Sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, the tiny mountainous Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a beautiful hidden gem, where African culture and traditions flourish alongside modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves.
Eswatini has a big heart despite its depressed economy. The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Among the country's main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; the casino resort of Piggs Peak; and the annual ceremony of the Reed Dances at the Royal Kraal in Lebombo on the country's eastern border.
Eswatini's absolute monarchy is the last one remaining in Africa. The country is ruled by King Mswati III and his family, who preside over traditional ceremonies such as the Reed Dance and First Fruits Ceremony. Swazi life is focused on tradition and centres on the homestead, many of which are polygamous and continue to observe traditional rites and customs.
The country is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially its western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,829m), and are riven with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.
Safe, welcoming and providing unrivalled insight into the continent's tribal societies, Eswatini is a must for all travellers who are passionate about Africa.
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