Mantenga Nature Reserve and Cultural Village offers travellers to Swaziland the unique twin focus of discovering both Swazi culture and the local natural environment.
Ringing with the sounds of birds, barking baboons, drum beats and singing, this is one of the best value accommodation venues in Swaziland providing easy access to many surrounding attractions in Mbabane, Malkerns, Manzini, and of course the nearby Ezulwini Valley. Immediately within the nature reserve, the Swazi Cultural Village and the Mantenga Waterfallare popular attractions.
Previously known as Mantenga Tented Camp, this venue has been upgradedduring 2010 to offer rooms or cabins, on a bed and breakfast (B&B) basis. Although its spread out design resembles a typical nature reserve camp, we'd by more inclined to call this style of accommodation a "lodge", as it is not self-catering and three meals a day can be sourced via the camp's central restaurant facility.
There is occasional wildlife in the area such as warthog, nyala and vervet monkey which can be spotted whilst walking between the facilities. They are quietly tolerant of human presence.
Although this small 725 hectare area was purchased as early as 1979 by the Swaziland National Trust Commission (a government body) it was only developed from 1994 onwards. Facilities are therefore relatively new and well-presented, with the most recent upgrade, being a substantial investment in terms of both the conversion from tented units to cottages and the very sumptuous furnishing thereof. The management of accommodation facilities and cultural village is typically put out to tender, and is the responsibility of a private sector operator.
The Mantenga area is a favourite launch pad for visitors wishing to undertake Swazi Trails activities, as the reserve is only 1km away from the company's trip departure point for white-water rafting, adventure caving, MTBing and guided tours.
Nature Reserve:The Mantenga Nature Reserve is made of combination of middle and highveld habitat, and one third of the reserve is covered by Eucalyptus (gum) forest. Middleveld habitat dominates the low lying areas along the Little Usutu River which flows approximately 4km along the southern boundary. Highveld habitat is found on the areas of high altitude like the Luchoncho, Sibumbu and Lugogo mountains. The Mantenga Waterfall is one of Swaziland's best-known and most accessible waterfalls, as one can drive within 50m of its main viewing site. The most visible portion of the falls is approximately 30m high. Visitors can explore the reserve predominantly by foot, with two walking trails leading up the mountain towards the summit of Sheba's Breast. Birdlife is good, with the nesting site for the endangered Bald Ibis being a feature at the waterfall. Other wildlife such as baboon, vervet monkey, nyala, duiker and mongoose are regularly seen.
Restaurant - The Village Cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed setting. It is a fully licenced restaurant overlooking the Little Usutu River. Basic wholesale meals are provided with a touch of typical Swazi catering. Large groups are catered for with buffet meals in an open air boma.
The restaurant consists of a spacious open aired wooden deck and an inside area with a bar counter. Functions, working lunches, weddings and conferences can be booked.
Picnic areas - General public picnic areas, with rudimentary braai and table facilities are situated near the falls and along the riverbed near the camp.
Cultural Village - Situated adjacent to the camp the Swazi Cultural Village is a living museum of old traditions and represents a classic Swazi lifestyle during the 1850's. A typical visit includes a 30 minute guided tour and a 45 minute dancing display. It is a great photo opprtunity.
The Mantenga Cultural Village is a large family homestead of sixteen huts, each with its own specific purpose as well as kraals for cattle and goats, reed fences that serve as windbreaks and various other structures. The building material is strictly traditional: poles, grass, reeds, leather stripes, earth and dried cow dung. With the traditional artifacts on display, the village illustrates many facets of the ancient Swazi way of life: social, economic and religious. The objective of the cultural village is to enable visitors from all over the world, as well as urbanised Swazis, to maintain a positive interest in Swazi cultural heritage. This includes language, customs and practices, rituals, dance, music, folklore, arts and crafts. After the its official opening, it was named Ligugu Lemaswati by his Majesty King Mswati III, meaning "The pride of the Swazi People".
On entry, the village people, often wearing traditional clothing, will warmly welcome you. The standard Swazi greeting to the family is "Yebo Nkosi". The village life is very relaxed and your guide will talk you through how the huts and traditional items are made as well as teach you the Siswati words for them. Interaction is encouraged, so try your hand at grinding maize and plaiting mountain grass or join in a Swazi song or dance. A taste of local food is sometimes possible, as well as traditional brew. The Cultural Village is open to day visitors from 08h00 am to 17h00. The traditional dances are held at 11h15 and 15h15 daily.
Swimming pool: The Mantenga Nature Reserve has no constructed swimming pools, but swimming is possible in the large natural pool at the base of the falls. Swimming permitted at own risk.