Welcome to Eswatini
Our company provides tours and transfers from OR Tambo Airport to Eswatini. Popular places are the capital Manzini, Mbabane and Esulwini valley with its many hotels like Royal Swazi Spa, Ezulwini Sun, The Royal Villas and the annual MTN Bushfire festival. We will meet you at OR Tambo airport or pick you up from your hotel or office and transfer you to Eswatini. Driving time from OR Tambo Airport is around 4.30 hrs. Should you decide to visit Kruger park – our company will be able to assist you with a transfer from Eswatini to Kruger park. Our shuttle service is especially recommended for business people who value time because we are flexible in terms of departure times from both countries.
Transfers available – From OR Tambo Airport to Mbabane, Manzini, Esulwini Valley, Royal Swazi Spa. From Eswatini to OR Tambo airport, Kruger park, Johannesburg, Pretoria
Eswatini – previously known as Swaziland, is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, however, it boasts stunning landscapes, unique traditions, an array of lodges and hotels, and a prolific bird-life. Nature reserves are the top attraction in Eswatini and though only a few host the Big Five animals (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino), they all offer an unforgettable game-viewing experience, beautiful mountain scenery and a rich diversity of species. The country proudly preserves its fascinating culture, customs and festivals. Visitors to the country are welcome to watch the festivities of Incwala – an impressive three-week kingship ritual in December and January and Umhlanga – the Reed Dance ceremony. The ceremony takes place during the last week of August or first week of September. Below are some of the places and events we at Evo’s African Shuttle can take you to on a tour.
Top Ten Things to See and Do in Eswatini
Second only to Uluru in Australia’s Northern Territory, Sibebe Rock is the largest exposed granite dome in the world. It sits about 10 kilometers outside the capital city of Mbabane, and unlike its Australian cousin, Sibebe doesn’t suffer from tourist overcrowding. The rock’s sheer magnitude can be felt from the base, but many daring visitors choose to make the 4-hour round-trip hike to the top with a local guide. Sibebe Rock is number ten on our list because it’s over 3 billion years old!
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Sitting among the foothills of the Lubombo Mountains, a one-hour drive from Manzini, the Mbuluzi Game Reserve is a Privately-owned conservancy of 3,000 lush acres in northeastern Eswatini. The reserve offers visitors a peaceful retreat on the banks of the croc-filled Mlawula River as well as a self-guided wildlife safari to see animals such as zebra, kudu, jackal, giraffe, impala, wildebeest and nyala during the day and genets, servals, hyena and honey badgers during the night. Bird lovers will be happy to learn that the Reserve offers a chance to see more than 300 species, including the beautiful Narina trogon. Visitors have a choice of hiking the clearly marked walking paths of nature trails, self-driving trails, check out the lookout points and bird hides, enjoy a mountain bike along jeep tracks or just cast a line for fish in the two rivers. Accommodation is varied. Options range from rustic riverfront campsites and safari tents to several private luxury lodges complete with electricity, fully equipped kitchens and plenty of room for the whole family. Although the reserve lacks any of the Big Five – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – guests have a free entry to neighboring Mlawula Game Reserve and Hlane Royal National Park where they can see white rhino and elephant. Official site: http://www.mbuluzi.com
Shewula Mountain Camp
The Shewula Mountain Camp was Eswatini’s first community-owned eco-tourism attraction. Set in the beautiful Shewula Nature Reserve, with views overlooking the Mbuluzi and Mlawula Reserves, Shewula Mountain Camp offers a different kind of tourism. Visitors can partake in village walks to get to know the local community and its members, witness traditional song and dance performances, visit with a traditional healer, or enjoy the tranquil natural surroundings. For those who want to stay a night or two in a rustic setting, Shewula has single and family-sized huts, as well as hot showers and delicious homemade meals prepared with organic, local produce.
Eswatini is known for its original arts and crafts. The Swazi Candles Craft Market is a unique shopping center showcasing work by local artisans. Among the boutiques and gift shops of this outdoor complex is Swazi Candles – a colorful collection of paraffin wax candles, scented beauty products, and other gifts. The candles are molded by hand into several standard and animal shapes. Their lively patterns and beautiful designs make perfect souvenirs. When you’re done, stroll the rest of the craft complex, then head to the courtyard to watch the wood carvers at work. Specialty items available at the shops in the craft center include woven baskets, batik prints, jewelry, and carved masks.
White Water Rafting
There is no shortage of thrilling activities in Eswatini, and for adventure lovers, there’s no greater rush than an exhilarating white water rafting trip down the Great Usutu River. This excursion is the only one of its kind in the country and is available only through one tour operator, Swazi Trails. Half and full-day packages are available. Trained river guides accompany you the entire time. No prior experience is needed.
Hlane Royal National Park
The Hlane ( which means “Wilderness” in the SiSwati language ) Game Sanctuary with its tranquil atmosphere is the largest of Eswatini’s game parks and it is a home not only to the four of the Big Five – rhino, elephant, lion and leopard but also to the largest herds of game in the country such as giraffe, hippo, crocodile, zebra, buffaloes and many birds. Bird lovers will also be happy at this 22,000-hectare reserve with a diverse collection of species, including the highest density of breeding white-backed vultures on the continent. In order to see the lions – which reside in a separate enclosure – the visitors will have to take a guided game drive but self-guided drives are permitted in other areas of the park.
