Hear about travel to Eswatini as the Amateur Traveler talks to Sam and Theo about the small African country (formerly known as Swaziland) they both used to call home.
Sam says, “I feel like Eswatini is, I wouldn’t even say, an underrated country, but I feel like when people think about going to the African continent, Eswatini is of considered as like a country you can pass through on your way towards maybe a larger country and the region. I’m hoping for a day whereby people are like, no, I wanna fly across the world just to go to Eswatini and then maybe create the time to go to different cities in South Africa or in Mozambique. I think this country has so much to offer, beautiful people, great food, gorgeous scenery. Any type of excursion you’re looking for, you can find it here. I really think that this country is just all good things in one small place.”
Theo is from Eswatini, and Sam worked with the Peace Corps in Eswatini for 3 years, so they bring knowledge of places to go and things to do in Eswatini all over this diminutive country.
For the best things to do in Eswatini, they start us with two different safari experiences. The Hlane Royal National Park in eastern Eswatini is more of your typical African game drive kind of experience. Go here if you want to see the big 5. But Sam actually prefers Hlane Royal National Park in the western part of the country, which has fewer predators, so you can explore the park on a bike or on foot. There is also a zipline canopy tour experience in Malolotja.
Theo suggests we visit the markets and meet the people in his hometown (and the country’s capital) of Mbabane. Take some time to tour Mbabane, then head south to a few popular tourist attractions.
Sibebe Rock is the largest rock in Africa and the second-largest monolith in the world. You can just look at it or go for a hike in the area. Further south, you come to Sheba’s Breasts and Execution Rock. Sheba’s Breasts is, apparently, named after the Queen of Sheba and the legendary home for King Solomon’s Mine. Execution Rock is, just as the name says, a former place for public executions.
To learn more about the culture, stop at the Mantenga Swazi Cultural Village and Swazi Candles, or take in a festival at House on Fire.
Speaking of festivals, two of the largest festivals are the Umhlanga Reed Dance (where the king might meet yet another new wife) and the Marula Festival, which celebrates the harvest and fermentation of the marula fruit.
Sam takes us on a tour through all 4 regions of Eswatini: Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, and Shiselweni. She describes other natural sites like Mlawula Nature Reserve, Mbuluzi Game Reserve, and Mahamba Gorge. She also recommends the Nsangwini Rock Art with its ancient petroglyphs. Along the way, she tells us about places to stay for any budget, from backpackers to guests of the king. If you have the budget, you can do a golf holiday, a spa, or stay in a botanical garden.
Learn more about Eswatini on this episode and see why Sam and Theo think it should be the focus of your next African adventure.
This episode is sponsored by the About the Journey Podcast. In Season 2, travel journalist Oneika Raymond takes us on a journey around North America to find out. This time around, she’s picked six cities and six entirely unique experiences. From a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, D.C., to the birthplace of the largest queer film festival.
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Sam in Swaziland
Malolotja National Park
Hlane Royal National Park
Malolotja Canopy Tour
Tandoori Restaurant, Mbabane
Mantenga Swazi Cultural Village
Sheba’s Breasts and Execution Rock
House On Fire
Mlawula Nature Reserve
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Nkonyeni Golf Estate
Nsangwini Rock Art
Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge And Nature Reserve
Mogi Boutique Hotel
Royal Swazi Spa
Summerfield Botanical Garden and Resort
Umhlanga Reed Dance
King Mswati III
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