This post was most recently updated on May 31st, 2018
Swaziland is one of the few remaining monarchies in Africa. Most people know Swaziland for the reed dance, an annual event when thousands of girls present a river reed to the queen mother. But that is not all there is. Here are the places to visit in Swaziland.
Places to Visit in Swaziland
Mantenga Village, Ezulwini
The Mantenga Nature Reserve and Cultural Village in Swaziland offers an introduction to the culture and the natural environment of Swaziland. At Mantenga Village, visitors can enjoy comfortable accommodation within a short distance from Ezulwini Valley, Manzini, Mbabane, and Malkerns.
Monkeys, nyala, and warthogs stroll among the cabins, they are used to sharing their space with humans. From Mantenga Village, one can easily access nearby resorts for caving and white water rafting.
Hlane Royal National Park, Manzini
In the siSwati language, ‘Hlane’ means ‘wilderness.’ The 22,000-hectare park once served as hunting grounds for the local people. Today there is no more hunting. People come here to admire the large herds of elephant, antelope, and other grazers. Lions, marabou stork, and vultures are the dominant meat eaters here. Visitors enjoy game drives, picnic lunches, and dining at the restaurant. The gates are closed after sunset and opened at sunrise.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Ezulwini‘Little Fire,’ or Mlilwane, as it is called in siSwati, supports a range of wildlife. Here, visitors can take self-guided walking tours because there aren’t any dangerous game. It is a popular site for ecotourists both local and foreign.
Detailed maps make it possible to attempt self-guided tours. Self-catering cottages are available for those who prefer them.
Mkhaya Game Reserve, Mkhaya
Mkhaya offers perhaps the best opportunity for getting to know the black rhino in its natural habitat. Because of a heavy presence of big game, all tours are guided by rangers. Mkhaya is the name of a valuable hardwood tree that is traditionally used to build homes. Here in Mkhaya, large herds of indigenous Nguni cattle thrive.
Several endangered species live here, including roan antelope, white rhino, tsessebe, sable antelope, and livingstone’s eland. Mkhaya provides employment to the local Swazis while giving visitors a taste of the real Africa.
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Malolotja is one of the most spectacular mountain parks in Southern Africa. It is an unspoiled wilderness landscape in Swaziland. Here you will find Ngwenya, the highest mountain in Swaziland. Grasslands, bushvelds, riverine scrubs, and mountain forests cover the mountains and valleys.
Malolotja falls is the highest of many waterfalls in the reserve. It empties into the Nkomati river. During spring time, visitors can enjoy the flowers, in addition to wildlife.
The kingdom of Swaziland hosts many colorful festivals, some hundreds of years old. The two most well known are the Reed Dance, or Umhlanga, and the Ingcwala ceremonies. The dates of these events are not known before their occurrence, because they are determined by astrological signs as interpreted by elders.
The Marula festival celebrates the marula fruit, from which local beers are brewed. The king’s birthday is celebrated in April. Expedition Africa is a 120 km multidisciplinary race attracting competitors from different parts of the world. The Ngwenya glass factory hosts an annual Ngwenya Glass Mountain Bike Race.
Sibebe is the biggest exposed granite pluton you can find anywhere. It is the best hiking/trekking site in Swaziland. Follow one of the trails, to the top of the rock using a local guide. On Sibebe rock, there are usually no crowds, and visitors can enjoy solitude.
Take a steeper trail for a bigger challenge or follow a more gentle path if you just want to enjoy the experience without excess exertion. Believe it or not, the rock is more than 3 billion years old.
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Mbuluzi is a private game reserve equipped with luxury lodges beside Mbuluzi river. It is located close to both Mozambique and South Africa, making it convenient for travelers who want to visit more than one country. During the day, visitors can experience animals like giraffe, kudu, zebra, nyala, bushbuck, crocodile, warthog, and many more.
During the evenings, guests can take night drives to view nocturnal animals. Hyenas, bush pigs, civets, servals, genets, honey badgers, and jackals are all nocturnal.
Situated at the bottom of the Lubombo Mountain range, inside the Lowveld in Swaziland. Visitors traveling to Kruger National Park in South Africa will find it convenient to make a stopover here. People come to Nisela to fish, take game drives, hike, explore caves, and bird watch.
Mlawula Nature Reserve
Mlawula lies next to the Lubombo Mountains. Here, visitors can enjoy scenic views and luxury accommodations. More than 350 bird species live here, making it an ideal bird watching destination. Sixty mammals of different sizes live here too. It is a good place for a family getaway. Many wildebeest, kudu, impala, and tortoises graze here. If you are lucky you will spot a leopard.
King Sobhuza II Memorial Park
Still, in Lobomba, King Sobhuza II Memorial Park, hosts a National Museum alongside a park. You will find it near Parliament in the royal area and is named after a monarch. In the museum, you will find relics of Swazi culture, including traditional dress.
The collection of old photographs is extensive and depict important moments in Swazi history. They are accompanied by descriptions. It feels like stepping into a time capsule. Memories of the king who led Swaziland to independence from colonialism, are kept here for posterity.
It is called the Place of Kings.