What to Bring
At the start of our Swaziland Day Tour, we will pick you up at 6:00 and head towards Swaziland through
Matola, Boane, and Finally Goba border.
From the Goba border we get into Swaziland and through Siteki we head down
towards Manzini Town.
Swaziland currently known as Eswatini is a small country but very rich in terms of
cultural immersion. We shall go through Siteki as head to Manzini town which i sone of
the cultural towns of Eswatini.
Manzini was formerly known as Bremersdrop until 1960. Manzini it´s the largest commercial town
but the capital is Mbabane, close to South African border, focused on business but not as commercial as Manzini.
Around 10;00 am we expect to arrive to the most famous handicraft market in Eswatini, where you will have time to explore how hands and imagination of these friendly people work.
Then, we will continue our day to Mantenga Cultural Village, where a couple of surprises are waiting for you. One is related to culture and traditions, and the other one related to water. 🙂
You will probably feel starving after the visit, so let’s have a break at Happy Valley, and specifically at House on Fire, a charming place, with good vibes, stunning architecture (it reminds Gaudi from Spain) and, of course, good food. Shall we have lunch here?
We are sure you will ask to stay longer there, lay on the grass, relax the mind, but laziness is not part of the experience, so after exploring well this magic house, we will go for our last stop at Swazi Candles, an icon of this country where workers are amazing creating rhinos, elephants and any shape you demand. It’s easy to fall in love with all their creations.
From there, we will start our trip back to Mozambique enjoying the last views of the country, its inhabitants, its “everywhere-cows”, the sugarcane crops…
On our Swaziland Day Tour, we expect to arrive back to Maputo around 7 p.m. after a long intense day.
We run this tour any day of the week, come and join us whilst we go and learn about the culture of the Swazi people visiting Mantenga Cultural Village located at Mantenga Nature Reserve, which is after Manzini town.
In this tour everything is included, transportation, guide, snacks, non-alcoholic drinks and water, lunch at the famous House on Fire and Mantenga Cultural Village entrance fees.
Bring a camera, warm clothing, comfortable shoes, a valid passport with double or multiple entry visa –if you have a single-entry visa, you can apply for another one at the border on your way back from Kruger; you need to pay $50, bring along your accommodation or hotel proof, your return ticket and an invitation letter.
We depart from your point of collection at 6 a.m. and will drive through the Namaacha Mountains to the Namaacha’s border. It takes us around 1 hour and a halt to get to the border and once there we will proceed with the stamping of our passports on both Mozambican side and Swazi side; when we are done with the stamping we will get in our car and carry on with our adventure.
We will drive down the meandering road around the mountain area, with evergreen forests. Here we drive a bit slowly because of the slope roads and a lot of cows are always seen feeding or roaming close to the roads –cows are by far the most dominant livestock in Eswatini; keeping cows is more than just a business enterprise to the Swati, it is a way of life and is of great cultural importance.
Driving down we will pass a big sugar plantation –sugar is the country’s main export commodity, and Eswatini is the 4th largest sugar producer in Africa and the 25th largest producer in the world; sugar production accounts for over half of Eswatini’s agricultural output.
Soon after the sugar plantation, we will pass through the Hlane National Park of Swaziland, where animals like giraffes, impalas, elephant, nyalas, warthogs…, are sometimes seen crossing the roads in front of the vehicles, so open your eyes, it might be a lucky day and see the animals crossing; if you think you see any animal, tell the guide to stop just to have a quick look.
The drive will take us to pass through a few cities and towns including Manzini, the second most important town in Eswatini.
Eswatini is a developing country, with a small economy. It is classified as a lower-middle-income country and is well known for its craftsmen and is home to several crafts markets and shopping attractions. There are 2 major towns in Eswatini, namely Manzini and Mbabane. Mbabane is the capital of Eswatini, with an estimated population of 94.874, being the current population of the Kingdom of Eswatini 1.158.855 people. Manzini, on the other hand, is a city of Eswatini which is also the largest urban center ahead of Mbabane, with a population of 110.000; it is also known as “The Hub” of Eswatini.
If you would like to stop and look around the town of Manzini, just advice your guide –you mighty stop on your way back if time permits, but on our way to the Mantenga Cultural Village we don’t want to stop because we will be aiming to go and watch the first cultural dance that happened at 11:30 am; if we miss it, that will change the whole itinerary of the day.
Eswatini is a landlocked country as it is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its northwest and south, and is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a total area of 17.364 km2.
