I’ve climbed Sibebe before. And yeah I may have contemplated my life choices while hiking and wandered off the trail a few times till I got lost, but I’ve climbed Sibebe before. Hold on to that; its important information. It’s a victory. I honestly don’t think you can be from this country and not have at least one experience of seeing the view from the summit. And I say at least because you can’t possibly hike this monolith once. Okay, maybe that might be a dramatic stretch, but at least step onto the trail and quit halfway if you must. So, I have climbed Sibebe before and I’m proud of that. It’s gruelling, challenging, exhausting but the feeling you get when you’re standing at the top looking down at the valley below; priceless.
It was second year when I hiked it. Might be a while ago and no I won’t expose my age, but just stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this. Second year. My design lecturer gave us the intriguing assignment of conceptualising an eco-tourism resort for Sibebe; you know, the world’s second largest exposed granite dome Sibebe. Gruelling Sibebe. Challenging Sibebe. Pretty psychic right? Not. It was only really a matter of time before a resort actually was created for the iconic landmark. It was only fitting. As per project outline, we had to visit the rock in order to get our creative (as well as logical) juices flowing. I recall how I didn’t even have the right shoes that day because really, all a girl mostly owned was sandals. Nevertheless, I got to the summit in one piece. Loafers and all. The hike started off with a clear trail. A foot path that cut into the Mbuluzi community and meandered around homesteads. The terrain was at first smooth and easy; nothing to write home about, but then, the further we moved away from the base camp, the tougher it got. Under canopies of trees we went and around cool water streams. Up by the rocky hills, and pushing past lemon grasses that reached up to my knees. I understood then why they called the annual hike the Sibebe Survior. It felt like a level 1 version of the Kilimanjaro. The prototype experience. Wildflowers dotting the trail and rock lizards of every species crawling over boulders and scurrying into a thicket as we trekked past. I looked back at some point and saw the road below; cars cruising by looking as small as little Lego pieces. We were close to the summit and I could feel my excitement rising. Up ahead, I could already see the activity unfolding at the top. My friends acting like the silly students we were at the time and taking an unnecessary amount of selfies. A moment we all wanted to capture and a moment we all made sure we did. I still have the pictures to prove it if you’re struggling to believe me and just the other weekend, I hiked Sibebe once more for the first time in years and I experienced its unmatched exhilaration all over again.
Today, the summit nests a resort that is breathtakingly beautiful. Sitting pristine like a city in the clouds with a view so indescribable that it could almost challenge our famous Ezulwini grand valley one. I said almost. The resort has a restaurant that serves delightful cuisine and houses a lovely wine selection too, which can be enjoyed overlooking the bougie Pine valley below. The trail is still the same however and reaps the same exciting feeling when you reach the top. I enjoyed it this time, same way I enjoyed it the first time I encountered it. So when I say I’ve climbed Sibebe before, don’t give me the side-eye; it’s one of the greatest feats you could ever have under your belt. It’s a win to get to the top. It’s a story worth sharing over and over again. Especially cause at one point in time, I did it with loafers on. My photographer and I hiked it last weekend and captured the entire thing through his lenses. Green hills. Tall lemon grasses. Herds of cattle and homesteads below. Hiked up the brutal rocky trail, under boughs of trees and past shrubs with wildflowers sleeping on them. We’ve climbed Sibebe before and if you were to ask if we’d do it again anytime soon; the answer would most definitely be yes. Because really; you can’t possibly hike this monolith once.