are endemic to this region of Swaziland. Sibebe Rock is fast becoming a great destination for bird enthusiasts with species such as the globally threatened Blue Swallow, breeding pairs of which have been observed, and the Ground Woodpecker, among others.
Walking tours start from the visitor centre at Mbuluzi Gate which opens at 8:00 and cost around E30 per person. The tours are run by local community members as part of Swaziland’s Community Tourism Programme. Sibebe Rock trails is a community tourism initiative where tours and treks around and up Sibebe are run and led by members of local community. Sibebe Rock is just one of the community tourism projects in Swaziland.
The Mbabane-Mbuluzi Rotary Club organises an annual fund-raising walk up Sibebe Rock, called the Sibebe Survivor. Several thousand people take part each year. Sibebe also gives its name to a lager produced by Swaziland Beverages, called Sibebe Premium Lager.
Sibebe Premium Lager named after Sibebe
Hikers on the Sibebe Survivor walk
It is hard to appreciate the scale of Sibebe from below.
That’s partly because there is no single spot from which the whole rock is visible; and partly, also, because large areas of it are vegetated, with patches of grassy hillside and forested clefts like toupees on a balding pate that break up the bare rock into what appear to be discontinuous outcrops. The best way to see it is, of course, to climb it. There are many routes up and over, some starting from private properties on its lower slopes. Unless you are in the company of locals, however, you are best off following the official route via Sibebe Hiking Trails, a community project that manages the rock. From here, you can follow a well-marked and manageable path to the top either alone or with a guide. The going is steep in places, but it’s a hike, not a climb, and will take you about an hour to get up.
The Sibebe Survivor is an annual scenic walk to the top of one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, Sibebe Rock in Mbuluzi. A decade down, we are now staging our eleventh Sibebe Survivor. The event has grown from year to year, and the expectations of people visiting have risen from 5,000 people walking and climbing the Rock.
The route is from Mbuluzi High School where the walkers start walking. The route climbs up the hills to a plateau with spectacular views of Mbabane and surrounding areas. Spend some time looking out from the top of Sibebe before enjoying the walk back down. The walk to the top is around 5.5 Km and the same distance back. However, for those less adventurous there are turn around points along the route.
Part of Sibebe
The road to Sibebe passes along the attractive Pine Valley, with the rock so close to the verge that in some places you must crane upwards to see it. At the end lies Sibebe trails community project, from where a well-marked and manageable path leads to the top. It is wise to explore this site with a tour guide to avoid making expensive mistakes if you are traveling there for the first time; they are available almost at your beck and call as you approach the site.
For more information on Sibebe Rock and Sibebe Survivor, and bookings visit the following sites:
Your best bet is to contact Swazi Trails in Ezulwini Valley, which takes half-day nontechnical climbs up the rock (E780 per person, including transport).
Call (+268)2416 2180 or visit www.swazitrails.co.sz