11 fascinating things to do in Swaziland
When I told people that I am moving to Swaziland the most common reply was: “Oh Switzerland, how wonderful!” Perhaps Swaziland is not on people’s radar because it’s a tiny spot on the map; sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique. Despite being tiny it has big things to offer! Here are 11 wonderful things to do in Swaziland – not necessarily in that order…
Tip 1: Swazi Candles Centre
Since I can remember, I have a thing for candles. Experiencing regular power outages in Africa made me love candles even more. And if I see them in unique shapes, forms and colors, I can’t resist buying them. If you love the warm glow and romantic feeling of a candle than a visit at Swazi’s world famous candle factory is a must. To be honest, some of them are even too beautiful to burn down.
Tip 2: House on Fire
This could happen if you keep your Swazi candles burning, but it’s not what House on Fire is all about. It’s a place to celebrate local and international musical and artistic talent. But even if no event is on, House on Fire’s unique design of thousands of colorful pieces of mosaic is incredible and worth a visit. Stroll around and let your imagination run free.
I can also recommend a farm-fresh meal at Malandela’s while immersing yourself in the scenic Malkerns Valley with the picturesque Mlilwane Mountains as backdrop.
House on Fire is also a great place to shop for some souvenirs. Gone Rural offers beautifully hand-woven baskets and trays. At Baobab Batik you most likely find it difficult to choose amongst the colorful pieces of cushions, bags or bed rugs.
Tip 3: Ngwenya Glass Factory
If you need a candleholder for your Swazi candles, you have a variety to choose from at Ngwenya Glass Factory. But not only candleholders, also glassware, jugs, bowls and sculptures are on offer. A tour is a wonderful experience; witness first-hand the magical art of glassblowing while looking the artists over the shoulder; not literally though but from a raised viewing platform.
Tip 4: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
I’ll never forget my first trip to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and driving up the peak! The view was absolutely amazing: rolling hill after rolling hill that glimmered in the mild hazy light of sunset; a truly unforgettable moment. I also recommend discovering Mlilwane during a mountain-bike tour. It’s an incredible feeling to cycle past grazing zebras and impala.
Tip 5: Reed Dance
The reed dance, also known as Umhlanga Dance, is most likely the most famous dance in the world. Or do you know another one where a king is choosing his wife amongst more than 30,000 maidens? At least that was the tradition. Still today though it’s a highly celebrated event where King Mswati III is actively involved. Dignities and government officials from all over Southern Africa are attending this amazing traditional, vibrant and colorful spectacle.
Tip 6: Bushfire Festival
Once a year, usually end of May, Swaziland is all topsy-turvy. Thousands of festival lovers are flocking to the tiny kingdom to celebrate regional and international artists. The line up is simply amazing and I was in love with the vibrant atmosphere, and the variety of arts and cultural activities. Bushfire Festival is now in its 10th year and was named one of 7 must-see African music festivals by CNN and named as BBC’s Top African Festival. I do agree, it’s a must-see.
Tip 7: Sambane Coffee Shop
Now this is the perfect combination: romantic candlelight (of course from Swazi candles) and a rich chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. Don’t you agree? Sambane Coffee Shop is conveniently located next to Swazi Candles Centre, so you can kill two birds with one stone. And if you’re not a chocoholic, there are other lovely treats on offer too. Avoid lunchtime though as the compound gets swamped with hungry tourists on overland truck safaris. Opposite Sambane Coffee Shop is an arts market that – in my opinion – offers the most beautiful hand-carved giraffes I’ve ever come across.
Tip 8: Maguga Dam
Maguga Dam is a short drive from Piggs Peak. Komati River makes for a picture-perfect landscape that’s best viewed from the swimming pool at Maguga Lodge. It’s the perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Manzini or Mbabane. It comes with some amazing sunsets too…
Tip 9: Hlane Royal National Park
Hlane means “Wilderness” in siSwati. And it truly is a wild place. Boasting with the highest density of wildlife and an incredible variety of birds it sure offers you an authentic bush experience. Hlane is home to lion, elephant, white rhino, giraffe and a whole lot of other species. I am sure you’ll enjoy Hlane Royal National Park as much as I did.
Tip 10: Adrenaline boosting activities
Swaziland will amaze you with fascinating scenery: scenic hills and breathtaking valleys, thick forests and flatland. What better way to discover and explore on walking trails, wild-water-rafting tours, and mountain bike tracks, or while River Tubing or on a Quad-Biking Adventure. Swaziland offers varied activities for all levels of adventures you are seeking. Come and choose.
Tip 11: Summerfield Botanical Gardens
Summerfield Botanical Gardens is a luxurious resort close to the banks of the Bobokazi River in the beautiful Nokwane valley. The estate is 100 hectare large and features a lush green tropical garden with a wonderful lake, waterfalls and a variety of indigenous and exotic plants, such as orchards and palm trees. It’s a hidden and exotic oasis to relax and simply enjoy nature. Every now and then I loved to escape to this tranquil haven to energize.
And while you are reading about Swaziland, also have a look at my other blog post and find out what makes South Africa so attractive.