Mbabane, capital city of Swaziland. [featurephoto/skyscrapercity.com]

48 Hours in Swaziland

Established in the mid 18th Century under the leadership of Ngwane III, the Kingdom of Swaziland stands as one of the smallest country in Africa, not more than 200 kilometres north to south and 130 kilometres east to west.

Swaziland is known for its rich cultural practices including the Reed Dance ceremony, an annual eight-day event that brings together unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women from various chiefdoms to Ludzidzini.

King Mswati III. [teleghraph.co.uk]

King Mswati III. [telegraph.co.uk]

Other than its culture, Swaziland also boosts well preserved wildlife and game parks, great weather and beautiful geographical formulation making it just one of those places in Africa you must visit.

The country, whose capital city is Mbabane, also stands as the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa and is ruled by King Mswati III with majority of its population being the ethnic Swazis whose language is siSwati.

 

Arrival

Your trip to Swaziland begins with arrival at King Mswati-III International Airport (or King Mswati the Third International Airport), originally known as Sikhuphe International Airport. The newly opened airport is part of King Mswati III’s $1billion investment project aimed at making Swaziland a favourable tourist destination.

King Mswati the Third International Airport is located 70km from Mbabane, the capital city of Swaziland and incorporates a 7,000 square metre passenger terminal designed to handle 300 passengers per hour. The terminal has a domestic and international passenger facilities, VIP lounge and air navigation services.

King Mswati-III International Airport. [photo/itravelnews.co.za]

King Mswati-III International Airport. [photo/itravelnews.co.za]

The Matsapha Airport located near Mazini, a city in Manzini District of Swaziland used to be the country’s main airport but is reported to have been closed for renovation.

You can also connect to Swaziland from South Africa with Airlink and Swaziland Airlink being among the flights serving this route. You could also drive from South Africa to Swaziland giving you ample time to enjoy the scenic beauty and meet the hospitable natives.

 

Accommodation

Accommodation should not be an issue when visiting Swaziland, especially with the entry of accommodation marketplace SleepOut.com into its hospitality industry. SleepOut.com has several accommodations which you can book when visiting Swaziland.

You can book your stay at The Crisovik Guest House, located at No 521, Mbhilibhi Street, a 10-minute walk from the town’s mall and the bus rank. The Crisovik Guest House consists of three houses each with 3 bedrooms for guests on self catering or full board.

 

Where to visit

Swazi village

Swazi Village comprises of 16 beehive-shaped grass and reed huts all built with traditional materials. On arrival here, you will be welcome by a Swazi guide dressed in traditional costumes who will lead you through the villages where you’ll get a glimpse of the day to day life of the native Swazis.

You can learn ancient skills of weaving a traditional beehive hut and the culture and language of the Swazi.

 

Reed Dance

Young Swazis participate in the Reed Dance. [photo/mobile.saharareporters.com]

Young Swazis participate in the Reed Dance. [photo/mobile.saharareporters.com]

This is one cultural dance that anyone from anywhere in the world should make a point to witness. The annual eight-day event brings together unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women from various chiefdoms who converge at Queen Mothers’ royal village which currently is Ludzidzini Royal Village.

The ceremony aims to preserve the women’s chastity and provide tribute labour for the Queen Mother as it also creates solidarity among the women through working together. The King’s many daughters and royal princesses also take part in the reed dance ceremony and are distinguished by the crown of red feathers in their hair.

As part of the ceremony, the girls dance bare-breasted with reeds in front of the King, the crowd, tourists and foreign dignitaries.

 

Hlane Royal National Park

Located 67 kilometres northeast of Manzini along the MR3 road, Hlane Royal National Park is one place you must visit during your trip to Swaziland. The park, whole native name means wilderness was named by King Siobhuza and is currently held in trust for the Nation by King Mswati III and managed by a privately-owned body, Big Game Parks.

Hlane royal National Park, Swaziland. [photo/sagr.co.za]

Hlane royal National Park, Swaziland. [photo/sagr.co.za]

Hlane Royal National Park remains Swaziland’s largest protected area and the largest park in the county covering 30,000 hectares of Swazi bush. The park is home to lions, elephants and white rhinos with the wildebeests, zebras and impalas being spotted during dry winter months of June to September.

