Photo Credit: Clinton Jonker

Although many people try to explore all of Swaziland’s attractions in just one or two days as part of a South African extension, visitors who stay a week or longer will discover much more of what the country has to offer. Mbabane may be Swaziland’s official capital and Manzini the country’s business hub, but Swaziland’s royal and legislative capital is the bush village of Lobamba. This is the home of Swaziland’s King Mswati III, the world’s only remaining absolute monarch. Most Swaziland attractions, however, lie within the borders of the nation’s nine wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves, and national parks.

Hlane Royal National Park

Hikers can come face to face with lions, elephants, or dozens of other large African wildlife species in this national park that sits 40 miles northeast of Manzini. Africa’s highest density of white-backed vultures and the world’s southernmost marabou stork nesting colony are just two of this park’s exotic bird species. Expert Swazi guides can lead visitors on Land Rover game drives, bird watching excursions, mountain biking trails, and even visits to an authentic chief’s village. All overnight Ehlatsini Bush Trails are fully catered in this park whose name appropriately translates to ‘wilderness.’ Address: Hlane Royal National Park, Mbabane Phone: +268 528 3943 Website:

Malolotja Nature Reserve

Swaziland’s last stretch of unspoiled mountain wilderness and biggest official protected area is also the least touristy of the country’s nature reserves. Although Malolotja doesn’t contain as much large wildlife as other Swaziland protected areas, it boasts some of the world’s oldest mountains and almost 300 bird species, including a rare bald ibis colony close to the nearly 312 foot high Malolotja Falls. The Malolotja Nature Reserve also contains the 43,000-year old Ngwenya Mine, the world’s oldest mine. Address: n/a Phone: +268 442 4241 Website:

Mlawula Nature Reserve

Swaziland’s western dry savannas meet the country’s moister eastern section at this northeast reserve. The nature reserve’s borders include the Mbuluzi River’s north bank, the Hlane Wildlife Sanctuary, and two more nature reserves, Mbuluzi and Simunye. The volcanic and fairly young Lubombo Mountains form the reserve’s border with Mozambique and are Mbuluzi’s most impressive natural landmarks. Wild animals roam the low-lying Siphiso Valley. Snakes and lizards swim in the Python Pool, while the view of the reserve from the Khabane Cave is well worth the steep climb. The reserve’s hiking trail network is 30 miles long. Address: Lubombo, Swaziland Phone: +268 0383 8885 Website:

Mkhaya Nature Reserve

This southeast Swaziland nature reserve is the country’s main endangered species refuge. The Swazi Nguni, a rare cattle breed found nowhere else on Earth, was the first species to be saved from extinction here, but black rhino are another rare breed that roams freely in this unspoiled wilderness. Friendly local staff host and manage the nature reserve’s Stone Camp, where visitors can spend nights walking under the stars and sleeping beneath a lush forested canopy. Address: Eastern Swaziland Phone: +268 528 3943 Website:

Mantenga Nature Reserve

The flowing Mantenga Waterfalls, the endangered bald ibis, and the Mantenga Swazi Cultural Village are this small reserve’s main attractions. The cultural village’s 16 huts accurately depict typical Swazi life from the 1850s and lie just over a mile from the nearest tar road. All of the huts were built from dried cow dung, soil, reeds, poles, grass, and other traditional materials. Each hut has its own special purpose, and each village tour includes consultations with traditional healers, traditional dance performances, meals at a nearby restaurant, and walks to Mantenga Falls. Address: Western Swaziland Phone: n/a Website:

Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary

None of Swaziland’s official protected areas are older or welcome more visitors than Mlilwane, whose former Ezulwini Valley tin mining and farming area has been converted into the ‘Valley of Heaven.’ Most of Milwane’s tourist activities take place in the southern grassland section, which visitors can easily explore on horseback or foot, or by bicycle. The sanctuary’s most dominant landmark, however, is Nyonyane Mountain. Address: Western Swaziland Phone: +268 528 3943 Website:

Ngwenya Glass Factory

The world’s oldest mine, the 43,000-year old Lion Cavern, forms the backdrop to this popular Malolotja Nature Reserve glass factory in Swaziland. Every weekday, visitors can watch the glassblowers make stunning creations out of 100 percent recycled glass prior to purchasing them at the property showroom. Glass products include vases, jugs, tableware, and elaborate animal ornaments. Another nearby craft center sells further Swazi handicrafts and souvenirs. Address: P. O. Box 45, Motshane H104 Phone: +268 2442 4053 Website:

Swazi Candles Craft Center

The talented artisans at the Swazi Candles Craft Center use an ancient technique called millefiore to make their exquisite handmade candles. Although the Ancient Egyptians and Venetians first used milleflore, or the “thousand flowers” technique, with glass beads, the Swazi candle makers use a specially made hard wax to make their candles, which take much longer to melt than most candles. Batik and wood crafts are sold at the adjacent craft center. Address: P. O. Box 172, Malkerns Phone: +268 2528 3219 Website:

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