Swaziland Highlights Tour
This is popular combination of both the Southern and Northern sight-seeing loops is one sure way to see Swaziland in a day.
Operated by Swazi Trails, who boast 22 years of local touring experience, this highlights tour takes in many of Swaziland's art and craft attractions, plenty of local scenery, a smattering of Swazi history, a solid chunk of traditional Swazi culture and dancing, plus plenty time inbetween to ask anything you may want to about how Swaziland ticks.
Your local professional driver-guide will guide you throughout the day and will endeavour to pack as much as possible into the time available. This tour does a big figure-8, taking in the area to the south of the Ezulwini Valley, including Mantenga, Lobamba, Manzini and Malkerns and thereafter the Mbabane, Ngwenya, Maguga and Nkhaba areas. This tour includes lunch. The diversity of this tour and the number of stops its makes contribute to its popularity.
This tour runs on a daily basis. For more info read the full itinerary below. To get an advance glimpse of what to expect, see our photo gallery.
This tour may run to the south first and thereafter to the north or vice versa. This decision is left to the guide on the day, whose decision will be guided by pick-up and drop-off points as well as by prevailing local conditions.
Kicking off from the Ezulwini "Valley of Heaven" this tour heads southwards following the Mdzimba Mountains. Sites such as the Somhlolo National Stadium, the Houses of Parliament, King Sobhuza II Memorial Park and National Museum are passed, with descriptions from the guide. This includes drive-by's past Lozitha Palace (home to His Majesty King Mswati III), the University of Swaziland and Matsapha, the industrial heart of the Kingdom. Arriving in the City of Manzini, the tour takes its first stop and short walk to the vibrant Manzini market. Here visitors can rub shoulders with local Swazi people.
Next is the Malkerns Valley area with its extensive agricultural lands including pineapple and sugarcane. Dotted around in this scenic area are many craft attractions, such as House-on-Fire, Gone Rural, Baobab Batik and many other local handcrafts. Swazi Candles is the highlight of this region and one of the Kingdom's most enduring exports. See talented local craftsmen creating candles of every conceivable design right before your eyes.
Lobamba, the political heart of traditional Swaziland is the next backdrop to a description of the historical roots of the Swazi Nation. Today the Kingdom exits as one of very few remaining ruling monarchies in the world. Ludzidzini, home to the Queen Mother and site of the annual Incwala, Umhlanga and Lutsango ceremonies is another site that can be viewed from a distance.
Mantenga Nature Reserve, in a scenic valley framed by the imposing Rock of Execution to the south and the shapely Sheba's Breasts pinnacles to the north is the next destination. The lively Swazi Cultural Village lies within this secluded valley at the foot of the 30-metre high Mantenga Waterfall. This 19th century re-constructed replica of a typical Swazi homestead is a photographic highlight, both through the guided tour of the village and during the 45 min traditional dancing display. Onwards the tour makes a regular stop at Mantenga Craft & Lifestyle Centre, which has a growing reputation for talented artists, and a focus on recycling, sustainable living and organic food.
Ascending to the capital of Mbabane, a narrative of the city's history provides some understanding of the Kingdom's current administration. To the north, Malolotja Nature Reserve is the venue for a visit to the old Ngwenya Iron Ore Mine. Here there is a small museum to digest and a pleasant 30 minute guided walk to the Lion Cavern. This relatively modest pit is reputed to be the oldest human excavation in the world (circa. 43000BC). Although today it is totally dwarfed by the iron ore excavation, it remains an interesting site from which to ponder the actions of our stone age ancestors.
Then its back to shopping, this time at Swaziland's topinternational artwork attraction - Ngwenya Glass. This showroom and factory combination allows visitors to watch as local craftsman create works of art from molten glass. The fact that all glass used here is recycled just makes the product that much better.
Continuing north along the boundary of Malolotja Nature Reserve, the tour heads towards the scenic Komati River Valley. A route passes the Dragon's Teeth, an easily viewable sample of the original sedimentary crust of the earth. Numerous art and craft stalls dot the road, with the famous ‘leaf-dancing kids' at the Komati River Bridge being an almost compulsory stop.
The 110 metre high Maguga Dam wall, off-the-beaten-track district roads and Sibebe Rock - Swaziland's famous geological feature, are the final highlights in this jam-packed day.
Offering a modest tip to the dancers at the Swazi Cultural Village is encouraged. ZAR 10.00 or ZAR 20.00 is quite acceptable.
These dancers have also joined the modern world and have a CD on sale that was professionally produced and covers their most popular songs.
This tour may be varied on certain days of the week (such as Sunday - when the Manzini market is not functioning) to suit local conditions.
Children under 18 years are afforded a 50% discount on the adult rate, provided that there are at least two full-paying adults on the trip, or one adult with two children.
Book for more than 20 people, contact us directly
This tour departs from the Swazi Trails office in Ezulwini. Free pick-up's are offered from nearby lodges and hotels, when logistically possible. Pick-up's and drop-off's further afield may attract an additional charge. All pick-up's must be specifically pre-arranged in advance by "Special Request".