Mantenga Reserve Falls & Village Eswatini
Once upon a time, the beautiful areas around the village of Mantenga were known simply for their waterfalls, which – to be fair – are amongst some of the most awesome in the country.
However, in more recent years, the spotlight has shifted to include the cultural experiences offered by the Mantenga Village too.
It’s the place to go if you want to encounter the Swazi people and learn all about their rich heritage; if you want to see the famous reed dances in action, or want to witness the age-old style of hamlet construction used by the tribal folk here.
And of course, the waterfalls are still close by for that end of the day activity!
Mantenga is an Eswatini National Trust Commission property and one of Eswatini’s (Swaziland’s) top tourist attractions. It centres upon the picturesque Mantenga Falls and incorporates a cultural village, where Swazi history, culture and tradition are brought alive for visitors.
Set against the scenic backdrop of Nyonyane mountain, this replica mid-19th Century Swazi village, constructed using authentic materials and techniques, is one of the country’s most popular attractions. For a modest fee, visitors may wander the village at leisure. A guided tour will reveal much more, from how the huts are built and what each is used for, to the role played by the sangoma, or traditional healer. Among the huts, you will meet the villagers, including women preparing food, plaiting grass and making traditional beadwork, all for sale. At a small showground behind the village, a dance troop performs traditional Sibhaca routines twice daily. It’s a lively show, comprising vigorous high-kicking, pulsating drumming and some rousing singing. After a couple of hours wandering around the village and watching the dancing, the drinks and refreshments at the Swazi River Café are very welcome.
This small reserve protects a tract of unspoilt woodland along the Lushushwane river. As well as the Cultural Village at its entrance, the reserve’s prime attraction is Mantenga Falls, Swaziland’s largest waterfall by volume. The river tumbles over a rock shelf before cascading via a series of pools along the reserve’s southern boundary with Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors can explore a series of short trails that lead to a picnic spot at the falls. Wildlife in the area includes baboon, duiker, rock hyrax, porcupine, bushpig, nyala and klipspringer, although you are most likely to see the vervet monkeys that hang around the lodge, hoping for handouts. Look out too for rare southern bald ibis, which often roosts on the cliffs above the falls. The reserve – together with its cultural village and restaurant – makes for a perfect half-day trip. A cosy lodge within the reserve also caters to over-nighters.
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