Ezulwini Valley is eSwatini’s main tourist hotspot and is a paradise for adventure lovers. The valley region is the birthplace of the country’s tourism industry and has mushroomed into a thriving tourist destination abuzz with local attractions. The valley’s claim to fame is its cultural and historical significance, where many ancient Swazi kings rest.
Stretching for 30 kilometres south from the capital city of Mbabane, and bounded in the east by the sacred Mdzimba Hills, the valley is chiefly rolling green hills and emerald grasslands. To the west of the valley, the looming rocky Lugogo mountains characterise the landscape and provide an ideal destination for hiking. With its undulating landscapes and river coursing through the valley, Ezulwini certainly lives up to its namesake, which means “Valley of Heaven”.
There are several wildlife sanctuaries located within the valley, making it possible to spot game while exploring. Popular activities include horse riding trails, caving and hiking excursions, and quad biking adventures.
The main highway intersects the valley, making it one of the most accessible scenic destinations in eSwatini. To explore the valley, visitors can stay at their choice of lodge or hotel and simply fly into the international airport in Mbabane.
Ezulwini Valley houses a few notable wildlife sanctuaries, where visitors can spot a variety of big game. The largest wildlife sanctuary in the valley is the Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary where visitors can see zebra, hippo, antelope, giraffe and crocodile. Visitors might also spot a few other residents, which include porcupine, aardvark, genet and honey badger.
Endless bird species are fluttering about in the valley, the most popular of which is the purple-crested turaco; which is the royal national emblem. While exploring the valley, safari-goers might see the Brown-hooded kingfisher, Verreaux's eagles in the craggy mountains, and forest birds in the hilly regions. There are a recorded 500 species of bird in the Kingdom, most of which can be seen in the valley.
While exploring the valley, visitors might be lucky enough to see zebra, blesbok and other antelope roaming the hills.
During the summer months, it's quite hot and rainy; and this puts a damper on outdoor pursuits. The best time to view the game is from May to September, which is winter. Although eSwatini is a year-round destination, either winter or the in-between seasons are the best time to visit. Times of year to visit are also dependent on what outdoor pursuits and activities of interest to visitors.
Ezulwini Valley provides ample opportunity for visitors to get involved in a range of wildlife, adventure and cultural safaris. The safari experiences take place in the Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, a four-kilometre eco-destination set-up to protect threatened species. Visitors can enjoy mountain biking, game drives and guided walks through the sanctuary and spot wildlife such as honey badger, porcupine and civets. Sightings of crocodiles, hippos and other big game are also common.
The valley is a hub of activities for adventure lovers. There are options to go white-water rafting when the levels are right, horse riding outrides across the valley, challenging hikes across the hills and peaks, and quad biking in abandoned mines. There are also excursions introducing visitors to a network of intricate caves beneath one of the hills. Avid golfers will be pleased to know that there’s a championship golf course in the valley, often frequented by wildlife.
Historical and cultural safaris provide opportunities for visitors to learn about the history of the country. The Mantenga Cultural Village is a popular place for visitors to experience traditional dancing and singing.
The Ezulwini Valley is quite a vast region, which means there is an array of accommodation options available. From high-end hotels to guesthouses, hostels and bed and breakfasts, there’s something for everyone. There are even casino hotels with resort-style activities on offer. However, the most common style of accommodation is chalets and simple thatched accommodations.