On 19 April 2018, the king of Swaziland King Swati III announced that the Kingdom of Swaziland (that was the previous name of the country) had renamed itself as the Kingdom of Eswatini, and this was to reflect the extant Swazi name for the state eSwatini, to mark the country’s 50th Independence. The King of Eswatini currently had 15 wives and 23 children –King Mswati selects his wives on the week-long annual traditional dance (reed dance) where he selects his new wife from thousands of bare-breasted maidens who dance for him. The King’s first 2 wives are chosen for him by the national councilors.
National and official languages of the Swati people is Swazi, a Southern Bantu language, and is spoken by approximately 95 percent of the Swazis; Swazi and English are the country’s two official languages.
After passing Manzini town, we are getting closer to Mantenga Cultural Village. After a few minutes of driving, we shall leave the main road that goes to Mbabane and turn left towards the Village. Upon arrival at the main entrance, we shall stop and the guide will go and pay the entrance fee; here we can get out of the vehicle to stretch our legs, or we can have our snacks.
The Swazi Cultural Village is a living museum of old traditions. Representing a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s, the Mantenga Cultural Village is a mini complex with few huts. The building materials are strictly traditional: poles, grass for thatching, reeds used as windbreaks, leather stripes, earth and dried cow dung used for the floor, and plastering the huts. Kraals and byres for cattle and goats, which were kept for meat or the cows. The cows where only killed for special occasions or on paying Lobola. With the traditional artefacts on display, the village illustrates many facts of the ancient Swazi way of life being it social, economic and religious.
The objective of the cultural village is to enable visitors to get to know root traditions and visit and to maintain a positive interest in the Swazi cultural heritage, including language, customs and practices, rituals, dance, music, arts and crafts.
As soon we arrive at the village, a Swati local guide will take us around the village, giving us brief details of how the Swati people used to live and the meaning of each hut, as the positioning of each hut has its own meaning and purpose, for example, the hut for the girls is built at the main entrance to the village, so that when the enemies come to attack the village, as soon they get to the village what they first see are beautiful girls, they will get attracted, putting their weapons down and they will start proposing the girls, so that the younger girl in the hut will walk out as if she is giving the enemies some privacy with her older sisters, she will find her way to the boys and elder man places and inform them that the enemies are in the village, the soldiers will get ready and go and attack the enemies, whilst the enemies will be busy making love with the girls, they will be attacked by surprise.
The tour will proceed to the kraals and the food storage places. The kraal where they keep the livestock is mainly constructed with the poles in a round shape and the food storage will be on the upper stairs so that the enemies will not come and steal, the younger boys are responsible to take care of the livestock every day, taking them out and back in the kraal. To encourage the young boys to take care of the livestock with love, whenever they kill a cow, they will give some parts of the cow’s meat to the boys, and these parts the women or girls are not allowed to eat.
The local guide will also take you to the other huts: the village traditional healer place, the first wife huts, the main kitchen of the village and the mother of the family -in this case, the mother of the father; the mother is the adviser of all the family.
Always when entering the Swazi hut, man enter first to make sure there are no enemies or any danger, and this shows us that this is the main responsibility of the Swazi men in the village, to take care and protect the village, fighting any intruders. Among other responsibilities for men is to build the village, find some meat to feed the family (hunting) with bows and arrows, where-as the women will cook for the family, going to the fields to do some agriculture, look for the thatching grass –every hut is sub-divided with reeds either as wind breaks or for privacy; the thatching grass they us provide coolness inside when it’s hot.
The Swazi girls get married when they turn 18, the girl will re-locate to the boy’s village, and a big traditional party will take place: dancing and drinking, they will slaughter a cow, the boy’s family will pay the Lobola on this day in form of cows and goats –normally it is paying using the livestock.
After the village tour, that will take around 30 to 40 minutes, we will get ready and join other people to watch the Swazi dance show, which is performed by young men and women, the dance show is a high energy performance full of life and lots of singing. They will dance in turns when the ladies sing the men will dance and vice-versa. At the end of the dance, visitors will have the opportunity for dancing and singing, so get ready to get on the stage, hahaha. The dance show normally takes up to an hour of time.
When the dance is finished, we will visit the waterfalls, just few minutes walking from the village. Because of time we might drive closer to the waterfall and walk for 5 minutes or so, depends with the time we arrive at the cultural village. If we arrive early we might go and visit the waterfalls before the dance, so the plans are always flexible depending of what happening at the particular moment. The waterfall is the Swaziland largest waterfall by volume, so we don’t want you to miss it; the river tumbles over a rock shelf before cascading via a series of pools along the reserve.
We are quite sure after the village tour, the dance show and the waterfall you have some appetite for lunch, so we will drive straight to House on Fire, where we will stop for lunch. Lunch here will be a-la-carte, so you will choose from a menu your lunch and 1 soft drink (included on the tour), so go on and choose what you feel like you want to eat.
