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Swaziland

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Swaziland

There is a huge variety of things to do within the small Kingdom of Swaziland. You will have great fun exploring the beauty and rich heritage of Swaziland and its warm people. Relax and enjoy the spectacular Reed Dance which takes place in late August or early September and is a ceremony that attracts young maidens from all over the Kingdom, providing the opportunity to honor the Queen Mother. Most participants are in their teenage years, although some of the girls are younger.

During the first week, they gather reeds; the day of the Umhlanga begins with bathing and grooming before appearing before the King and Queen Mother. The girls wear short beaded skirts with anklets, bracelets and jewellery and colorful sashes. The royal princesses wear red feathers in their hair and lead the maidens to perform before the King and Queen. The King often chooses a new wife from among the participating maidens; watch teams of men and boys perform the energetic Sibhaca Dance which is quite a spectacle and watch the King of Swaziland as he takes part in the Incwala Ceremony. The lncwala, or first fruits ceremony, in which the King plays a dominant role, is the most sacred of Swazi rituals. It is held in December or January on a date chosen by astrologers in conjunction with the phases of the moon. The ritual begins with a journey by the "Bemanti" (people of the water) to the Indian Ocean to collect water and on their return to the royal kraal, the little Ncwala begins, preceding the full moon. Youths then travel to collect the sacred branches of the "lusekwane"shrub, a species of acacia. On the third day a bull is ritually slaughtered, instilling solidarity and a spirit of valor among the young men. The fourth day is the finale of the Ncwala when the King, in full ceremonial dress, joins his warriors in the traditional dance. He then enters a special hut and after further rituals, eats the first fruits of the season. On the appearance of the King to his people, they may also eat these fruits with the blessing of the ancestors. The burning of the King's bedding and household items follows, thus cleansing everything in readiness for the New Year.

There are a lot of Nature Reserves throughout Swaziland , which protect a variety of animals, birds and flora throughout the kingdom. The "big five" can all be viewed at reserves within this vibrant country, Swaziland is home to almost all the wild species of Africa. Like South Africa our flora and fauna is in rich supply and is sure to delight the bird watchers and plant fanatics.

There are many tours which can be taken in Swaziland which can be carried out on anything from 4x4 to horseback. Although there is no coastline in Swaziland there are many of Africa 's varied terrains found here. From majestic mountain passes with rivers, waterfalls and gorges; historic rock formations which are among some of the oldest on the planet; fertile farmed valleys and the more typical African bush.

Handcraft items are made by the locals who make a living selling to the tourist's. Select from creative basket ware in lovely colors, wood and stone carvings, glassware, exquisite candles, batik items, jewellery and much more. There are many types of accommodation available in Swaziland from bush camps, camping grounds, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, backpackers as well as up market hotels, for those who ant a bit of luxury.

In 1968 Swaziland was granted independence and was separated into the four regions of Hhohho, Manzini, Lubombo and Shiseiweni. These regions are distinct from the four geographical zones based on altitude and vegetation, which run from north to south and vary in altitude from 400 to 1800 meters above sea level. These are the mountainous Highveld to the west with a temperate climate; the subtropical Middleveld at a lower level and the Lowveld to the east, which is also subtropical. The furthest eastern zone runs along the Lubombo Mountains , which form a border with Mozambique . Hohhho and Shiselweni are named after old royal homesteads in these areas, Manzini is the name of Swaziland 's largest town, while Lubombo is named after the flat-topped range of mountains that run from north to south on the kingdom's eastern border.

The boundaries were calculated so that each region would have at least one sizeable town to serve as an administrative centre of the specific area, thus Hhohho, Manzini, Lubombo and Shiselweni are respectively served by their administrative capitals of Mbabane, Manzini, Siteki and Hlathikhulu.

 

 

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