The population of Swaziland is currently around 1 million people. The country is landlocked and is primarily surrounded by the South African province of Mpumalanga, but is also bordered by Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mocambique.
The country is fairly mountainous, (although not on a par with Lesotho). It was made a British protectorate in1906, and gained independence in 1968. It is still an absolute monarchy, Swaziland provides no danger whatsoever to travellers. Whilst there you will see the face of King Mswati III, just about everywhere

The first tribe to settle in the area originally came from Mocambique around 1750. The tribe eventually became settled under Sobhuza I, who joined many smaller clans to his. His son Mswati (after whom the Swazi's are named) established links with the Afrikaners, in an effort by both groups to ward off the threat of the Zulus. In 1894 the area became a South African protectorate, but obviously after the second Anglo-Boer war control was assumed by Britain.
The British established sugar plantations, and an iron ore mine. Sugar is still the major export today. Whilst in British hands, King Sobhuza II concentrated on buying up land within the area, and by the time of independence he owned over half the country. The country became independent and elections were held. In the first elections the Kings party took all of the seats, in 1973 in the second democratic elections 3 seats were won by a Pan-Africanist party. Following this political parties were banned in the country. There is a parliament but final authority rests with the king.
The current king is Mswati III, he has faced some unrest from the people and the creation of the Peoples United Democratic Movement. There is also outside pressure from other African nations for the Swazi's to hold real democratic elections.


Mountain Biking

There are 3 options available
Lobamba Trail: . First part of the day explores Mantenga Nature Reserve with lovely natural scenery, waterfalls and a 19th century Swazi cultural village in pristine settings. Learn about the traditions and beliefs of the Swazi Nation, as preserved in a living museum, then head on to Lobamba - a real modern day hive of life and activity. Follow your friendly guide on a trail of interaction, meeting people, visiting homes, tasting Swazi beer at a shebeen, roasting bits of meat on fire, buying fruit at the market and generally mixing with people in way that you can only do on a bicycle. Highlights include; Mantenga Nature Reserve, waterfall and cultural village, Lobamba Village, homesteads, Ludzidzini, home to the Swazi Queen Mother, National Museum, King Sobhuza II Memorial Park, Houses of Parliament, National Stadium and the possibility of meeting high-ranking members of Swazi society.
Mountian Bike Safari: Enjoy a half-day excursion to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and get eye-to-eye with giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, kudu, nyala, waterbuck, blesbok, impala, hippopotamus and crocodile. Under the careful guidance of a Swazi guide, follow tracks and trails through the gentle hills and valleys of this scenic area. Ideal for photography & bird watching.
Swaziland Explorer: This is the ultimate, all-in-one-day bicycle tour. Combines the Lobamba and Bike Safari tours, with a great lunch venue included. A relaxed pace and flexible routing makes this achievable by most. If your time in Swaziland is limited and you want to see it all - the people, the wildlife, and the scenery this is the way to do it. Our guides are friendly and informative and enjoy offering the insights into life in Africa that this day outing promises.

Usutu Extreme Adventure

Trips leave from the Swazi Trails office at Mantenga Craft Centre, Ezulwini at 09h00. For those without transport, free hotel or lodge pick-ups are offered in the Ezulwini- Mbabane-Manzini area prior to this. There is safe parking for vehicles at Mantenga. Travelling time is 45min to the river, with transport provided in a closed tour vehicle. Participants who are exiting Swaziland to the south (Lavumisa/Golela) or west (Mahamba) immediately after the trip, may follow in their own vehicle to the river, so as to save time and distance later in the day. A light snack is enjoyed at the put-in (tea, coffee and muffins). The tubing trip is approximately is 4km and takes between 2 and 2.5 hours depending on group sizes. The day is split into a morning of tubing and an afternoon of abseiling. All trips start with a safety briefing. Participants float, paddle and portage their own tubes with occasional vigorous activity required. Abseiling is undertaken during the afternoon on a 15m high cliff alongside the Holomi Falls. This involves learning basic rope-work skills and then descending the cliff by means of a figure-8 apparatus. The activity is controlled by a guide using a safety line. There are also exciting cliff jump and rapp-jumping options for adrenaline junkies. The 10m cliff jump into the foaming pool at the base of the Holomi Falls is a highlight for those that attempt it. Lunch is a picnic-style affair, served normally at the Holomi Falls. The standard format is chicken/mayonnaise, ham, or cheese bread rolls, fruit, chocolates/icecream and juice. The trip ends with sundowner drinks (beers & soft drinks) on the riverbank. The return journey takes approximately 1hr