Other activities include guided mountain biking, cultural visits to a nearby traditional Swazi village, birding walks and overnight fully-catered bush treks. Guests can choose between evocative electricity-free experience in a campsite or traditional lantern-lit hut or a self-catering stone cottage with modern conveniences. About a 45-minute drive south of the park is Mkhaya Nature Reserve which was established to protect endangered species such as white and black rhino as well as other animals. Day visitors may book guided game drives with advance notice, while overnight visitors are accommodated in lantern-lit open-sided stone cottages.
For the best experience, book your stay at one of the cottages in the Ndlovu Camp, which overlooks a watering hole frequented by white rhinos and elephants. The camp provides meals and game drives while you are relaxing on your private veranda. A trip to Eswatini isn’t complete without a visit to Hlane Royal National Park!
Official link http://www.biggameparks.org/hlane/
Ngwenya Glass is regarded as Africa’s most prestigious glass factory. Their products can be found in art galleries and airport shops around the world, and while in Eswatini you could score some of their signature works at wholesale prices. The factory uses age-old glass blowing techniques that have been passed onto local Swazi craftsmen since the opening in August 1987. Pieces range from decorative animals bowls, to everyday items such as wine glasses and wine stoppers, to unique chess sets and corporate gifts. Visitors can also watch the glass blowing process safely from a viewing platform above the workshop. International shipping is available. WATCH VIDEO
Mantenga Cultural Village
It would be a shame to visit Eswatini and not see the country’s top traditional song and dance show. The Mantenga Cultural Village, located in a lush setting in the Mantenga Falls Nature Reserve, gives visitors the incredible opportunity to enjoy traditional harmonies and energetic dances. When the show is over, you’ll get to tour a reconstruction of a Swazi hut village from the 1850s. Local guides are available to take you through each of the huts and offer information on traditional diet, customs, and family structure. The Mantenga Waterfall is about a ten-minute walk from the village. The reserve has a great restaurant/pub on site serving local and international food, and a lodge if you want to stay the night. 90 South African Rand (ZAR) buys you entrance to the performance and a guided tour of the hut village and to the waterfall.
“The objective of the cultural village is to enable visitors from all over the world as well as Swazis from all corners of the country to visit it and to maintain a positive interest in the Swazi cultural heritage, including language, customs and practices, rituals, dance, music, folklore, arts and crafts.” – Eswatini National Trust Commission
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Mkhaya joins Hlane and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary among Eswatini’s big game parks. Located in the southeastern part of the country, Mkhaya is a fantastic safari destination for day tours and overnight stays. Resident wildlife includes black and white rhino, giraffe, sable antelope, and buffalo. Accommodations at Mhkaya are at the Stone Camp. For couples, we recommend the double cottage. This open-air suite (no windows or doors) is beautifully decorated and offers privacy, comfort, and wildlife viewing opportunities directly from your bed!
If you are lucky enough to be in Eswatini during the Umhlanga Reed Dance you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it for yourself. The event, which is held annually around the end of August when the reeds are matured and ready for harvest, lasts approximately eight days. The event gives the country’s maidens (childless, unwed girls) the opportunity to pay homage to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi).
Before the start of the event, the girls come from all over the country. They are looked after and mentored by captains appointed by the Royal Family. As part of the tradition, the girls cut reeds and carry them back to the Royal Residence where the reeds are used as windbreakers for the perimeter. Aims of this particular ceremony include promoting solidarity between the girls. The seventh day of the Umhlanga Reed Dance is a national holiday and is when the King participates. On this special day the arena is filled with thousands of spectators who come to see the girls dancing and saluting the Queen Mother.
His Majesty then makes his rounds to salute thousands of girls as they cheer him on. The Umhlanga Reed Dance is truly one of Africa’s most fascinating cultural events!
Special thanks to the Eswatini Tourism Board. Source: http://davidsbeenhere.com/2014/07/14/top-10-things-see-swaziland/
MTN Bushfire is more than a festival, it’s a living, breathing ecosystem deeply rooted in African soil, yet inclusive and welcoming to guests from all over the world. This uniquely African, and yet globally infused festival experience welcomes thousands in an atmosphere of tolerance and passionate commitment to music, the arts and the environment. Every year, over 26,000 attendees hailing from 60 different countries make the journey from near and far to the peaceful Malkerns Valley of eSwatini for an energizing and uplifting weekend that celebrates the music and arts of Africa and beyond.
Winner of the African Responsible Tourism Awards Best Sustainable Event Award in 2017, MTN Bushfire was also hailed in 2016 by CNN as one of the “7 African music festivals you really have to see” and listed by BBC as a “Top African festival.”
With its #BRINGYOURFIRE clarion call to ignite action for social change, MTN Bushfire has always been committed to working with and uplifting the local Swazi community. Over the past decade, MTN Bushfire has continually brought its fire with a significant percentage of profits supporting local charities including Young Heroes, an initiative that supports over 1,000 AIDS orphans.
MTN Bushfire invites all fans of music, the arts, cultural exploration and environmental sustainability to become part of the thriving community that is MTN Bushfire.
More info – https://www.bush-fire.com/
Evo’s African Shuttle offers tours and transfers from OR Tambo Airport to Eswatini for the Bushfire festival. Driving time from OR Tambo Airport is around 4.30 hrs. Don’t miss the annual Bushfire event, book your transport early and enjoy a peace of mind.