Exploring Tourism in Swaziland
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Swaziland Overland Tour

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USD 1,800
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Day 1: Mlilwane Reserve Pick up at the Airport and quickly go for Game Drive at Mlilwane Reserve. Mlilwane is Swazilands pioneer conservation area, a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in Swazilands Valley of Heaven, the Ezulwini . .
Country: Swaziland
City: Manzini
Duration: 9 Day(s) - 8 Night(s)
Tour Category: Nature Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99
Package Itinerary

Day 1: Mlilwane Reserve

Pick up at the Airport and quickly go for Game Drive at Mlilwane Reserve. Mlilwane is Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in Swaziland’s “Valley of Heaven”, the Ezulwini Valley, with the huge Usutu Forest providing a dramatic backdrop stretching into the distant hills. The Sanctuary covers 4,560 hectares and comprises a southern and northern section.

The southern section is predominately open grassland plains with midlevel vegetation, stretching up onto the striking Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak known as the "Rock of Execution". Nyonyane is where ancient San once lived and where Swazi Royal graves are situated giving historical significance. As you drive through the reserve you will realise that you are already on your first game drive, keep an eye out for the abundant birdlife and nesting waterbirds, and animal species such as hippo, crocodile, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, impala, warthog, waterbuck and a host of antelope.

Driving across the dam, make sure that you look on the island, on the far right, as this is a popular place for hippos and crocodiles to sun themselves. Seldom seen, but present in the reserve is the ever-elusive leopard and a variety of smaller mammals like bushbaby, mongoose, aardwolf, genet, porcupine and civet. If you see one of these then you are exceptionally lucky! On arrival, there is time to check into your accommodation and then discover Mlilwane at your own pace.

You can explore the Sanctuary by foot, by vehicle, on horseback and on mountain bikes. Those who simply want to relax can sit back in camp and enjoy the tranquillity of nature. The choice is yours. History Mlilwane is Swaziland's oldest protected area owned and managed by a non-profit-making trust. Formerly a productive mixed farming operation, with extensive tin mining in the low foothills of the Nyonyane Mountains, the Sanctuary has been rehabilitated and is now Swaziland's most frequently visited reserve where one can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the abundant wildlife that grace the plains.

Mlilwane gave birth to the concept of nature conservation in the Kingdom but is also the root of virtually all that is nature conservation in Swaziland today. Ted Reilly, having witnessed the disappearance of wildlife in the years he was growing up, turned his 450 ha family farm, Mlilwane, into the Sanctuary as we know it today. Mlilwane has since grown to 10 times its original size, through the support of the Monarchy, international support and true individual dedication.

Overnight Beehive Huts

Day 2: Mantenga Reserve, Mantenga Village and Mantenga Waterfalls

Another leisurely start to the day, maybe a bit of bird watching by the waterhole or a stroll to see if the hippos are out sunning themselves. We then leave the park to go to Mantenga Reserve, only a short drive away. Mantenga is located behind the mountains of Mlilwane where there is a stunning waterfall and a traditional village where you can learn about the Swazi culture and how a traditional village is set you. Local villagers will show you around, explaining the roles of the head man and his wives, their firstborn and son and daughter and the traditional healer.

It gives valuable insight into Swazi Life... You will be greeted here and when there are enough people they will be a guided tour around a traditional village. Here you will learn about Swazi traditional life and what the roles and responsibilities of each family member are. After this there is also another opportunity to see traditional dancing – this is really good as it is excellent for photographic opportunities because it is done during the daytime.

This is performed twice daily once at 11.15 AM and the other at 15.15 PM. So it is always a good idea to try and tie in your educational tour with the traditional dancing after this you can drive to Mantenga falls, which is quite a pretty spot to look at as well.

After your guided explanation of a Swazi village, there is time to watch more dancing, the singing is also extraordinary, harmoniously blended to provide a wonderful spectacle. And this is a brilliant opportunity for photos too. After this, there is the chance to swim in Mantenga Waterfalls or simply watch others do it! The water is refreshing and it is a wonderful place to take a dip.

As we return there is the chance to spend a bit of time in the Interpretation centre at Mlilwane entrance gate, where you can view sculls and other interesting pieces and read about rhino salvage operations, Swaziland’s heritage, poaching and anti-poaching efforts. There is a great piece about how the reserve was set up and the importance of the Mlilwane in preserving Swaziland's wildlife.

