Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini Umbuso weSwatini; sometimes called Eswatini, is a sovereign state in Southern Africa. It is neighboured by Mozambique to its northeast and by South Africa to its north, west and south; it is a landlocked country.
The Kingdom provides travelers the ideal gateway between KwaZulu-Natal and the Kruger National Park, as well as Johannesburg and Maputo – no better route is available with added advantage of discovering a whole new country filled with bygone African traditions and Swazi Culture. Small as it may be, Swaziland is an exciting tourist destination with its Arts and Crafts outlets and traditional markets and wildlife reserves. As one of the few remaining Executive Monarchies in Africa, culture and heritage are deeply engrained in all aspects of Swazi life, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all who visit. As well as the rich culture, the overwhelming friendliness of the people makes all visitors feel truly welcome and very safe. Add to that a stunning landscapes of mountains and valleys, forests and plains; plus wildlife reserves across the country that are home to The Big Five, and you have all that’s best about Africa in one small but perfectly formed and welcoming country.
Here are some of the interesting things you can do Eswatini…………..
Ezulwini Valley: The Ezulwini Valley is the Kingdom’s main tourist area offering a wealth of attractions. Ezulwini means ‘place of heaven’, and the valley that bears this name certainly has its share of hedonistic delights. This is where tourism in Swaziland began, and today its attractions include hotels, restaurants, hot springs, casinos, a cinema, craft markets, art galleries, riding stables, a nature reserve, a golf course and a cultural village.
The Sacred Mantjolo Pool: A little north-west of Mbabane, Mantjolo, under its calm waters resides the entire Mnisi ancestral clan. According to traditional belief, it is believed that when a member of the Mnisi family passes on, the spirit of that person lives at the bottom of the sacred pool in a world that is similar to the world we live in. It is a known fact that the level of the pool never varies in spite of drought, heavy rains and a white farmer who utilized the pool as part of his irrigation system. The sacred Mantjolo pool is a national monument in Swaziland. King Sobhuza 11 recognized the sacred nature of the pool and permission was granted to the Mnisi clan to have large gatherings in the area. He also provided slaughtered cows for the occasions. Only the Mnisi’s can petition the spirits of the pool. The spirits have the power to create violent thunder or hail storms and can prove petitions intentions of having bad intentions or as “Muti” traditional medicine for greed. The pool becomes cloudy or suddenly rippled with no wind present or other obvious disturbances in showing its displease. Sudden thunderstorms and hail storms can destroy crops or property of the offender and he may expect severe consequences especially if they are not a Mnisi are foretold by those used to “reading” the pond. The test of leadership was simple to determine all pretenders too the kingship. They were to enter the pool and submerge a burning candle or torch. The person who emerged the candle or torch alight was then hailed as a new leader. The Mnisi clan is the guardians of the sacred pool.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: Swaziland’s wildlife pioneer conservation area. At Ezulwini in between the Capital Town of Swaziland Mbabane and Manzini as the biggest city in Swaziland there lies a beautiful quiet sanctuary-Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
The visitors can relax on peaceful rest camps within the Hippo Haunt Restaurant and Bar with picnic areas and a large swimming pool. There is something for everyone for the adventurous Mlilwane provides adventure and craft tours, game viewing and for the vehicle fanatics horse trails and mountain biking is available and also for the not so wild self-guided walking trails is also available.
Hlane Royal National Park: The largest in Swaziland and the best park if you want to see the big five that is the leopard, lion, cheetah, elephant, and lots of other animals. You can have a unique experience by viewing the wildlife by foot also wildlife viewing by vehicle is provided. The national park also provides catered and self-catering accommodation. Also there are other things to do while in the park such as bird watching, wildlife viewing, camping, game viewing, guided walking safaris, guided mountain biking trails and cultural tours. ‘Hlane’ means ‘Wilderness’ in siSwati and has two rest camps: NdlovuCamp found immediately inside Hlane Royal National Park’s main gate; and Bhubesi Camp, a completely self-catering pristine camp located 14km from Ndlovu. At Ndlovu Camp, enjoy a sundowner on the decks of the semi-open air restaurant and admire the resident Rhinos before retiring to your campsite, caravan, en-suite Rondavel or cottage.