 

The Mantenga cultural village

Known by the SiSwati name of Ligugu Lemswati to mean the pride of the Swazi people the Mantenga Cultural village is one of the places you should visit if you wish to learn more about the Swazi culture.

The event is aimed at keeping the Swazis in touch with their cultural heritage and language and provide a forum to display Swazi customs, rituals, food, dance, music, art and craft.

 

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mlilwane wildlife sanctuary is Swaziland’s oldest protected area owned and managed by a non-profit trust. The sanctuary, which covers 4,560 hectares in the Ezulwini valley also called the “valley of heaven” serves as a headquarter for the Big Game Parks who manage Mlilwane’s sister reserves, Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve.

Camping huts at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. [photo/modernoverland.com]

Beehive huts at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. [photo/modernoverland.com]

The sanctuary has abundant wildlife and stretches of open grassland plains that extend to Nyonyane Mountain, covered in vegetation.

 

Where to shop

Before you leave make sure to carry some souvenirs with you. You can do your shopping at Swazi Candles Craft Centre located 7km south of the MR103 in Malkerns Valley or Baobab Batik for beautiful wall hangings.

Alternatively, you can visit Likhweti Kraft for some handicrafts, sisal baskets, jewellery and many other Swazi crafts or check out African Fantasy for a selection of locally made t-shirts and cards.

 

 

About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.

Yoga session

Banana House, Lamu Island to host Health & Happiness course in November

Banana House & Wellness Centre, Lamu Island will host the Health & Happiness course from 13th to 16th November 2014.

Lamu Yoga Festival 2014 [photo/lamuyoga.org]

Lamu Yoga Festival 2014 [photo/lamuyoga.org]

The four-day workshop will involve learning breathing techniques to fight stress and tension, teaching participants on skills for improving relationships at home and work, meditation and low impact yoga. Other activities will involve long walk on deserted beach, learning how to handle your mind and negative emotions and an opportunity to experience stress-free and hassle-free wellbeing on Lamu Island.

Participants will be required to pay $389 to cater for 3-night full board accommodation at Banana House, course fee and airport transfers.

Banana House & Wellness Centre

Banana House & Wellness Centre

Banana House & Wellness Centre is a chic boutique hotel neatly tucked in the picturesque Shela village on Lamu Island with a unique coastal charm. The 16-room house is divided over three houses build in a tropical garden with great views of the sea, the dunes and the gardens.

Banana House and its Wellness Centre offers yoga session, massages and retreats that’ll teach you how to be energetic and reduce stress. The house is also known for being the veneu for the annual Lamu Yoga Festival with the next one set for March 2015 with the legendary Kelly Alomba who is supermodel Naomi Campbell yoga trainer.

 

Book your stay at Banana House & Wellness Centre on SleepOut.com.

Shocking pictures of passengers behaving badly on the plane

Travel can be interesting and fun, except for a few characters who wouldn’t mind throwing away the rule book and show their discourtesy. The YouTube clip above shows a few of those travellers who would freely show their worst behaviour while on the plane. See if you can recognise any of them.

[photo/dailymail.co.uk]

[photo/dailymail.co.uk]

 

About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.

Kelly12

Meet Lamu Island’s Kelly Alomba, Naomi Campbell’s yoga trainer

Born in 1983 in Western Kenya, Kelly Alomba has made quite the name for himself as a talented yoga instructor and trainer to international supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Local Lamu Yogini Kelly Alomba with supermodel Naomi Campbell (left)

Local Lamu Yogini Kelly Alomba (right) with supermodel Naomi Campbell

Kelly interacted with people of different age, race, and ethnicity at his former profession as a teacher – a job that took him to Shela village in Lamu County where he met Monika Fauth, the owner of Banana House & Wellness Centre.

“I knew Monika from back then when I was a private school teacher for her son Karim who is living with a disability,” Kelly recalls.

It is during this time that Monika introduced Kelly to yoga with weekly classes while his afternoons had previously been spent doing body building exercises.