A sundowner drive is a must for the end of the day. A short walk to the top of Execution Rocks gives a stunning view of the surrounding area, giving you a perspective of Mlilwane that not many see. But do be careful, in the olden days, if there had been an unlawful act, the culprits were thrown off the top!

Overnight Mantenga Reserve

Day 3: Lobamba Cultural Tour

After breakfast with a view over the Ezulwini Valley — also known as the Valley of Heaven — we head to the urban village of Lobamba, which is also known as the cultural capital of Swaziland. A local guide will take us on a walk through the community and tell us about life in an urban village in Swaziland. History, local culture, and world influence will be visible on this informative tour.

After the village tour, we take off towards the Lowveld of Swaziland.

The visit to the historical museum and the parliament.

Overnight Mantenga Reserve

Day 4: City Tour and Ngwenya Glass Factory

After a leisurely breakfast overlooking the hippo pool, it is time to pack bags and move on to discover more about Swaziland. Driving through Mlilwane one last time, make sure you say goodbye to the fish eagles, hippos and crocs. Your journey takes you to the highlands of Swaziland, passing by the capital city Mbabane.

On the way to Hawane, there is an opportunity to stop at the famous Ngwenya Glass Making factory. Here you can see glass being blown and shaped into glassware such as wine glasses, sculptured animals like lions and giraffes and extraordinary vases. Ngwenya also has a number of other shops and traditional artefacts which you can buy as gifts or for yourself. Here we can also stop for lunch before moving on to Hawane.

Make sure you go upstairs to the glass factory to have a look at the workers working below. The breathtaking beauty of the area and its spectacular views transport visitors into a multi-dimensional experience that offers as much adventure, solitude, adrenaline or tranquillity as desired. And if the stunning views aren't enough to keep you entertained, we have a fully equipped games room and toys for indoor and out that will amuse all ages. There is also a swimming pool too. Spend the afternoon exploring the local area, maybe a walk or cycle ride to see some of the local homesteads.

In the evening there is a treat in store for you. Our renowned restaurant, The Taste of Africa, is run by the well-known Ugandan chef, Richard Wangoolo is not only a culinary delight, but it is also part of the Hawane experience. Thatch, intertwined wood and our huge central fireplace provide the warmth while our step-down glass porch with seating brings in the light. African-fusion cuisine from across the continent graces the menu with a wide selection of vegetarian and spiced dishes to suit all palettes.

Overnight Hawane Chalets:

The beautiful thatched chalets are an inspired mix of materials providing sophisticated comfort with a traditional African flair. They are en-suite with a blend of traditional Swazi materials and glass panelled front walls creating a beautiful combination of warmth and light. The feather pillows, down duvets, sheets, and linen mixed with hessian and printed cloth complete the cultural/contemporary synthesis unique to our style.

Day 5: Malolotja Reserve

Today is an opportunity to explore Malolotja. Malolotja Nature Reserve is one of the most impressive mountain parks in Southern Africa and is the largest proclaimed protected area in the Kingdom also famous for specialising in the Canopy Tour. The spectacular scenery and the variety of fauna and flora make it a prime highveld conservation area. It is the last unspoilt mountain wilderness left in Swaziland.

This is where you can do the canopy tour if you choose to do so or just hiking. The restaurant and information centre is located near to where all the log cabins are, very obvious to find. Again on your left-hand side the range in altitude from the top of Ngwenya Mountain, Swaziland's second-highest mountain (1829 m), to the deep Nkomati River Valley (640 m) accounts both for the mild temperate climate and a great variety of habitats; from short grassland to thick riverine scrub, bushveld and moist Afro-montane forest.

The extensive grassy hillsides and rocky ridges lend themselves to some excellent game viewing with backdrops unrivalled in southern Africa.

The views in Malolotja are stunning, something similar to Tolkien’s book 'Lord of the Rings. And if a dragon rose up from behind the mountain range, you probably wouldn't be too surprised! Here there is an opportunity to do a morning hike in the hills keeping an eye out for the unique flora and fauna in the area.

Game to be seen includes Eland, Blesbok, Black Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Common Reedbuck, Grey Rhebok, Red Hartebeest, Oribi, Klipspringer and Zebra. The rare Aardwolf and the elusive Antbear also occur in the reserve. Predators include Leopard, Serval, Caracal and Black-backed Jackal.

Overnight Hawane Chalets

Day 6: Bushmans Paintings

This is a full-day excursion guided hiking to see Bushman Paintings Called Nsangwini Rock Painting. The Komati Valley has also sustained human life for many centuries and its many caves and rock overhangs bear testimony to this in the San Rock Art that adorns them. The Nsangwini Rock Paintings are the only rock paintings that are open for visitors to see, the remaining British paintings in the country are nationally preserved and fully protected.

