Ezulwini Valley
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 25 28.133 E 030 58.448 | pop. 230,000 | elevation 684 m/2,244 ft

Ezulwini Valley (Place of Heaven) is the heart of Swaziland and the country’s top tourist destination. The valley spans from the administrative capital Mbabane to the legislative capital of Lobamba, where the royal family lives. But it is also host to great natural wonders including a hot springs, waterfall and the one of the country’s most popular parks, the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Travelers who come to enjoy the valley’s great sights will have their choice of wonderful restaurant and accommodation options during their stay.

Cuddle Puddle at the Swaziland Spa Health & Beauty Studio

Cuddle Puddle at the Swaziland Spa Health & Beauty Studio is a hot springfed pool (E10) for both men and women (bathing suits required). The studio offers a variety of services including a Swedish Message (E200/30mins), facials (E250) and manicures (E180).


Natural Hot Springs

Natural Hot Springs are undeveloped hot spring-fed pools surrounded by a bamboo fence. This is where local men come to relax in the hot springs, just next door to the commercialized Cuddle Puddle.


Mantenga Cultural Village

Mantenga Cultural Village can take you on a cultural village guided tour (E130) to get a glimpse of the traditional Swaziland way of life and hike to Mantenga Falls. You can enter the Mantenga Nature Reserve without the cultural village tour if you want to hike to the waterfall on your own.


The Swaziland National Museum

The Swaziland National Museum has displays on the prehistory of the area and the culture and national history of Swaziland. There is also an exhibit of King Mswati III's car collection.


Swazi Trails

Swazi Trails is the leading tour and adventure activity company in Swaziland. It offers cultural tours, wildlife sightseeing and adventure activities including whitewater rafting down the Usuthu River, caving, quad biking, canoeing and mountain biking.


All Out Africa

All Out Africa does everything from wildlife conservation and community projects to all-inclusive wildlife tours and expeditions. They offer numerous social, humanitarian or conservation volunteer opportunities that can be on a short or long-term basis both locally and in South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.


Gables Shopping Center

Gables Shopping Center is a more recently built collection of restaurants, shops and a large Pick' n Pay.


Mantenga Craft Center

Mantenga Craft Center is a collection of shops selling jewelry, hand-woven tapestries and woodcrafts with a tea garden and coffee shop.


Ezulwini Craft Market

Ezulwini Craft Market recently moved into their new concrete digs from the old wood stalls across the street. There are rows and rows of craft stalls selling almost any African craft you can imagine.


Guava Café and Gallery

Guava Café and Gallery is a café and gallery that sells paintings, crafts, clothing and a large selection of jewelry.


Budget

Lidwala Backpacker Lodge

Lidwala Backpacker Lodge is nestled away from the road behind large boulders and trees. It's a chill backpackers without a bar, so if you want a sundowner, you'll have to bring your own. There are a few dorms in the cozy quarters of the main house and the rest are four-person dorms set up in permanent safari tents nearby. Hang out on the deck in front of the lodge or swing in the hammocks; there is also a fire pit and braai area.


Legends Backpackers

Legends Backpackers is a clean place to stay and is in a good location for those on foot, given its proximity to nearby venues, activities and the MR103 from where you can catch a minibus. But the backpackers is in need of a little TLC. Its once popular "shebeen bar" that attracted some of the party crowd is no longer operating due to equipment breakdown.


Mid-range

Mantenga Lodge

Mantenga Lodge has standard and executive rooms with TV, AC and great views of the mountains and valley. The lodge has a bar and restaurant (6:30am-9:30pm, mains E50-100) with a large deck and view of Nyonyane Mountain or "Execution Rock." The lodge borders a wildlife reserve and monkeys frequently roam the grounds.


Timbali Lodge

Timbali Lodge has a main thatched roof lodge that houses a bar and The Boma Restaurant (12pm-10pm, mains E40-100), which is worth coming to even if you are not staying at Timbali. Outside of the lodge is a spanking clean swimming pool and 30 chalets spread throughout the premises.


Top End

Lugogo Sun Hotel

Lugogo Sun Hotel is a 200-room 3-star South African chain hotel with a large swimming pool and nearby outdoor bar. This is a place that caters to the budget businessperson and families with kids. The rooms are pleasant and large.


Royal Swazi Spa Hotel & Country Club

Royal Swazi Spa Hotel & Country Club is one of the best hotels in the country, rated 5-stars and run by South African Sun International. The hotel sparkles with fine detail and sports an array of sumptuous amenities, including two restaurants, a sports bar, business center, swimming pool, casino and a beautiful 18-hole golf course.


Royal Villas

Royal Villas resembles a wealthy suburban gated community with 15 luxurious four-bedroom, five-bathroom, two-car garage villas situated in the valley, with views of mountain ranges in both directions. It is government-owned but has a very adept and attentive staff. There is a fine dining restaurant (12:30pm-3pm & 6:30pm-10:30pm) and a poolside bar.


Calabash Restaurant

Calabash Restaurant is one of the top restaurants in the country, with a focus on Austrian, German and Swiss cuisine. The restaurant has been around since 1976 and the attention given to the interior design is complemented by the staff's impeccable service and quality food. Try the Kassler-Rippchen or grilled Eisbein.


Quarterman's Restaurant & Pub

Quarterman's Restaurant & Pub is a large dark wood pub with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has a large sushi selection in addition to standard fare. Say what you want about sushi in Swaziland but the pub draws a loyal following of expats and tourists in the evenings. Wifi is available (R25/hr).


Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands Restaurant is cozy, with a burning fireplace in the evenings. Woodlands participates in the slow food movement - the meat and vegetables are sourced locally in Ezulwini Valley and the meals are delicious. There is also a good selection of desserts.


Guava Café and Gallery

Guava Café and Gallery is a café and gallery that sells paintings, crafts, clothing and a large selection of jewelry. The café has a great mountainside view and serves up ice cream, drinks, snacks and full meals.


The Great Taipei Chinese Restaurant

The Great Taipei Chinese Restaurant is a popular place run by a Chinese family and serves up large dishes at reasonable prices. They even make a great Peking Duck if given 24-hour advanced notice.


Ka-Lohheya Pub

Ka-Lohheya Pub is more of a local scene, located just across the street from Quartermans in the Gables Shopping Center. It has a pool table, an open-air area in the back and is always packed on the weekends.


Why Not / If Not

Why Not / If Not is a bar and strip club located across the street from the Gables Shopping Center entrance. It was closed for a large-scale renovation during our research but is a popular place for drinks and entertainment in the valley.