Swaziland, a small monarchy in southern Africa, is known for its wilderness reserves and festivals showcasing traditional lively and colourful Swazi culture. It has managed to hold on to that slow-down-this-is-Africa feeling, and that’s why it’s gaining in popularity. Everything remains small and personable, and the atmosphere is remarkably relaxed.
PLACES TO VISIT
1. NSANGWINI ROCK ART SHELTER
The well-preserved paintings are under a small but impressive rock shelter, which is perched over the Komati River and affords lovely views across the mountains.
2. NGWENYA IRON-ORE MINE
Ngwenya is one of the world’s oldest known mines. An interesting display of photographs and information, including the original excavation tools can be seen at the Visitors Centre.
3. ELUDZIDZINI ROYAL RESIDENCE
The queen mothers royal residence can be seen at the end of a palm-lined avenue south of Lobamba.
4. SOMHLOLO NATIONAL STADIUM
Named after King Sobhuza l, the stadium hosts important state occasions, such as coronations and soccer matches.
Opened in 1969 as a post-independence gift from the departing British, this hexagonal building topped with a brass dome is a major landmark in Lobamba.
6. SIBEBE ROCK
Sibebe Rock is the largest exposed granite dome in the world and is over 3 billion years old!
7. MBULUZI GAME RESERVE
Supports herds of giraffe, zebra, nyala, impala, kudu, over 300 species of birds, and many others. The park offers clearly marked walking paths, self-driving trails, lookout points, hiking, and bird hides.
8. SHEWULA MOUNTAIN CAMP
Set in the beautiful Shewula Nature Reserve. Visitors can partake in village walks, witness traditional song and dance performances, visit with a traditional healer, or enjoy the tranquil natural surroundings.
9. MANZINI MARKET
Known for its original arts and crafts you will find work by local artisans. Colorful collections of paraffin wax candles in standard and animal shapes, as well as scented beauty products, and other gifts can be found here. At the courtyard you can watch the wood carvers at work. Specialty items available include woven baskets, batik prints, jewelry, and carved masks.
10. WHITE WATER RAFTING
For adventure lovers there’s no greater rush than an exhilarating white water rafting trip down Swaziland’s Great Usutu River.
11. NGWENYA GLASS
Ngwenya Glass is Africa’s most prestigious glass factory and pieces can be found in art galleries and airport shops around the world. Pieces range from decorative animals bowls, wine glasses, wine stoppers, unique chess sets and corporate gifts. Age-old blowing techniques has been passed onto local craftsman since the opening in 1987.
12. MANTENGA CULTURAL VILLAGE
Swazilands top traditional song and dance show is hosted in the village. Visitors can enjoy traditional harmonies and energetic dances. The reconstruction of a Swazi hut village from the 1850 can be viewed after the show.
13. REED DANCE
The Umhlanga Reed Dance is truly one of Africa’s most fascinating cultural events!
14. GAME RESERVES
a) Leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants and lots of other animals can be seen in Hlane Royal National Park, Swazilands largest park. It also offers bird watching, wildlife viewing, camping, game viewing, guided walking safaris, guided mountain biking trails and cultural tours.
b) At the Luphohlo Dam in the Luphohlo Recreational park you will find spots for a picnic, secure parking, seating, braai area, fishing, ablution facilities and boating (boats not provided).
c) At the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary Swaziland’s wildlife pioneer conservation area visitors can relax in our peaceful rest camps within the Hippo Haunt Restaurant and Bar with picnic areas and a large swimming pool. It offers craft tours, game viewing and for the vehicle fanatics horse trails and mountain
15. THE BATIMBA NATIONAL HUNT
The hunt marks the culling season in the park and the ceremony unifies the regiments of the Swazi nation. During the hunt, song, dance and rituals are performed according to Swazi culture.
16. THE SACRED MANTJOLO POOL
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. The pool is a national monument in Swaziland and with the Mnisi clan as its guardian.
17. KING SOBHUZA ll MEMORAIL PARK
Swaziland’s National Museum Park gives an introduction to the history of the Swazi cultural values, origins, their routines and traditional clothing. Old photographs that depict the Swazi history are placed next to the displaying cabinet with detailed description.
18. NATIONAL MUSEUM
This museum has some interesting displays of Swazi culture, as well as a traditional beehive village and cattle enclosure, and several of King Sobhuza I’s 1940s cars.
19. MAGUGA DAM
A wounderful place to experince a peacful and enjoyable moment by the water flanked by gigantic mountains on both sides with the phophonyane waterfall situated at Piggs Peak.
The temperate climate is pleasant most of the year, even though summers are hot and winters are mild. October is the warmest month while the period between December and April receives plenty of rainfall – but this is when the countryside looks all well washed, fresh and green.