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Top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Swaziland

Best Places to Visit in Swaziland

Bordering Mozambique and southeast Africa, the lush, mountainous kingdom of Swaziland, now officially known as eSwatini, is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. This small but beautiful land of emerald hills, rivers, ravines, rolling valleys and waterfalls is a hiker’s Paradise. The nature reserve is the main attraction here, and although there are only a handful of five species (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), all offer an intimate game viewing experience, beautiful scenery and a rich species diversity.

Swaziland also proudly preserves its fascinating culture, traditions and festivals. Visitors are welcome to watch some of the festivities at Invara, an impressive three-week royal ceremony in December and January, as well as a lively reed dance ceremony in Umhran during the last week of August or the first week of September. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Swaziland and make your trip enjoyable.

10 Best Places to Visit in Swaziland

Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Swaziland:

1. Mlawula Nature Reserve

The beautiful and diverse Mlawula Nature Reserve occupies a transitional zone from the plains to the Lebombo Mountains. The scenery here ranges from dry savanna to rolling green valleys and lush riverine forests, with mountains rising south to north along the Mozambique border. Thanks to contrasting ecoregions, wildlife is diverse, including 60 species of animals large and small, including antelope, kudu, impala, and turtle, as well as 350 bird species, many insects, and an impressive array of flora.

The nearly 54 kilometers of trails allow for self-guided safaris, and as there are no lions or elephants, guests are free to enjoy safe walks on trails that range from short 1.5-kilometer hikes to full-day hikes. Fishing is also very popular. Accommodation includes campsites, luxury suite tents and cabins. The reserve is also bordered by the Mbuluzi and Simunye Nature Reserves and the Hlane Wildlife Sanctuary.

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2. Mantenga Reserve

Located in the picturesque Ezulwini Valley, Mantenga Nature Reserve offers an interesting experience of the nature and culture of Swaziland. This 725-hectare compact reserve is home to the Mantenga Cultural Village, which recreated life in Swaziland in the 1850s. Here, tourists can learn about Swaziland culture and traditions with a guide, participate in activities such as weaving mountain grass, grinding the valleys, and watch the impressive traditional song and dance performances.

A highlight of the reserve is the stunning Mantenga Falls, Swaziland’s most famous waterfall with the largest volume of water. The reserve also protects wildlife such as baboons, vervet monkeys, bush babies, porcupines, rock hyrax, servals, leopards, and various antelopes, as well as numerous birds. Visitors can explore the reserve on foot, with their own vehicle or by mountain bike. Day visitors are welcome, and overnight visitors can stay at Mantenga Lodge on the reserve.

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3. Swaziland festivals

Experiencing Swaziland’s rich culture and friendly people is the highlight of visiting this place. Travelers are welcome to watch some of the festivities of these two major festivals. Umhlanga, the animated reed dance ceremony, is the most famous festival in Swaziland. It takes place in the last week of August or the first week of September, and young women from all over the country come here for a delightful cabaret show.

In December and January, Incwala is an impressive royal ceremony that lasts about three weeks. The festivities begin with representatives of the Bermantian people who draw water from all the major rivers in Swaziland and gather at the new moon. The young man then built a royal pen in Lobamba from the branches of the Lusekwani tree and other plants. The “wonderful day” ends with the king wearing his best robes, symbolically tasting the first fruits of the harvest, followed by cheerful singing and dancing.

4. Shewula Mountain Camp

Shewula Mountain Camp, Swaziland’s first ecotourism project, opened in 2000, is located on the top of Lebombo, just 20 minutes from the Mozambique and Lomahasha border post. The 2,650-hectare camp, all owned by the local community, offers stunning views of Hlane Royal National Park and the Mubuluzi and Mlwulu Nature Reserves in the plains below.

There is so much to do here at different costs. Top picks include a guided cultural tour of a local village, where you can interact with the residents and learn about their daily life. There is also the opportunity to meet a traditional Swazi healer known as Sangoma. Other options include watching a dance show, mountain biking or hiking to the Mblouse River and Gorge. Guests can visit Shewulu during the day or spend the night in one of the rondavel cottages.

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5. Hlane Royal National Park

The Hlane (“wildlife”) sanctuary is home to the largest wildlife population in the country and is one of the few places in Swaziland where visitors have a chance to see lions, elephants and rhinos. Birdwatchers will also be delighted at the 22,000-hectare reserve, which is home to a wide variety of species, including the white-backed bald eagle, which has the highest breeding density on the continent. Visitors should take a guided amusement ride to see the lions living in the separate enclosures, but self-guided tours are allowed in other areas of the park.

