Bespoke Tailor Made Holidays & Honeymoons to Swaziland
The Kingdom of Swaziland is a tiny country and a big heart. Warm friendly people welcome you to their fascinating home which embraces and keeps their unique and ancient tradtitions. This is the only country that has an absolute monarchy in Africa – the current King is Mswati III. Easy to include in a tour of South Africa, Swaziland has a lot packed into it’s small borders – comparatively it’s slightly smaller than Wales! The official language is Swazi though English is widely spoken.
The geography of Swaziland ranges from the mountainous and temperate Highveld in the west through the Hhohho region to the Middleveld which is sub tropical and central and the Lowveld to the east. The Lubombo Mountains form the eastern border with Mozambique. Most of the population are concentrated in the Ezulwini Valley. The capital and main airport is at Mbabane and the commercial centre is found at Manzini.
Culture and Ceremonies
The amazing cultural heritage of Swaziland is a main tourism attraction. The famous Umhalanga (Reed Dance) usually takes place in late August or early September and attract young maidens from all over the Kingdom, providing the opportunity to honour the Queen Mother. The Incwala Ceremony (first fruits) is the most sacred of the Swazi rituals and usually is held in December or January, the date picked by astrologers depending on the phases of the sun and moon. The King plays the dominant role here and the ceremony involves tens of thousands of Swazis, attracting visitors from all over the world. Apart from these major ceremonies, dancing and traditional costumes are to be found throughout the country at all times of the year.
Handicrafts and Arts
The handicrafts of Swaziland are world famous, in line with their ancient culture you will find traditional arts and crafts here. Creative basketware is made in vibrant colours, glassware, candles, batiks, wood and stone carvings can be found everywhere. There are lots of villages where you can stop and watch craftspeople and artisans at work such as at Piggs Peak. At Ngwenya there is the site of the oldest known mine in the world, Lion Cavern. The views are breathtaking and visitors can enjoy an information centre and visit the glass factory where you can witness the art of glass blowing. Glass items made here are 100% recycled and for sale in the shop and at other craft centres in Swaziland.
Wildlife and Natural History
The scenery of Swaziland is stunning and apart from deserts and oceans, features every geographical area of Africa’s terrain. There are magnificent mountains, rivers, waterfalls and gorges. Fabulous for hiking holidays and bird watching, the kingdom is home to some of the world’s oldest rock formations, lush valleys and more typical African bush. The borders east to west are less than 125 miles apart but altitude varies from 21m to 1800m above sea level.The best known waterfalls in Swaziland are Mantenga Falls in a nature reserve of the same name. You can explore here by car, on foot or bike and there is an interesting cultural village here. Other outdoor activities to be enjoyed here include horse riding, mountain biking or quad biking. Adventures can be had in treetop canopy tours, white water rafting or adventure caving.
For wildlife holidays, Swaziland has several game parks and nature reserves, protecting a variety of animals. The big five are found here, highlights that you may not see elsewhere on your holiday include both Black and White Rhino. There is no mass tourism here or queues of vehicles but there are plenty of chances to get out and walk, experience your African Safari on foot and learn about the bush and tracking skills. The most visited wildlife park in the country is Mkhaya Game Reserve which has buffalo and black rhino and walking safaris are a highlight here. There are around 500 species of bird recorded in this tiny country. Another beautiful area for river walks and mountains can be found at Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve. The earliest game park to be established here is Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary which opened in 1964. There are no dangerous animals here (apart from Hippo!) so it’s a great option for walking or biking. There are horse riding trails here and a botanical garden. The 60,000 ha Lubumbo Conservancy is the greatest concentration of nature reserves in Swaziland and has wonderful scenery and a wide range of flora and fauna. The Hlane Royal National Park has four of the big five (including lions). The private Mbuluzi Game Reserve is bordered by the Mbuluzi River and the Lubombo Mountains and offers, game viewing, birding, cycling, walking and fishing. Beautiful scenery can be enjoyed at Mlawula Nature Reserve with 10km of walking trails. The first ever community tourism project was Shewula Mountain Camp which offers various activities including visits to an orphanage and donkey cart rides.
However you would like to visit Swaziland, get in touch and I can find you the right escorted tour or group adventure holiday, or book you a hire car so you can self drive – but if you prefer to be guided and have your own private arrangements, ask me to tailor make a holiday for you. Swaziland is easilly combined with neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique.