The small landlocked country between South Africa and Mozambique has been Africa’s last absolute monarchy since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1968.
Geographically, Swaziland is divided into four zones from west to east.
The Highveld (highlands) in the west of the country has an average altitude of 1300 meters and merges with the South African Drakensberg Mountains to the west. The highest elevation in Swaziland is the 1862 meter high Emlembe near the western border. About one sixth of the Highveld is covered by forests.
The capital Mbabane is located in this region.
The main tourist attractions in the northwest of the country are the small but beautiful “Mlilwane Nature Reserve” and the “Malolotja Nature Reserve”. The Mlilwane Conservation Area is located in the beautiful Ezulwini Valley not far from the two towns of Mbabane and Manzini. Its 4560 hectares include a northern and a southern section, of which the southern part is the tourist destination. Open grasslands and the so-called Middleveld vegetation extend up to Mount Nyonyane with its bare granite peak, also called “Rock of Execution”. In the past San lived here and also royal graves of the Swazi can be found here.
Behind the mountain range, the Mantenga Waterfall and the Usushwana Valley define the border to the northern part of the protected area, which can only be entered with a guide.
Mlilwane means “little fires,” a name derived from the numerous lightning strikes on the hills in the area. The 18000 hectare Malolotja Conservation Area is considered one of the most beautiful highland parks in southern Africa and represents the last untouched mountain region in the country.
Only 25 kilometers of the roads within the protected area are passable by a normal passenger car. Nevertheless, this section offers good opportunities for wildlife viewing: eland, blesbok, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, mountain reedbuck, reedbuck, oribi, klipspringer and red forest duiker are quite common. Rare nocturnal species include the small hyena species of aardwolf and aardvark.
If you are traveling from the coast south to Kruger National Park as part of a round trip (or vice versa), you should definitely stop in Swaziland for two or three days.