White Water Rafting

The average full day trip length is 13km although a longer trip of 23km and the shorter of 7km (½ day) are undertaken on occasions. In low water conditions, the trip is split into a morning of rafting and an afternoon of abseiling. Note: As of 2003 we have substituted white water tubing for rafting in winter months (see Usutu Xtreme Fact Sheet) - its awesome fun! All rafting trips start with a thorough safety briefing and a flat-water stretch for practicing technique. Participants paddle and portage their own boats and must be prepared for vigorous activity. Lunch is a picnic-style affair. . The trip ends with sundowner drinks (beers & soft drinks) on the riverbank. The return journey takes approximately 1hr.

Horse Trails

Nyenza Stable:The Malkerns Meander: Departing mid-morning (11h00) this guided ride weaves through the adjacent farmlands of Malkerns crossing rivers and passing homesteads. After two hours a welcome break is taken at the lovely Malandelas Farmhouse Restaurant for a wholesome lunch characterised by fresh produce. The return ride is an hour back to Nyanza, ending mid-afternoon (15h00). The Nyanza Sundowner: Departing just as the sun begins to dip (15h30 winter, 16h30 summer this out ride takes advantage of the cooler hours of the day when shadows grow long and the farmlands of the Malkerns Valley are bathed in warm yellow light. Enjoy a 1.5 hour ride before returning to the Stables for some welcome refreshments of beer, wine or fruit juice. Simple snacks also included.
Hawane Stables: Highveld scenery adjacent to Malolotja Nature Reserve
45 min from Ezulwini Valley, 30 min from Mbabane, 30 min from Piggs Peak
Accommodation packages with horse riding included (1 hr to full day options)
Unique accommodation in high quality Swazi beehive style village
Qualified professional instructors and expert tuition available
Out-rides suited to skilled riders.
Lusoti Trails:4-hour Mountain Trail This exciting 3-4 hour option offers intermediate and experienced riders the opportunity to tackle the Nyonyane Mountain, otherwise known as the infamous Rock of Execution. Steep inclines and testing descents are the highlight, with open plains to stretch the earth beneath your mount. Expansive scenery, fresh mountain air, bubbling streams and abundant wildlife are features. The guides gauge the pace at that of the least experienced rider. This trail includes refreshments and light snacks. Same day bookings cannot be accommodated. Restricted to experienced riders only. Trips depart on demand - earliest 07h00 - latest 14h00, subject to seasonal variations. Overnight Trails The Nyagato Overnight Trail offers a choice of one to three nights of true trailing. A fascinating combination of habitats and scenery are what make this trail so interesting. Starting out through grassland plains the trail climbs the granite slopes of Nyonyane Mountain, then crosses the Lusushwana River, crossing to rural areas of Swazi dwelling on longer trails. Overnight campsites at Bushman caves and/or on the banks of the river add to the attraction. The terrain can be steep in places and riders may be requested to dismount and lead their horses.

