Mbombela Lodge is in the perfect location if you are keen on exploring the natural beauty that can be found all throughout the Lowveld. A trip to Shiyalongubo Dam is one of those journeys that you need to take.

Whether you take the Louisville turn off at Low’s Creek on the N4 or the Bulembu pass via Barberton, a must stop is Shiyalongubo Dam.  The dam is nestled in the rocky Makhonjwa Mountains and was built for irrigation purposes for the farmers of the Low’s Creek area.   The tar road soon gives way to gravel with steep inclines and the dam is situated on top of a mountain.  In the rainy season the road is tricky so it is important to drive with care.

The pass was originally established by Robert Pettigrew, as the primary route from Kaapmuiden to Barberton was along the Kaap River and infested with Tsetse flies. In Swazi folklore it is believed that when a full moon rises over the Makhonjewa Mountains, a dragon emerges out of the dam and takes his long journey into the mountains to visit his concubines.  Just before sunrise, the dragon returns to the deep waters of the dam, to await the next full moon.  In the early morning his cloak of mist lies over the dam, proof that he resides there.

The dam had a tragic start, which resulted in the Shiyalongubo Dam never been inaugurated.  The day arrived and the dignitaries were there in their finery.  In the middle of the ceremony a car, with a faulty handbrake, came careening down a slope and hit straight into the ceremonial platform.  This sad event not only resulted in the complete destruction of the inauguration platform, but also resulted in several of the dignitaries being killed, among them the mayor’s wife.  This event was the end of the ceremony and therefore the dam was never inaugurated.

Shiyalongubo means “Leave your belongings behind.”  This makes sense since it is much cooler, even cold at night, up at the dam, whereas once you descend into the valleys below it becomes really hot.

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Shiyalongubo Dam has boats for hire for visitors.  Fishing is allowed, but only from shore or from a rowing boat.  The best time to fish there is probably from August to March.  If fishing is not your thing, you can take a walk along the shore or take a hike into the bush.  Bird life up in the mountains is abundant, so take along your bird book.  Bugs and butterflies will happily flit along with you.

For those who want to enjoy a night in the great outdoors, rustic style, there are cabins available.  The cabins are self-catering and sleep four.  Basic bedding is provided but because of the coolness of the evenings it is advisable to bring along an extra blanket.  The lights are provided by solar panels and the hot water is provided by means of a rocket heater.  Drinking water is not provided so be sure to pack sufficient water.  The cabins are shaded by huge bluegum trees and have an amazing view of the dam.

Shiyalongubo Dam is a true gem, a place to go to when you truly want to get away from it all.  With only the birds and bugs making noise, you will return to the city madness well rested. Whether it is a day trip, or a weekend away, there is much to be enjoyed here.