Besides wildlife watching, activities here include guided mountain biking, cultural visits to nearby Swazi villages, bird watching trails, and full-service bush walk at night. The second campground offers a self-contained stone hut with modern amenities, while guests can choose between a no-energy experience or a traditional lighthouse at the campsite.

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6. Mbuluzi Game Reserve

The privately-owned Mbuluzi Game Reserve offers a peaceful sanctuary on the banks of the crocodile-filled Mlawula River. The main activity here is a self-guided wildlife tour with giraffes, zebras, kudu, coyotes, antelopes and nyalas by day and hyenas, genus, servals and honey badger by night. Bird watching is also particularly rewarding, with more than 300 species, including the beautiful Narina trogon.

Visitors can hike on iconic nature trails, mountain bike on jeep trails, and fish in two rivers. Accommodation is diverse. Options range from riverside campsites and safari tents to several family hotels. While the reserve is nowhere near the Big Five (leopards, lions, elephants, buffalo and rhinos), guests have free access to the neighboring Mlawula Game Reserve and Hlane Royal National Park, home to white rhinos and elephants.

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7. Lobamba

In the beautiful Ezulwini Valley (Valley of Paradise), Lobamba is the spiritual and cultural heart of Swaziland. This cozy town is home to the Swazi monarchy and its most important buildings. Here visitors will find the Lobamba Royal Village, the Royal Corral, the Houses of Parliament, the National Museum, and other government buildings.

The king held audiences at the grand Embo State Palace, the grand state capitol built in 1978 for ceremonies and other state events, but none of the buildings are open to the public. But tourists can visit the Capitol. Also in Lobamba, Somhlolo Stadium is a venue for important cultural and sporting events, national celebrations, concerts, dance performances and King’s speeches.

8. Swazi Market, Mbabane

Swaziland’s cool-climate capital, Mbabane, is home to the must-see Swazi Market for souvenir-seeking travelers. It is located at the southern end of Allister Miller Street, the town’s main shopping street. The stalls here are stocked with fresh produce, pottery, handmade baskets, masks, traditional fabrics, talc carvings, and beaded jewellery. Of particular interest is the Traditional Medicine Center, which has an impressive collection of medicinal lotions and potions.

About an hour’s drive away, shoppers can see more Swazi handicrafts, including baskets, jewelry, and textiles at Tintsaba Crafts next to the Piggs Peak Hotel. A pleasant trip from Mbabane is through the beautiful Pine Valley to the north of the city. The route follows the Umbeluzi River and passes many waterfalls. It is a great country for hiking and horse riding, with pleasant temperatures even in summer.

9. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in the beautiful Ezulwini Valley, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Swaziland’s first and most popular wildlife sanctuaries. King II. It was founded by Ted and Elizabeth Reilly, who, with Sobhuza’s support, transformed their farm in Mlilwane into a wildlife sanctuary. The non-profit Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary has reached 4,560 hectares of wilderness surrounded by the Nyonya (“Land of the Birds”) mountains.

Flora and fauna were originally introduced from far away by the reserve, but today the Mlilwane Conservation Area is home to over 400 bird species and many animals, including zebras, vervet monkeys, crocodiles, wild boar, caracals, hippos and antelopes.

The reserve offers many activities. The program includes hunting trips, nature walks, mountain biking, horseback riding, rural cultural experiences and swimming in the recreational camp’s pool. Accommodation appeals to campers and backpackers as well as those seeking more comfort and includes well-appointed cottages, traditional Swazi-style honeycomb huts and luxury hill lodges.

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10. Malolotja Nature Reserve

In northwest Swaziland, the 18,000-hectare Malolotja Nature Reserve is the largest protected area in the country. The name translates to “a river with many streams and waterfalls,” as the reserve is cut by the Malolottea River, which creates a series of waterfalls, including the country’s highest waterfall, Malolottea Falls. Habitats range from wetlands and grasslands to dense riparian forests, and wildflowers brighten the beautiful landscape in spring and summer.

One of the reserve’s best features for tourists is the network of hiking trails and many backpacker camps that allow for multi-day wilderness treks. The fauna is known for its abundance of reptiles and birds, including breeding colonies of endangered species such as blue cranes and white-headed ibises. Resident mammals include the rock hyrax, eland, and zebra. A fun way to experience the reserve is to fly through the forest on a Treetop Canopy Tour zipline.

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Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Swaziland. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Swaziland, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.

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