Mbabane
Close to the ground.

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

Mbabane (pronounced mm-buh-ban) is the Kingdom’s capital city. Many visitors pass through Mbabane after entering through Swaziland’s nearby main border post at Oshoek-Ngwenya. The city has a nice choice of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls, but if you plan to be in the area for a few days, it is worth your while to continue another 15 minutes to stay in the lovely of Eulwini Valley and Malkers Valley.

Sibebe Rock

Sibebe Rock is the world's largest exposed granite dome and is some three billion years old. It is an impressive sight to see and an even more impressive climb - especially if you go straight up the face. Swazi Trails (416-2180, www.swazitrails.co.sz), the main adventure activity operator in the country, leads steep, vertical hikes up Sibebe Rock for those interested. To get to the rock, head out of town on Gwamile St, which turns into Fonteyn St. Follow the signs to Sibebe Hiking Trails on Pine Valley Rd and you will pass the huge rock on your right.


Sibebe Hiking Trails

Sibebe Hiking Trails is a community-run hiking trail that passes through private rural land about 4 km past the Sibebe Rock. Follow the paths through traditional rural villages, explore caves and waterfalls and cool off in stream-fed swimming holes. There are two entrances to the network of hiking trails. The Mbuluzi entrance near Mbabane is the main entrance, where you can pay the entrance fee, get maps of the trails, and leave your vehicle while you hike. The Nsukumbili entrance, which is reached from Ezulwini, is built but as of early 2010 was not yet functioning with staff.


Swazi Plaza

Swazi Plaza is the largest mall in Mbabane with supermarkets, department stores, restaurants, bars, an Internet café, a Royal Swazi Air office and much more.


The Mall

The Mall is located just across the street from Swazi Plaza and also has supermarkets, department stores, restaurants and coffee shops.


Swazi Market

Swazi Market is a maze of both indoor and outdoor shops selling fruits and veggies, crafts, traditional medicine and second-hand clothes. There is also a kitchen area that prepares local meals on the cheap.


Indingilizi

Indingilizi has an interesting mix of crafts, paintings, art supplies and frames in rooms throughout a converted house with a garden restaurant in the back. Every Wednesday there is a big braai.


Mbabane is a little light on accommodation geared toward tourists. Many better options exist in Ezulwini and Malkerns Valley just 15-20 km away.


Budget

Sunset Backpackers Lodge

Sunset Backpackers Lodge is the closest you'll get to a traditional backpackers in Mbabane with a central lounge area inside and braai pit outside. The dorms are on the top level of a thatched roof building and they've packed 14 bunk beds into one room like sardines. It is located about 1 km from the downtown area.


Thokoza Anglican Center

Thokoza Anglican Center has basic clean bleach-scented rooms and facilities in buildings around the church grounds. There isn't much to do at the Anglican center aside from attending church services. It is within walking distance to the shopping centers and downtown area.


Mid-range

Hwane Resort

Hwane Resort has horseback riding, quad bikes, kayaks, hiking trails, fishing, a swimming pool and a large restaurant. Choose from accommodation in thatched roof chalets with feather pillows and floor-to-ceiling windows or a former horse barn converted into 11 dorm rooms with a self-catering kitchen. To get here from Mbabane, take Sozisa Rd northwest to the MR3, turn right onto the Piggs Peak Rd/MR1. Head north 4.1 km where you will see a signed turnoff onto a dirt road. Continue following signs on the dirt road for 1.4 km to the resort.


City Inn Hotel

City Inn Hotel is centrally located on the main drag and has standard hotel rooms with comfortable beds and large bathrooms. There is also a restaurant (7am-9pm Mon-Sat, 7am-4pm Sun) attached to the hotel.


Finesse Restaurant & Bar

Finesse Restaurant & Bar has a cozy atmosphere with an open wood-burning stove that heats the inside. The large outdoor seating area is popular during the day. Their menu offers a good selection of meat, fish, prawns, curries and vegetarian options. Attached next door is a small but equally cozy bar.


Phoenix Restaurant

Phoenix Restaurant is a reasonably priced restaurant that is packed on weekends. Patrons pile into booths and can watch their food being prepared in an open kitchen. Steak and ribs dominate the menu, but burgers, sandwiches and a number of Mexican dishes are also on offer.


eDladleni

eDladleni is another member of the slow food movement and serves up great traditional Swazi meals made from meat and produce sourced locally within Swaziland. There are a handful of vegetarian options as well as specialties including rabbit, impala, and guinea fowl.


Plaza Tandoori Restaurant & Take Away

Plaza Tandoori Restaurant & Take Away serves up steak, curries, burgers and milkshakes and a good English breakfast. It might take a few minutes to get your food, as it is all prepared to order.


Hwa Li Restaurant

Hwa Li Restaurant serves typical Chinese food; spring rolls, pork fried rice, chicken chow mein and sweet & sour beef.


Café Lingo

Café Lingo is a newly opened restaurant and café by day serving salads, pizza and fresh squeezed juice and a wine and cocktail lounge by night. Café Lingo attracts a smart crowd at night that tends toward conversation over a glass of wine or a few cocktails while a mix of international music plays in the background.


Jazz Friends

Jazz Friends is a happening place in town with an occasional delay for some at the door - tourists generally get waived right in. Inside there are a few tables and some floor space to move with the beat from the DJ spinning on the balcony above.


Moon Light Pub & Restaurant

Moon Light Pub & Restaurant is a gay bar but frequented by just as many merrymakers from the hetero crowd. It is packed on weekends with a DJ and there is an attached sit-down or take away restaurant next door (8am-9:30pm, mains E20-25) that serves up premade dishes, chicken or beef curry and chicken or beef chow mein.