Sibebe Rock, Gobholo Caves, Umhlanga Reed Dance, beehive huts, Malolotja Potholes and the Great Usutu River are words that speak of traditional culture, nature and adventure. They’re also features and attractions that may – or may not – appear along the 500-kilometre race course for the Expedition Africa 2015.
Yes, that’s right. Next year Expedition Africa will be staged in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
In June 2015, this non-stop, multi-day, international adventure race will see more than 40 four-person teams from around the World competing on foot, bike and kayak through the Kingdom of Swaziland, a sovereign state that lies within South Africa.
One of the smallest countries in Africa, Swaziland measures no more than 200 kilometres (120 miles) North to South and 130 kilometres (81 miles) across. It’s climate varies especially from West to East; the cooler temperatures of the eastern mountains of the western highveld is in contrast to the hot and dry conditions of the lowveld in the East.
Race Directors, Heidi and Stephan Muller, are very familiar with the less-travelled areas of Swaziland. They raced in the first edition of Swazi Xtreme, a 250-kilometre adventure race presented by Darron Raw in 2001. They returned every year thereafter to complete in this event, which is still spoken about in South African circles for the adventures experienced in the Kingdom. Swazi Xtreme ran for 10 years; the last edition was presented in 2010.
And so it is that the Mullers will bring their event, the 500-kilometre expedition-style adventure race, Expedition Africa to this country where they had so much pleasure competing.
Heidi and Stephan both laugh as they say: “The stories that we can tell from racing in Swaziland!”.
“We’ve cycled through game reserves, paddled on flat-water, white-water and even in an irrigation canal. We’ve jumped into rivers, abseiled into caves and used jumars to get up waterfalls. On foot we’ve crossed mountains, agricultural expanses and forests… There’s just so much to this small country.”
But knowing the Kingdom doesn’t make course planning any easier.
“It’s a challenging task,” says Stephan, Course Director. “We’ve had extraordinary adventures in Swaziland at Darron’s races and we have so many good memories of racing here. We look forward to sharing some of the sights, wonders and experiences that we’ve had over the years with our Expedition Africa teams.”
Raw’s company, Swazi Trails is Expedition Africa’s official travel partner. As an adventure racer and former race director, he understands team requirements.
“Darron has extensive knowledge of the country and is the best person to advise teams on travel arrangements as well as pre- or post-race activity opportunities like safaris and cultural tours. All bookings and travel arrangements can be made through Swazi Trails,” Heidi says.
As Expedition Africa’s main Accommodation Partner, the event will make its home at the four-star Lugogo Sun, one of the hotels to make up the Royal Swazi Spa Valley resort. Each team will be booked into two rooms, each with luxurious double beds for every athlete.
In addition to the comfortable rooms, teams can take advantage of massages and other spa offerings as they relax before and after the race on deck chairs arranged around the hotel’s pool. The hotel is located within walking distance to a shopping centre that has a pharmacy, banks, restaurants and a large supermarket from where teams can purchase food supplies for the race.
Expedition Africa is scheduled to take place from 5 to 14 June 2015. Entries for Expedition Africa 2015 are now open for four-person teams. Please visit the Expedition Africa website (www.kineticgear.co.za) for entry procedure, items included in the entry fee, race schedule, transport advisory, equipment lists and additional information.