It is Swaziland’s variety of attractions in its small area that is its greatest asset. It is the mixture of beautiful landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and rich culture that combine to make this small country such a wonderful place to visit.
A tiny country with a big heart and warm, friendly people aptly describes Swaziland – a country that is one of the few remaining Executive Monarchies in Africa and embraces and upholds its own unique and ancient traditions. Both the monarchy and the people of Swaziland actively maintain and preserve a remarkable cultural heritage that is probably unmatched anywhere in Africa. Visitors can get a better idea of traditional African culture here than pretty much anywhere else in the region, and what is seen, including spectacular festivals and energetic dances, has not simply been resuscitated for the tourist dollar but is the real deal. The famous Umhlanga (Reed Dance) and Incwala are traditional ceremonies that involve tens of thousand of Swazis, and attract visitors from all over the world. But traditional attire, ceremonies and dancing are to be found throughout the country at all times of the year.
Swaziland's rich variety of landscapes and habitats gives it a profusion of fauna and flora, with the sheer number of species being mind-boggling by most European standards. The country is not large enough to offer lots of big game experiences, but it has some 17 protected areas which are home to a very wide range of species, including the sought after ‘Big 5’. As well as being one of the best places on the continent for rhino safaris (on foot as well as by 4x4 and to see both black and white rhinos), Swaziland is also the perfect place to get to grips with many smaller creatures often overlooked on safari elsewhere, and it is a bird-watcher’s paradise.
With the exception of desert and sea, every geographical feature of Africa’s terrain is found within Swaziland: magnificent mountain scenery with rivers, waterfalls and gorges; unique rock formations which are among the world’s most ancient; lush and fertile valleys, plus typical African bush. From west to east, Swaziland moves from mountainous Highveld, though Middleveld to Lowveld, and then rises again to the Lubombo mountains. Altitudes vary from 21 to 1800 m (70 to 6000 ft) – yet the country’s east and west borders are less than 200 km (125 miles) apart.
Swaziland has a remarkably impressive range of traditional arts and crafts with many of its products now found in trendy ethnic boutiques around world. Throughout the country men and women are at work creating the finest handicrafts that are so popular with visitors. Creative basket ware in vibrant clours, wood and stone carvings, glassware, exquisite candles, batik items, jewellery – all uniquely Swazi. In many places that they are on sale, there is also chance to see the craftspeople at work and marvel at their intricate skills. Many are socially responsible outlets which provide both income and empowerment for their craftspeople from poor rural communities.