Swaziland is little monarchy which is mostly located in South Africa, but also ventures across into Mozambique. It is the only surviving monarchy on the African continent, a fact which is somewhat controversial as the king rules with an iron fist and has a habit of marrying young virgins. However, this doesn’t detract from the country’s natural beauty, which includes bushveld, mountains and forests. Swaziland is a treasure trove of activities for adventurous holiday-makers. It’s also perfect for those who like to immerse themselves in African culture with several opportunities to experience traditional African life.
Hiking in the mountains is a popular activity, especially as the trails available are diverse enough for all fitness levels. Some of the best hiking trails include:
- Mlawula Trails in the Lubombo Mountains. The trails are accessible from the Mlawula Game Reserve which is part of the Lubombo Conservancy.
- Kirkhill Trails explore the Sithobela Gorge and river.
- Mlilwane Trails in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary take you through grasslands, veld, blue gum forests and mountains (Luchoncho, Sibumbu and Lugogo). Guided hikes are recommended.
- Shewula Trails to the Shewula falls and through the Shewula Nature Reserve and Mbuluzi Gorge.
- Upper Malolotja Trail in the Malolotja Nature Reserve.
Being in Africa, safaris are a big part of any holiday in Swaziland. Popular safari destinations include:
- Hlane Royal National Park, which is the second largest nature reserve in Swaziland (after Milwane). Famous residents include lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards, as well as hippos, crocodiles and giraffes. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
- Mbuluzi Game Reserve falls within the Lubombo Conservancy. 4×4 or rough terrain vehicles are recommended. The reserve is a bird watcher’s paradise with over 300 species on display.
- Nisela Safaris includes day and night game viewing, self-guided walking trails and angling safaris.
Other Swaziland attractions to note include:
- White water rafting on the Great Usutu River.
- The Usutu Forest, which is a man-made forest ideal for bird watching. It’s also known for its string of roadside markets where you can pick up traditional crafts and curios.
- Mantega Cultural Village, also known as Lingugu Lemswati, is a living museum dedicated to preserving the traditional way of life, so that the local people can keep in touch with their roots.
- Manzini Market is the largest, most commercial city in the country. It’s busy and crowded and not for the faint-hearted. You can get custom-made dresses, herbal remedies, wood carvings and jewellery.
- Ezulwini Valley is home to the king and the location of the controversial Reed Dance – Umhlanga. Owing to its royal heritage it is one of the richest regions of the country with five-star hotels and casino, disco and lush golf course.
- Ngwenya Glass Village at the base of the Ngwenya Mountain provides the opportunity to watch glass blowers ply their trade and create exquisite figurines and assorted glassware.