By Vuyisile Hlashwayo
Always out and about, I thought I’d seen the most interesting parts of the countryside with majestic scenery that leaves you breathless, but the gullied landscape of KaKholwane is really another world.
Situated in the face of Tfutjana Mountain, the oasis-like beauty overlooking Mkhondvo River proves a necessary distraction from the widespread disturbing land degradation and soil erosion across our geologically unique and geographically remote countryside. Thanks to John J. Ramos for posting this spectacular landscape on the Vakasha Eswatini Facebook Page. To pique my interest, John’s post has generated a lively debate among legion Vakasha Eswatini followers about the touristic nature of the gullies.
Prompted by the conflicting arguments, I shoot down south in my 4×4 Jeep Cherokee Limited to see the stunning gullies. I had never been to KaKholwane area before, such a place with amazing views perfectly fits into my bucket list of a lifetime exploration awaiting me across the country.
As I climb up the slope to the hidden quaint Tfutjana Mount Resort above the gullied place, my mind is assailed by the Vakasha Eswatini followers’ conflicting arguments about the touristic nature of the gullies. Individually though, I slowly begin to appreciate that water and gravity are the prime architects of this land, sculpting layers into the rugged landscape unfolding before my curious eyes.
A welcoming Tfutjana Mount Resort groundsman, Joseph Dlamini, quickly identifies his elderly colleague, Thanda Seyeyama and his middle-aged boss, Derrick Dlamini, to talk to me about the natural beauty. As if Seyeyama has already read my mind, he disproves the assumption that the gullies resulted from the 1984 Cyclone Domonia that hit the whole country. He explains that they, in fact, predate even his own birthdate and the 1984 Cyclone Domonia.
Pointing to two homesteads built near the fence of the gullied place, Seyeyama points out that they have been there for years because the gullies do not develop rapidly. He rules out the other contributory factors such as overgrazing, improper farming practices, and clearing of vegetation. Instead, he attributes their formation to a natural process of erosion. Dlamini adds that the gullies have been developing at a snail pace over the years.
Immediately after the informative interview, Joseph assumes his role of being my tour guide. Sponsored by the Denmark Government (DANIDA), the Forestry Section of the then Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has fenced the gullied place as part of the donga rehabilitation process. After taking pictures of the board written Demonstration Project: KaKholwane Donga Rehabilitation, we crawl under the fence into the valley of stunning gullies.
From its lower to the upper part, there are numerous gabions stretching across to control water-runoffs. There are also some black hose pipes supplying water to Tfutjana Mount Resort and surrounding homesteads
Cleary spellbound by the deep and wide gullies beautifully curved on the side walls with pointy ends capped with vegetation, I find myself hopping from one vein-like gully to another. When touching the sides, I discover that they are as hard as a rock which explains why these gullies do not develop rapidly.
As we walk around, I notice some patches of wet spots on the sand which indicate that Tfutjana Mountain serves as a water catchment area. Gorgeously curved, the gullied place is a complete hotchpotch of natural architectural styles.
Whether you choose to hop around or sit and dwell in nature, this scenic gullied KaKholwane place provides an unforgettable experience for you. It is another world without building and amenities, only nature in all its glory. Don’t worry about food as it is served at Tfutjana Mount Resort.