Ancient rituals, rare rhinos and rugged ranges: welcome to Swaziland
Swaziland encompasses the best of Africa in one neat package.
This tiny nation – landlocked to the north-east of South Africa – packs an assortment of adventures, landscapes and pre-colonial heritage into an area smaller than Wales.
Swaziland is one of Africa’s last remaining monarchies, and is bursting with tradition. Witness vigorous Sibhaca dancing at Mantenga Cultural Village; or take in the Umhlanga Festival, when thousands of women perform the ‘reed dance’ for the king. Equally as lively is the Great Usuthu River, which flows east through valleys and mountainous rainforest, perfect for rafters and trekkers. For a different take on the highlands, venture to the Shewula Mountain Camp, a community-run ecotourism hotspot that gives visitors the chance to experience authentic daily life while benefiting local people. There are some wonderful places to stay too, including the famous Foresters Arms – a quintessential country house hotel deep in the forests of Swaziland.
Swaziland has plenty to satisfy safari-goers too. Track down big game in the hot, dry lowveld or seek out birds in the rocky highveld. Then begin your search for black and white rhino at the Mkhaya Game Reserve – the black rhino is nearing extinction, having long been hunted for its horns, but Swaziland is something of a refuge for this endangered species.
In short, Swaziland punches well above its weight. “It’s a revelation,” confirms Nick Boulos, regular Wanderlust contributor and the British Travel Press Awards’ Travel Writer of the Year, who recently visited Swaziland. “Not only are the potential wildlife encounters extraordinary, but the people are just as wonderful.”
Look out for Nick's article on visiting Swaziland in Wanderlust later this year...