You need a government permit to take pictures at the Reed Festival. Don't think you can just show up and wonder around and take photos - you can't. This is an ancient and sacred ceremony that has to be treated with great respect. And they have plenty of security. Plan ahead if you wish to attend.
You just cannot escape this fact. Up to, and possibly over, 50,000 young women dance either with one breast exposed - or both. That is 100,000 breasts. There are elaborate dances, ceremonies, costumes and pagentry. The reason this ceremony is so famous and photographed is obvious. Unfortunately it obscures the reason and traditions for many visitors.
At the end of the Ceremony the king is allowed to pick one of the maidens to be one (of his many) wives. The current King, Mswati III, choose a 16 year old girl in 2004 to be wife number 12. Each wife gets their own house, servants and a BMW. Girls do not have to attend the ceremony, but getting married to the King is a sever possibility. He is a total Monarch and can do as he pleases. One of the few absolute royal rulers in the world left.
Maybe the only reason spending a night here in Manzini, is to wait for the long-distance buses or catch a plane at Matsapha Airport nearby. Manzini is the business center of Swailand, a transportation hub both for domestic and international routes. So westernized, with lots of shopping complexes/malls, chain restaurants like KFC and Pizza Hut. Nothing really interesting about the city, esp. if the reason visiting Swaziland is to experience the traditional culture/way-of-life.....Anyhow, if you have a chance dropping by, Manzini Market is the place where you should spend some times.
Another Swazi's National Park...unlike the famous 'Godfather' Kruger Park which is turning to be too commercial, Mkhaya is yet untouched. You can expect to see 3 of the Big Five here; Rhinos (lots of'em), buffaloes, and elephants....too bad there're no CATS in this park. Day-tour and overnight stay available, advance booking needed. It was a great experience spending a night in what they call 'Stone Camp' -- an open-plan stone cottage, outdoor toilet/shower and no electricity at night!!! GREAT FUN!!
Some other animals you're likely to see at Mkhaya: Antelopes, Wilderbeests, Inhalas, Impalas, Giraffes, Zebras, Kudus, Hippos, Gators, Mongoose, Iguanas,...DUNG BEETLES.
If you're thinking about buying something back home for souvenirs, here's the place. As you deal directly with the crafters themselves, the price is somewhat really acceptable. From small tiny little pieces of wood and silverwork to large-scale sculptures.
+a short cultural walking trail at the Mantenga Lodge.
Swazi Trails office (tour agency) at one end of the craft center.
Very colorful and vibrant, but can be a little too busy sometimes.
This is the place where all the trading activities going on. The flux of agricultural and other products from all over Africa. - What makes this market so unique and is 'a must' whenever you're here in Manzini. Located just behind the main bus station, with endless array of stalls, from veggies to consumer electronics!! Be very careful of pick-pockets, this is for real. Buy lots of fresh fruits; green apples, mangoes, whatever, they're all good and I mean 'dirt cheap.'
A perfect trail for up-close animal viewing (antelopes, zebras, hippos, warthogs, ostriches, all kinds of harmless ones) Spend a whole day walking or cycling around the park, (and a visit to Umphakatsi Chief's Village) and a short evening break to Ezulwini Valley nearby. And as the senset, there's a huge BBQ facility right at the heart of the rest camp. Ask your fellow travellers to join the feast or just self-cook in one of the Lotweni traditional cottages.
--Try not to buy anything from the camp, it's all overpriced. Prepare everything you need from home or get'em from Pick 'n' Pay supermarket at the Ezulwini Valley--
Mlilwane Wildlife Sunctuary also offers a visit to traditional Swazi's village.
Though you all might know there's no such thing nowadays. This is pretty much like role-playing characters, or 'fake' in a short word. But still worth seeing anyways. You'll be taken into an old-school way-of-life of traditional Swazi people; the beehive huts, singing songs, dancing with their music and stuff. Ending up, as usual, they'll try to sell you hand-made crafts or ask for some money donation.
A 1-hour show costs you 25E (equal to SA Rand.)
Advance booking essential. Min pax of 4.
Admittedly, Mbabane is not one of the most inspiring capital cities in the world. Anyway, I think it's worth a visit, if for nothing else for seeing the Swazi Market . Check out my Mbabne page at
Bushman paintings offer a unique glimpse into a mysterious way of life shrounded in mystery that is between four hundred and four thousand years old.
Bantu speaking people first arrived in Swaziland in about 450 AD from the north, this is the only known Bushman painting of them with cattle and sheep in Swaziland.The caves was once the site of sacred rain making ceremonies. Access is along a mountained trail with trained guides to show the route and interpret the paintings. The Nsangwini Bushman paintings are managed and maintained by the Nsangwini community with a reservations, reception and orientation office at the start of the trail.Secure parking is provided and safety along the trails assured. All profits from the scheme are reinvested in the community.
There are plenty of opportunities to experience Horse riding in Swaziland as there are many operators scattered all over. I have personally done this a few times and while I wouldnt describe it as an adrenaline rush I would certainly say it is a fantastic experience all the same
The Cultural Village is a living museum of all things traditional and represents classical Swazi Lifestyle during the 1850’s. The objective of the village is to enable Swazi’s from all corners of the country to reach out to it and maintain a positive interest on their cultural heritage including; language; customs; practices; rituals; dance; music; folklore; arts and crafts as well as show (tourists) our cultural achievements to other people.
The "Heavenly Place", in the Middleveld, turn to the Timbali Caravan Park, the "Cuddle puddle", the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel and Casino Complex, Mantenga Craft, the Mantenga Lodge and the Mlilwane Game Sanctuary are all to the right of the road.
The Lobamba has been the spiritual capital of the Swazi Nation for around 150 years and is the site of the impressive House of Parliament which may be photographed from the outside. Nearby is King Sobhuza II monument, the National Museum, the Somhlolo National Stadium, venue for soccer matches and major public events, and the Emboss State Palace which visitors may not approach, nor photograph, without proper authority.
The eastern half of Swaziland, comprising the Lowveld and Lubombo geographical regions, is largely devoted to cattle ranching and the production of sugar.
The area is also home to three of Swaziland's nature reserves; Hlane, straddling the main road between Tshaneni and Siteki; nearby Mlawula, on the Mocambique border; and Mkhaya, close to Siphofaneni.
Yet again, Eastern Swaziland is the region where the country's rivers' fed by Highveld streams, reach full maturity. The Mlumati, Komati, Mbuluzi, Usushwana, Nqwempisi, Mkhondo, Ngwavuma and, the greatest of all, the Usutu, cross the area in their journey to Mocambique and the Indian Ocean