Mkhaya Game Reserve: A very small area, but definitely worth visiting. Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s icons Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s icons Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s icons. Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s icons Mkhaya is all about intimate encounters with some of Africa’s icons. Mkhaya game reserve is located in eastern part of Swaziland. This is the place to see black and white Rhinos. ‘Mkhaya’, named after the Acacia nigrescens tree found in the reserve, is home to 4 of the Big 5 including Black Rhino. Visitors can also spot the pure Swazi Nguni Breed of Cattle, Roan & Sable Antelope, Tsessebe, White Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo, Hippo, Crocodile and exquisite birdlife including the elusive Narina Trogon to name just a few of the wildlife highlights Spending a night in this reserve is worth it, they have luxurious tent camps. There is also game viewing on open land rovers. Activities include Mountain biking, 4×4 trips, boat trips, walks and treks, bird watching and quad biking.
Mlawula Nature Reserve: The Mlawula Nature Reserve located in northeastern Swaziland, covers a total surface area of 18,000 ha, and lies adjacent to Mbuluzi Game Reserve, Simunye Nature Reserve, and Hlane Royal National Park. The Mlawula Nature Reserve is set in the rugged setting of the Lubombo mountain range. The reserve is characterized mainly by thorn savanna and open grasslands on the slopes of the Lebombo Mountains, near the Mozambique border. The reserve is open to visitors throughout the entire year, and offers a variety of activities which include fishing, walking safaris, and game viewing, either at one of the hides within the reserve, or from a game viewing vehicle. Visitors must however be aware of the dangers of crocodiles and malaria in the region. As one might perhaps expect of a mountain reserve, Mlawula offers a variety of hiking trails of various lengths. Guides are available on request, but due to the dense bush, game viewing from the trails is not as rewarding as from a vehicle. The Mlawula Stream and the Mbuluzi River flow through magnificent valleys in which Stone Age tools have been discovered, providing hikers with interesting insights into the history and culture of the region.
Sibebe Rock: Sibebe is a granite mountain in Swaziland, located 10 km from the capital city Mbabane. It is the second-largest monolith in the world and the largest exposed granite pluton. It is also known as ‘Bald Rock’. The geological wonder of Sibebe is, at some 3 billion years old, more than three times as old as its Australian counterpar. 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. A Sibebe Rock hiking is an exploration of southern Africa’s most impressive geographical site. The immense volcanic slab is said to be about three-billion-year-old. You really can have a good view of this rock without climbing it. At its peak, you will find a wonderland of sculpted boulders, granite slopes and hidden forest clefts, with trails leading to caves and waterfalls. After rains, the rock glistens silver with countless streams running down its bare face. Swaziland’s Sibebe Rock offers, for the moment, peace and solitude as you wonder the trails that have been marked out across its span.
Swaziland also has events that can’t be missed:
Bikers Rally (August – Sidvokodvo Rider Ranch): This is an annual biker’s event which is always held at Riders Ranch, in Sidvokodvo, Swaziland. The Rally has always been held over the last weekend in August. Riders Ranch caters for on and off road riders making it a fun place for all riders.
Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre in Manzini: This annual exhibition event is held over ten days at the Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre in Manzini and receives support from the King and government. It attracts over 35,000 exhibitors from different private and public sector institutions, as well as foreign companies and governments. Visit the SITF website for more information.
MTN BUSHFIRE: MTN Bushfire is an annual performing arts festival held over a long May weekend at House on Fire, Malandela’s. It is one of the biggest and best of its kind in southern Africa, with everything from live music and theatre to film, workshops and a global food fair – in short, everything you’d expect from Swaziland’s answer to Glastonbury.
Simunye Country Fair (May – Simumye Country Club): This three-day weekend of family fun is held every year at Simunye Country Club and attracts thousands of visitors from around Swaziland and beyond. There are games, rides, children’s entertainers, beer tents, goat races and circus acts. A line-up of bands take the stage, and manager Thea Litschka even gives a snake handling demonstration.
King’s Cup Golf: This annual golf tournament is held at the Royal Swazi Golf Club, one of only two 18-hole courses in the country. A product of King Mswati’s 2004 Job Creation Summit, it attracts business people from South Africa and around the region, and tends to pack out the hotels in Ezulwini.
Incwala: This is Swaziland’s most important cultural event. A ceremony that has lasted for hundreds of years, it is one of the last remaining examples of what was previously common practice in many African countries. It has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy.
Although often translated as ‘first fruits festival’, the tasting of the first of the season’s bounty is only one part of this long rite. Essentially this is about cleansing and renewal, and above all – celebrating kingship. Although not a tourism event per se, visitors with an interest in Swaziland culture are always welcomed. Respect for total privacy is required on certain special days when the nation gathers for its own focus.
That’s the beauty of Swaziland. It’s worth exploring right?
I loved reading this. Took me back on my Swaziland trip last year
Very interesting hmm.
Well written article. Informative and entices potential visitors.
Great read..???? now I want to pack up & leave ????