The Kingdom of Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. The top attractions here are nature reserves and its fascinating culture, customs, and festivals.
Hlane Royal National Park
The ‘Wilderness’ or Hlane Game Sanctuary allows visitors a chance of seeing lion, elephant, and rhino. This reserve also features a collection of species, including the highest density of breeding white backed vultures and biggest game herds.
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Mbuluzi Game Reserve offers self-guided wildlife safaris to see animals such as giraffe, zebra, and wildebeest, during the day, possibly viewing hyena, servals, and honey badgers during the night and birding more than 300 species, including the beautiful Narina trogon.
Lobamba, houses Lobamba Royal Village with the Royal Kraal. The large Embo State Palace and the magnificent State House are not open to the public but visitors can tour the Parliament Building and the Somhlolo Stadium, which is the venue of major cultural and sporting events, state celebrations, concerts, dance performances, and speeches by the king.
Swazi Market, Mbabane
Find fresh produce, pottery, hand-made baskets, masks, traditional fabrics, soapstone carvings, and beaded jewelry here. Visit the traditional medicine center, with its healing lotions and potions. Shoppers can see more Swazi crafts, including baskets, jewelry, and textiles at Tintsaba Crafts.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Swaziland’s first conservation areas and its most popular game reserve. The sanctuary offers game drives, nature walks, mountain biking, horseback rides, a village cultural experience, and swimming in the rest camp’s pool.
Malolotja Nature Reserve & Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve
Malolotja Nature Reserve offers a network of hiking trails and multi-day wilderness treks. It is notable for the abundance of breeding groups of endangered species such as blue crane and bald ibis. A fun way to experience the reserve is by soaring through the forest on the Treetop Canopy Tour zip line.
40-minute drive northeast from here is the Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge and Nature Reserve. The reserve protects an astounding diversity of habitats in a relatively small area with lush forests, rivers, waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails. Guests can choose from safari tents, beehive huts, or self-catering cottages.
Mlawula Nature Reserve
The Mlawula Nature Reserve with its contrasting ecological zones, features varied wildlife including 60 species of small and large animals as well as 350 species of birds, many insects, and an impressive array of plants. Guests are free to enjoy safe hikes and fishing.
Mantenga Nature Reserve is home to the Mantenga Cultural Village, where visitors can take guided tours to learn about Swazi culture and customs, participate in traditional activities, and watch traditional songs and dances. The reserve also houses the Mantenga Falls, Swaziland’s most famous falls with the biggest volume of water.
Umhlanga “Reed Dance ceremony” takes place during the last week of August or first week of September is where young women come to participate in a joyful song and dance performance. In December and January, Incwala is an impressive kingship ritual lasting about three weeks. The climax is reached on the “great day,” when the king, clad in his finest robes, symbolically tastes the first fruits of the harvest followed by cheerful song and dance.
The National Museum in Lobamba hosts fascinating exhibits on the history, culture, and nature of Swaziland including traditional clothing exhibits and displays on the native wildlife and dioramas with typical highveld and lowveld habitats. Outside the Museum, visitors can explore a recreation of a Swazi kraal (village) with thatched huts.