Our Incredible Trip To Swaziland
Swaziland- the name by itself sounds exotic, and I was really excited about visiting Swaziland. There was so much I had read about the country and was keen on starting our trip. Swaziland is a landlocked country, surrounded by Mozambique in the east and by South Africa west, south and north. This small little country is home to a multitude of wildlife, culture and tradition.
We started our holiday by visiting Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, which is Swaziland’s oldest game park. It was set up in 1950’s to preserve and conserve Swaziland’s natural heritage. The game park is 4,560 hectares and the reserve has animals like antelope, warthog, zebra’s and crocodiles. The Hippo Restaurant was the perfect spot to have a bite for lunch and watch the animals come to the pond for their afternoon feed. It was a perfect start to day one of our holiday in Swaziland.
The next day we decided to peruse the wonderful and colourful Manzini market. Though it was a typical African market with all the hustle and bustle and dirt and noise and it was real fun. We got to see some local crafts and exquisite jewellery and managed to buy quite a few souvenirs like wood carvings and other mementos for us to take back home. We even got to try on a traditional dress with all the animal skin and spears! It was quite an authentic African experience. We took quite a few pictures to keep alive this true African experience.
The same day we also went to visit the King Sobhuza Li Memorial Park and National Museum. The museum according to the locals was a must see as it captivates origins of the Swazi culture and traditional attire and also the history of Swaziland. The museum is named after the king who helped bring independence to Swaziland .For us, what caught our attention was the traditional dress section. The men in Swazi culture wore a lion cloth called “emahiya” and the women wore a lion apron and a skirt made of animal skin. The museum had old photographs and other curios depicting the history and culture of Swaziland. The museum also showed the great love of nature the Swazi culture had.
The other soul enriching experience we wanted to try was at the Mikhaya Game Reserve where could visit and work a bit alongside the Black and White Rhino’s. We were invited to stay at the reserve by my friend’s friend and we were really looking forward to the experience. These Rhinos are known to have terrible eyesight and are thus blessed with a heightened sense of smell. It was just wonderful to feel the leathery skin of these magnificent mammals .The White Rhinos have a yellowish brown to slate grey and Black Rhinos have a grey/white/brown colour. Their enormous daunting -horn made me wonder how improbably shaped their heads are as a result and the meaning of up close and personal with the White and Black Rhino’s took an entire different turn. The feeling of just kneeling in the dust and listening to them breathe and observe these private creatures was an experience I cannot put in words or describe.
Swaziland though small as a country has lots to offer its visitors. And we were eager to see it all. Swaziland thanks to its proximity to Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa and its perfect location is blessed with unbridled scenery and ever so friendly people. Swaziland’s high majestic mountains and luscious landscapes with diverse wildlife, flora and fauna and its unspoilt terrain makes it’s the perfect holiday destination to recuperate. The perfect way to enjoy this wonderful scenery is, horseback riding. We took a local guide and went horseback riding through the country side and saw the exquisite side of Swaziland. It was a lovely day and we had a lovely picnic lunch along one of the horse trails and enjoyed the rest of the day cantering here and there.
The next day we decided to visit the Mantenga Cultural Village. The village was like a living museum that represented Swazi way of life and tradition in the 1850’s.The basic aim was to be able to show visitors and also teach local Swazi people about their own tradition and culture and to preserve it and keep it alive. Traditional Swazi folklore, arts and craft, dance and music is displayed with great pomp and show. The village had beehive shaped grass and reed huts all built with traditional materials. We were met by a Swazi guide who took us around and showed us the day to day life and home of a Swazi family. We got to try grinding maize the traditional way .Throughout the day we were entertained by dance performances and even got treated by a traditional healer. The evening ended with us having dinner at the River Café where we got to enjoy dishes that were both traditional yet western.
We decided we needed a little more of action in our holiday and wanted to hike up to the Mantenga Waterfalls. Though it was possible to drive to the falls, we felt that hiking up was perfect way of adding some exercise into our holiday. The waterfalls are surrounded by beautiful scenery of rugged mountains which are rich and abundant in colour thanks to the exquisite flora and fauna around. We got to see a number of birds as well. There were several picnic spots along the trail that are close to the river bed. We decided to try the restaurant in the reserve which was quite good. We came back well and totally satiated from the lovely hike.
Swaziland is very special when it comes to wildlife safaris. We contacted one of the leading operators in outdoor activities called Swazi Trails and enjoyed a full day safari in the Hlane Royal National Park Safari. The park is approximately and hour from Mbabane .Our day started with a two and a half hour walk to see game close up on foot. Of course we had the Park Ranger walking with us. We then stopped for lunch at the camps restaurant overlooking the waterhole. Lunch is included in the full day trip. We the got into open vehicles where we got to see lions and cheetah’s and took lots of photographs along the way. The tour ended with a drop back to Mbabane. It was an absolutely amazing day.
We wanted to do a bit of White Water Rafting and contacted Swazi Trails again as they seemed the best suited in these kinds of activities. It was great fun and booked the half day rafting trip. This included lunch and a whole load of other goodies in the package. The trip was along 7kms of the river and mostly through the popular rapids. It was action packed and full of energy. We took a lot of pictures too!
Our final day in Swaziland we decided to drive through the Usutu Forest. The drive through the mountains was beautiful. We got to see the lovely pine trees and a whole host of different birds. As we drove along we stopped at a few mini markets along the roadside and picked up some handiworks and crafts and listened to many fascinating tales from the locals. The entire drive was so peaceful that all we could do was sit back and enjoy the splendid beauty of nature that surrounded us.
Our trip to Swaziland was better than best and it was an experience that I will truly never forget.