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Travel & Holiday Tips in Swaziland


Tucked in between Mozambique and South Africa, Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Largely free of the racial tensions of its large neighbour, and ingrained with a strong sense of national pride, the country is emblazoned with a rich cultural heritage.

If you’re in the country during the Incwala or Umhlanga festivals, this will probably be the highlight of your trip to Africa. The friendly, laid-back people are perhaps the country’s greatest draw, and despite their own hardships take pride in their hospitality.

Swaziland’s protected nature reserves and parks are characterised by some of the most beautiful landscapes in southern Africa. There are myriad opportunities for wildlife watching and the experience is far more low-key than in the large parks of nearby South Africa. It’s also one of the best places in southern Africa to spot the elusive and near-extinct black rhino in the wild.


Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, lies at the northern end of the Ezulwini Valley amid the granite peaks and valleys that make up the Dlangeni hills. Mbabane is Swaziland’s administrative capital and is small, relaxed and unpretentious. The main attractions in town are the Mall, the New Mall and Allister Miller, the main street, named after the first European to be born there.

Ezulwini Valley

The lush Ezulwini Valley is a miracle of nature and the seat of Swaziland’s major tourist attractions. Although Swaziland has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, it was not until an Italian and South African syndicate built southern Africa’s first casino hotel on a prime valley site in the early 1990s that Swaziland geared itself towards tourism. In the valley is the magnificent Royal Swazi golf course, the casino, the hot mineral spring known affectionately by locals and guests as the ‘Cuddle Puddle’, a health studio and a cluster of fine hotels forming the Holiday Valley complex.


In the heart of the Ezulwini Valley is Swaziland’s royal valley, Lobamba, the spiritual and legislative capital of the kingdom. It is home to the royals’ Embo State Palace. The National Museum is housed here, which offers displays on Swazi culture and has a traditional beehive village beside it.


East across the valley is Swaziland’s largest town and its commercial hub, Manzini. On the way here, visitors pass signposts to Swaziland’s most famous waterfall, the Mantenga Falls, the thriving Mantenga Arts & Crafts Centre, the Mlilwane Game Sanctuary, Matsapha Airport and the industrial area of Matsapha, which produces everything from beer to television sets.

There is an outstanding market every day except Sunday; dawn on Thursdays and Fridays is particularly worth a visit as it is when the rural people bring in their handicrafts to sell to retailers. Manzini’s only other point of interest is its original Catholic mission, an elegant stone building opposite the new cathedral; it is not open to casual visitors.

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