The Best Day Trips From Mbanane, eSwatini

Nsangwini rock art
Nsangwini rock art | © Jonathan Ramael / eSwatini Tourism Authority

If you’re based in eSwatini’s capital city of Mbabane, there are many leisurely day trips available. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the best.

The great thing about eSwatini’s diminutive size is that it’s so easy to get between the country’s different attractions from its capital city of Mbabane. Whether you’re interested in stunning scenery, wildlife, local culture or adventure, there’s something available for everyone.

1. Visit a traditional homestead at Mantenga Cultural Village

Museum

Find out about eSwatini’s fascinating cultural heritage and the details of the locals’ daily lives at Mantenga’s Swazi Cultural Village, which is located inside the Mantenga nature reserve. Here, a guide will show you around the “living museum” which displays a reconstruction of a traditional 1850s Swati home and explain what each of the 16 huts are used for – they’re happy to answer questions about Swati heritage so it’s a great place to learn about the intricacies of Swati culture, including how their polygamous households function. The cultural village also puts on spectacular traditional dance performances at 11.15am and 3.15pm daily, which last around 45 minutes.

2. See this tiny country’s Big Five

Natural Feature

Safari sights in Hlane National Park
© eSwatini Tourism Authority

eSwatini is proud of its beautiful national parks (there are 17 protected areas in the country) and plethora of diverse wildlife, including the “Big Five”. Hlane Royal National Park, eSwatini’s largest protected area, is also where you might have the chance to see lions (the symbol of eSwatini) as well as elephants, white rhinos, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hippos, antelopes and spotted hyenas. Guided game drives and guided birding walks are available but the park, with its many game-viewing roads, is also great for self-drive safaris.

4. Admire eSwatini’s Ancient Rock Art

Archaeological site

Nsangwini rock art
© Jonathan Ramael / eSwatini Tourism Authority

Those interested in history and archaeology shouldn’t miss the Nsangwini Rock Art Centre, where ancient rock paintings have been preserved. The community-run project is home to the country’s best preserved rock art, which is approximately 4,000 years old. These paintings are believed to have been created by eSwatini’s first inhabitants, the San people. The paintings can be found on rock faces alongside a steep trail (be careful of loose rocks!) and depict people, animals, hunts and dances. They are unique to eSwatini in their depiction of blue Wildebeest which aren’t found in any other primitive rock paintings.

Strap on your hiking boots

Its beautiful scenery and fascinating flora, fauna and birdlife make eSwatini a great place to explore on foot. The country’s many nature reserves have several hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty levels for visitors to follow at their own pace. Bring a picnic for a leisurely lunch and a pair of binoculars to observe the local wildlife or do some bird watching while you’re exploring.

5. Go All Out with the Lobamba walking tour

Museum

Lobamba
© Ryan Tyler / Courtesy of eSwatini Tourism Authority

Join responsible tourism company All Out Africa on a half-day walking tour of Lobamba; one of eSwatini’s most renowned villages and the cultural and political heart of the country. After learning more about the country’s history at the National Museum (Umsamo Wesive), you’ll visit the King’s royal residence with an experienced local guide to answer any questions you might have. From there, your guide will take you to some Swati homes, small businesses and even a local art gallery. You’ll end the trip by enjoying a traditional braai (BBQ) before heading home.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

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