Cultural Tours

Swazi Cultural Village:Hidden away in a beautiful valley framed by the towering Rock of Execution and the shapely Sheba's Breasts, is the Mantenga Nature Reserve. Within this valley, at the foot of the 30-metre high Mantenga Waterfall lies the Swazi Cultural Village. Visit Swaziland's top cultural attraction under the guidance of an informative Swazi Trails guide and study the history and culture of the legendary Swazi Nation, founded by the 1st Dlamini King, hundreds of years ago and today bound together by the Ngwenyama, His Majesty King Mswati III. Here a 19th century replica of a Swazi dwelling is the backdrop to a description of the day-to-day lifestyle of a traditional Swazi family. Fantastic photo opportunities abound with Swazi men, women and children dressed in traditional attire, going about their day-to-day homestead duties. Later on to the beat of echoing cowhide drums, traditional Swazi dancing is performed by a colourful and talented group of dancers in a nearby boma.
Sangoma traditional Healers:This unusual study tour introduces visitors to the fascinating and magical world of traditional healing, where instructions from eternal ancestors are coupled with the knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants to treat a wide variety of ailments. The winding dirt road we follow leads to the Swazi homestead of a sangoma, a traditional healer whose mysterious powers are hard to explain. Sit in front of the indumba or "spirit-house" and learn from your guide of the stringent training and examinations that tangoma undergo before being allowed to practice their skills. For those who dare to have the bones thrown for them, catch a glimpse of what the future holds for you, as the sangoma enters a trance and is embodied by an ancestral spirit.

Scenic Tours

Gone Rural:Gone Rural is a thriving craft enterprise that combines the talents of over 700 Swazi women in rural co-operatives to produce international quality woven grass products. You will recognize their range from the most exclusive homeward and décor shops around the world. Now you have the opportunity of following a trail literally to the roots of these lovely products. Lutindzi grass only grows in remotemountain areas. Enjoy an entertaining half-day tour to search out the source of this special grass and alight to meet some of the rural ladies who painstakingly weave the intricate grass designs. After refreshments return to the lovely valley of Malkerns, for a visit to the Gone Rural showroom and surrounding craft attractions. A final stop is made at the sprawling Mantenga Craft Centre, Swaziland's largest formal craft market.
Millwane Sundowners:What better way to end the day? Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is situated between the Ezulwini Valley and Malkerns. Its close proximity to many of the accommodation providing establishments in Mbabane, Manzini and Ezulwini make it an ideal venue for a tranquil escape from the day's hustle and bustle. Enjoy a scenic open Landrover drive through the Sanctuary, where herds of antelope, zebra and wildebeest dot the grassland plains and where hippo and crocodile co-exist with abundant birdlife in the many waterholes and lakes. Our exciting and tortuous route climbs to the very top of the Nyonyane Mountains where a scenic sundowner spot is the place for drinks and snacks. As the sun slowly sinks, enjoy tales of Swaziland from you friendly guide, before returning at dusk to the camp below.
Piggs Peak:Departing Ezulwini/Mbabane this tour promises a full day of mountain scenery, rural Swazi homesteads and historical features. Good craft shopping opportunities are also to be expected. Features include a scenic route past the Malolotja Nature Reserve and through the Komati River Valley, with numerous stops at roadside craft, historical and scenic sites. Then after winding on back roads through scenic rural landscapes, a community guide escorts us to the famous Nsangwini Bushman paintings, home to the "winged human" figures that have fascinated archaeologists across the globe. Note: This is a steep walk, down and then up on a rough and rocky track of approximately 30 minutes each way. If participants are unable to walk this distance, a scenic tour of Malolotja Nature Reserve is substituted instead. Then its on to Phophonyane Falls Lodge, hidden away in a beautiful private nature reserve teeming with birds, diverse plant life and continuous cascades of tumbling water. Lunch is enjoyed in the lodge's restaurant. After viewing of the main falls and a stop at Peak Fine Craft Centre, the 19th century gold rush town of Piggs Peak is explored on foot for its insights into the life of a now modern market town. Crossing the new 110m high Maguga Dam wall the tour returns via winding back roads to Mbabane, with superb viewing and photographic opportunities of rural Swazi community areas. A stop is made a Malandzela viewpoint, for a 360 degree view of Swaziland, before proceeding to the massive Sibebe Rock monolith - Swaziland's most famous geological feature, bathed in late afternoon light.

Photo gallery
Interesting Places

Interesting Places in Swaziland