House on fire is located at Malkerns area as is known as one of the famous places in Swaziland. It is one of the most well- known entertainment venues, it has vast different architectural and artistic styles connecting in harmony, reinforcing the underlying theme of cultural meeting points. This place will make you think about Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect. People visit this place for the cultural site and living gallery, experimental performance space, part of the Malandela’s complex. The well-known venue hosts everything from African theatre, music and films to rave and other forms of entertainment, since then it has hosted the annual MTN Bushfire Festival. Here you can take a tour around the gallery, curio shops, or simply enjoy the scenery and views, enjoying a cool refreshment.
After lunch we will proceed to the Swazi Candle Factory driving through few pineapple fields. Eswatini also has a big production of pineapple. They first grew commercially in 1954 –approximately 50% of the total volume grown is exported and used to be nicknamed as “Swazican”. This is Swaziland’s only canning operation which is being operated by the Rhodes Food Group, a South African Canning group.
We will soon arrive at the Swazi Candle Factory. This place has come one of the big tourist attraction in the country. After visiting the factory you will have time to walk around and look at the curio shops and artisans selling around. There are also shops, coffee shops (with great brownies), bar and restaurants, and fresh local made piri-piri.
The beautiful designs of Swazi Candles use the ancient technique known as Millefiore or thousand flowers first surfaced in Alexandria (Egypt), and later perfected in the glass making cities of Murano and Venice, in Italy. On the African coast, these Venetian trade beads were used as a form of currency to barter trade for gold and ivory.
The art of millefiore continues in Swazi Candles, but, instead of glass, the gifted Swazi candle makers use a special hard wax to create their colourful designs, the hard wax forms the outer shell of the candle, which hardly melts when the candle is heated, hence the rich glow of the illuminated exterior as the candle burns deeper into the container lighting up the casing. Because of their small size, mini candles do not burn in this manner, and both the inner and outer wax melts with the flame, yet they still of a value to the works of the Swazi craft and still possess the glowing qualities for them. Swazi Candles was started in an old cowshed of a former dairy in 1982 by two South African art graduates. They two discovered that the Kingdom of Swaziland was a beautiful countryside and the Swazi people were warm and friendly and this has proven to them to be ideal people to be partners in the industry. They opened a little workshop and soon after it gained reputation for producing unique candles and started attracting visitors. The vibrancy of the workshop, uniqueness of the product and the skills of the artisans resulted in Swazi Candles becoming one of Swaziland’s premier tourist attractions. Till now they export the candles all over the world.
You can witness the process of the artisans making the candle crafts. They design animals, the big 5, a car, or anything that you may think of, you can even ask them to do something that you may want to take home for your loved ones.
So soon after the candle factory, we will give you few minutes to explore the surroundings, and maybe use the bathrooms before we jump back into our vehicle to start driving back to Maputo.
From the candle factory, the drive takes through the pineapples fields, and here we use different route back to Manzini, so as we say earlier that, you wish to stop at Manzini town please advise the guide, or we will just back to Maputo.
Again, we drive through small towns, enjoying the views, mountains, and cows everywhere as we drive by.
We expect to arrive back to Maputo around 7 p.m. After a long and interesting day. At the end of Mussiro’s Swaziland Day Tour we will drop you at any point of your choice.
Belmiro is a Mozambican guide, artist and DJ. He started off as a guide in Swaziland then moved to South Africa for the last 10yrs. Having traveled to every single corner of Swaziland.
He then decided to move back and guide from home. Belmiro is your go-to guy for anything off the beaten tracks.
We booked for a customized 2-day trip to Eswatini with Mussiro tours in February 2020. Jose was a thoughtful and insightful guide all along. He planned everything from transport, to park fees, to custom entry (you still have to obtain our own visa before of course – if you need one). He adapted to our needs and was very flexible, even when we requested to slide in an extra Jeep tour to see lions (and we did!). He also had planned for food (picnic) and coffee (which made up nicely for the early wake up !). We visited 2 of the main parks in Eswatini (Hlane and Mlilwane) which are very different from each other. We went to a waterfall, a cultural village, a candle factory. We overnight in a very nice cozy lodge with excellent traditional food.
Aside from the smoothly organized travel, the real plus of Mussiro was our guide, Jose, who managed to be present every time we needed to be. He was considerate of our wishes and last minute changes. He communicated any changes or adaptation of the time ahead of time. He was accompanying without being directive. he was knowledgeable about the country, without being “know-it-all”. he was super friendly but also left us some couple-time at the lodge… It is hard to strike the right balance on all of those, but Jose did it ! We would gladly go back with him to any of the Mussiro destinations, really !
We warmly recommend Mussiro tour and their friendly staff…
Michael and Antine – From Haiti and France (based in Maputo)