Let me tell you the first thought I had about Swaziland: It is just worth a two-day trip from South Africa. A must-see when being around. One more visa in the passport to pimp it up. But I was wrong: There is far more to see than expected. And what really stroke me is the joyful atmosphere and the landscape’s beauty.
There are at least 3 good reasons to expand your planned one-day-trip:
- Relaxed nature reserves
- Wonderful handcraft
- Cultural events
I won’t tell you more about the peaceful landscape, the friendly people and the tasty food. Just stay a while and it will lead you to spectacular new travel experiences.
Nature reserves – close-up experience
The only areas you shouldn’t come too close are the ponds. There are crocodiles and hippos –we were lucky to see a couple of crocs floating like tree trunks in the lake. Their target were birds sitting on a branch over the lake. So there is the chance to see a “kill” too, even if there are no cats of prey around.
Special hint: Stay one night at a game reserve and experience a morning drive or walk. You will see wildlife that hides during the hot day.
Handcraft – shop until you drop
Plenty of markets present beautiful handcrafted stuff: Baskets, vivid-coloured fabrics, wooden art, and handmade candles. The diversity in forms, colours and style is incredible. Here are one of my favourites:
- Mantenga Craft Centre: It rewards your visit with individual art pieces and sculptures. We discovered the same things we found on Johannesburg’s traditional markets before at double or triple the price.
- Ngwenya glass fabric: You can watch how hot glass is transferred into carafes, animal figures or wine glasses. An amazing and sweaty experience that may lead to an incredible piece in your suitcase.
- Malandela’s Homestead: This is the weaver’s homeland, where you can watch how straw is getting colorized. And how women process it to grandiose mats or baskets.
Special hint: Take along enough money. It is not always easy to find an ATM outside from the capital Mbabane.
Cultural events – update your calendar
There will be traditional performances that will take your breath away. The House on Fires is an amazing architectural artwork, full of mosaic pieces and colourful details. In evenings it transforms into a popular place for concerts or performances. We unfortunately missed the occasions – so learn from my mistake.
Special hint: Inform yourself on Swaziland’s Website about cultural events: http://www.thekingdomofswaziland.com
Swaziland may be small in size, but it is rich in culture, diverse in landscapes and offers a big diversity to the traveller’s heart.
Feel the spirit of the country. Dive into it. And you will never forget it.