From the moment you enter the Eswatini Kingdom (formerly Swaziland), the landscape changes around you and there is no mistaking as to why the Eswatini King fought so hard to gain independence of his pristine mountains, rainforest and valleys in this landlocked country. Originally inhabited by the hunter gatherer khoisan people, Eswatini became popular to the Bantu tribes of East Africa and the powerful Nguni (Xhosa, Zulu and Eswatini ) tribe occupied this area during the Bantu expansion (migration of tribes due to increased use of iron, agricultural development and the more prevalent use of ceramics).
Interestingly, in September 1968, Eswatini proclaimed it’s independence after being ruled by the United Kingdom as a British High Commission Territory for almost seventy years which meant that it was one of the last colonies to be ruled by Britain on the African mainland.
When travelling with Nomad Adventure Tours, the majority of our time is spent in the magnificent Big Five Game Parks, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary (South African Explorer) and Hlane Royal National Park (Discover Mozambique).
Mlilwane is situated in the North West of the country in the Ezulwini Valley (otherwise known as the Valley of Heaven). It is Eswatini’s most popular reserve as it was a pioneer conservation area and due to this, ensured the survival of many endemic species to the area. We spend our time in the Southern end of the park where you will see Nyonyane Mountain, an exposed granite peak, known as “execution rock”. Pay close attention to your guide when he tells you about this area – the tales of witchcraft make for excellent bedtime stories… if you’re not afraid of the dark.
Hlane also has an interesting story of it’s own. Before it was opened to the public, it was a hunting ground for royalty. It is now Eswatini’s biggest and most diverse and abundant National Park and if you want to see a rhino – this is where you’ll have one of the best chances to do so!
One of Eswatini’s most popular and spectacular annual ceremonies is the Reed Dance, held in August or September each year. Thousands of young woman congregate at the Queen Mother’s village to provide tribute labour for the Queen Mother and to preserve their virginity. They arrive with bundles of reeds for the Queen and some of them bring their bush knives as a symbol of their virginity. The woman dress in traditional clothing and perform dances for the royal family and other onlookers.