The amazing paintings that the San have left are all that remains of their history in Swaziland and depict lifestyles that remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. They are painted on flat rock walls of exposed grey to light yellow sandstone and the rock art found in Swaziland has not been dated but is thought to be more than 4000 years old! Return to Hawane after yet another wonderfully inspiring day.

Overnight Hawane Chalets

Day 7: Shewula Community

This is probably your longest day for driving, about 2-3 hours travelling through the northern part of Swaziland. Here you will see lots of communities living in a sustainable way and truly experiencing life in Swaziland. There will always be people to greet you as you travel along the dusty roads.

This becomes dirt, but do not worry about it. The road carries on winding through small communities and make sure that you feel at home. Shewula Mountain Camp is the first community eco-tourism project in Swaziland and one of the most successful in the whole of southern Africa. The camp is fully owned and run by the community, meaning that all profits are shared by the community in an effort to continually develop and improve this traditionally impoverished area.

The camp is a vital source of income and employment for the community and is a proud achievement for all. Shewula Mountain Camp straddles the 500 metres high Lubombo Mountains with a 100-km panoramic view of Swaziland encompassing nearby Mbuluzi and Mlawula, and Hlane game parks. Maputo can be seen on a clear day at 100km away view. Arriving in the afternoon, there is a chance to meet the camp staff and settle into accommodation.

There will be a chance to sit down and drink tea with the local Swazis, and really get to learn about the local way of life. There may even be a chance to learn a bit of the local language. Enjoy a mouth-watering BBQ or a meal of your choice cooked in a traditional style. Here you can truly appreciate the wonders of the night sky, stargazing is a must here.

Overnight Shewula Mountain Camp

Set on the magnificent Lebombos Plateau, Shewula Mountain Camp provides you with an opportunity to experience the traditional Swazi lifestyle in a beautiful natural setting. Comfortably nestled in a rustic yet modern rondavel. Each rondavel has a number of beds in it, some of which are en suite.

Day 8: Shewula Community

This is a cultural day. Allow the local camp staff to take you to their own homes, and walk you through the community learning about a traditional way of life. You may see people cooking, learn about the fruit and vegetables that are grown on the land, and there may be a chance to sit in a class at the nearby school and visits the local environmental education Centre. This is led by one of the locals there, and you get to see a true traditional working community. Make sure you take your hat and sunglasses off when if you go into somebody's homestead.

The Shewula community is a friendly agricultural people, with traditional thatch and stone houses dotted neatly among fields of maize cotton and vegetables. They encourage visitors to their area to enjoy the incredible view, gain an insight into traditional Swazi lifestyles and appreciate the natural splendour of the Lubombo Conservancy.

In the community, there still survives the "Ubuntu" tradition, based on solidarity and that all the people are equal. In the "Ubuntu" tradition, you are a person only with and through other people. In the community, all the families have access to the land and to other natural resources and this free access is still a good weapon against poverty.

The most photographed experience in the camp, the Sibhaca dance, performed by a group of young people from the community, will leave you with a smile on your face and a shake in your step. The dancers, proudly dressed in traditional regalia, will show you the importance of this dance and offer you the chance to learn it for yourself if you are up for it.

In the afternoon there is a chance to meet the Sangoma, a very powerful person in the Swazi culture. They are thought to have healing powers and are able to predict the future. Shewula has carefully organized this visit in a manner that is both respectful to the traditional Swazi way of life as well as informative to the visitors. This experience will certainly open your eyes and possibly leave you wondering... When you arrive at the Sangoma's place, you will have to drive there and take one of the guides to act as a translator, there may well be a bit of sitting around waiting for the traditional healer to get ready.

Before you enter the house put a small coin just outside the door, take off your shoes, clap your hands and then walk into the heart with your head held quite low. You will then be asked to put your 'feet' under a mat. The traditional healer will throw the bones for you and after that, you can then ask as many questions as you want.

Feel free to do so and try not to be too intimidated by it all! It is well worth a visit and I would highly recommend it. The majority of the food on offer is grown in the community, providing for traditional organic Swazi menus. Shewula is famous for its mouth-watering traditional menus that will replenish you after your day's activities. Let the local ladies cook you a traditional meal.

Overnight Shewula Mountain Camp

Day 9: Airport Transfer

After breakfast, we depart for Manzini Airport.




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