the fp is things-to-do
Things to see and do in Eswatini (Swaziland)
Eswatini (Swaziland) Tourism AuthorityAddress: Swazi Plaza,
PO Box A1030
Telephone: +268 (0) 2404 9693.
Attractions in Eswatini (Swaziland)
Also known as “The Valley of Heaven”, the Ezulwini Valley boasts lush and magnificent countryside - some of the finest that southern Africa has to offer. Neighbouring Malkerns Valley is equally fertile and verdant, and is well known for its scenic drive.
Hot mineral springs
The aptly named Cuddle Puddle is one of the many hot mineral springs that can be found throughout Eswatini (Swaziland). This magnesium-rich pool has waters that remain at a constant 42°C (108°F) – perfect for soaking those weary bones – and can be found in the Ezulwini Valley.
Lobamba, located southeast of Mbabane, is one of the main cultural hotspots in Eswatini (Swaziland). It is here that the Incwala (ritual of Kingship) and Umhlanga (Reed Dance) celebrations take place. Swazi festivals are loud and colourful, drawing the nation together to share in traditional dancing, singing and culinary delights. During the Incwala, the king gives his people permission to eat the first crops of the season (December/January), while the spectacular Umhlanga (Reed Dance) sees maidens present reeds to the Queen Mother and takes place in August/September.
Lobamba is also home to The National Museum, Somhlolo National Stadium and King Sobhuza II Memorial Park – all are much visited tourist attractions. As the legislative capital city of Eswatini (Swaziland), you can also find the Houses of Parliament and the royal Embo State Palace in Lobamba.
Malolotja Nature Reserve
Discover true African wilderness at the rugged Malolotja Nature Reserve. There are hiking trails galore, ranging from after-lunch strolls to week-long treks, and 280 species of bird have been recorded here.
Hike the magnificent countryside. There are plenty of options including the ascent to Malolotsha Falls at Piggs Peak; Sibebe Mountain, a huge granite outcrop that provides a scenic spot for a picnic; and the climb up Emlembe, Swaziland's highest peak.
Poke around the handicraft stalls amidst the hustle and bustle of Manzini's vibrant market. This is probably Eswatini’s (Swaziland's) best place for crafts at bargain prices, so come prepared to negotiate.
Mlawula Nature Reserve
One of the best things about Mlawula Nature Reserve is that you can explore by foot and without a guide. There are ten walking trails available, ranging from a short 1.5km (0.9miles) walk to a full-day hike. As this is the place where the Lubombo Mountains meet with the surrounding Lowveld, you'll experience the impressive flora and fauna it has to offer, which includes over 350 species of bird.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Go on a bike tour, stopping to photograph the zebra and impala along the way, or take part in a guided game walk where you can learn more about the animals and plants that make Mlilwane their home. For something extra special, head out on a horse-riding safari. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles, hoopoe, blesbuck, kudu and gnu – many animals let you get a lot closer to them when you're on the back of a horse. Mlilwane is also ideal for hiking, with the most popular trail being the slightly arduous ascent to Execution Rock for fabulous views of the plains.
Ngwenya Glass Factory
Admire the exquisite detail on the expertly made products at the Ngwenya Glass Factory (ngwenyaglass.co.sz). Many are in the shape of African animals and birds, making them an ideal souvenir of your trip. Each item is made from 100% recycled glass and the forge is open to the public, so you can watch the skilled glassmakers create their elaborate shapes – if you can handle the heat!
Swazi Candles Centre
The Swazi Candles Centre (www.swazicandles.com), located in the Malkerns Valley, showcases a selection of quality, handcrafted candles. You can see the candles being made in the lively workshop, and you can even have a go at making one yourself. Buy a few candles to remember your trip by before taking a wander around some of the other artisan shops at the centre, all of which are community-led. The centre also offers carved wooden souvenirs, batik clothing and African jewellery.
Attend colourful Swazi festivals full of African dancing and singing that draw the nation together. During the Incwala, the king gives his people permission to eat the first crops of the season (December/January). Or in August/ September, see the Umhlanga (Reed Dance).
Hurtle down the Great Usutu River on a white-water rafting trip (www.swazitrails.co.sz). The rapids through Bulungu Gorge provide an exhilarating ride and you'll also need to negotiate a 10m (33ft) waterfall. Once you’re away from the rapids, you can float lazily down the river – but keep your eyes peeled for the 'flat dogs' (crocodiles) in the water!
Go game-spotting on a wildlife drive, organised through Big Game Parks (https://biggameparks.org). Mkhaya Game Reserve is a top private reserve where you may spot the elusive black rhino; and in Hlane Royal National Park look out for lion, elephant and plenty of antelope.