Monika (right) in a yoga session

Monika (right) in a yoga session at Banana House, Lamu

Kelly was however rendered jobless when Monika’s son left for further treatment abroad leading him to start practicing yoga regularly while assisting Monika with teaching Yoga at Muslim Girls’ Secondary School in Shela.

He later enrolled for a yoga teachers’ training course and landed a scholarship from Africa Yoga Project where he became a qualified yoga trainer. With the newly acquired experience, Kelly was able to offer daily yoga classes every morning and evening at Banana House and gained much ground in the field.

Marianana village yoga session

Kelly (first row, extreme right) during the Mararani village yoga session

She also had yoga classes at Shela Bright Girls, Anidan Children’s Home and villages around Lamu including Mararani Village, the latter being part of a “jiggers” campaign project.

In his practice as a yoga instructor, Kelly has been able to meet, interact and socialize with people from all walks of life including the opportunity to provide private yoga training to supermodel Naomi Campbell during her visits to Kenya.

Kelly is currently the vice chairperson of the Lamu Yoga Festival, a 3-day event held in Lamu every year, bringing together yoga enthusiasts from all over the world.

Lamu Yoga Festival 2014 [photo/lamuyoga.org]

Lamu Yoga Festival 2014 [photo/lamuyoga.org]

Enjoy a visit in Shela as you take part in yoga sessions at Banana House or Fatuma’s Tower where yoga is practiced daily in the morning and afternoon (respectively).

Learn more about the Lamu Yoga Festival being held again in March 2015.

Visit SleepOut.com book your accommodation in Lamu.

Sports, Events and Tourism Exchange 2014 to be held in Durban, South Africa

The 4th edition of the annual Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) will be held on October 28 to 30th at the International Convention Centre Durban in South Africa.

Sports and Events Tourism Exchange

Sports and Events Tourism Exchange

The event is set to create a business to business platform aimed at positioning South Africa as a sports and events tourism destination and encourage collaboration between the sports, events and tourism industry.

Different exhibitors in the sports, events and tourism sector are set to showcase their products to both local and international buyers thus boost South Africa’s tourism industry. There will also be a two-day conference with networking sessions. The event is set to attract both domestic and international participants including decision markers in sports, events and tourism industry.

Organised by Thebe Reed Exhibitions, SETE is backed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the region’s marketing body Tourism KwaZulu-Natal along with CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sports Sector Education and Training Authority).

The sports and events tourism is a growing global industry with significant economic implications for both the event and the impact of travel and tourism-related benefits on host destinations.

Visit SleepOut.com to book your accommodation in Durban, South Africa.

Mother sells house to travel the world

Ruth Johnston, an Australian mother, decided to sell her house to fund her travels even though she had no idea where she and her 9-year-old son will live on their return.

[photo/telegraph.co.uk]

[photo/telegraph.co.uk]

Ruth and her son have been on the road ever since and are now in their third year of travelling currently in Greece and have managed to explore 40 countries so far.

Ms Johnson claims that she doesn’t regret the decision and says she has no idea yet when their adventure will end.

“It was the best decision of my life. I was working two jobs to pay off a house and spending no time with my son. It was all work and so the house needed to go,” she says.

The two now live on a budget of between $60 and $100 a day and spend a lot of time house sitting as a way to earn money and get to know locals.

Ms Johnson adds that her son is “world-schooled” and also spends a lot of time reading whether it is a chapter of a novel in the car or at night.

“I get to teach him and show his the world. I want to encourage single parents that it is more affordable to travel than to pay for a home and all its associated expenses. To live life simply and with less possession means less to worry about,” she says.

Ms Johnson notes that the sacrifice has been worth it since they now focus on random acts of kindness as they travel and get to give to others along the way adding that “the more we give, the more we want to give”.

Travel the world and sleep wherever you want. Find favourable accommodations on SleepOut.com.

koryo-crew

Photos from inside the world’s “worst” airline

Singapore-based photographer Aram Pan has captured images from inside North Korea’s Koryo Air described as the world’s worst airline.

With its Soviet-era planes, rudimentary safety belts and reputation for questionable safety standards, Air Koryo is unlikely to appeal to nervous fliers though it is heaven for aviation enthusiasts. Last month, dozens of travellers including Aram were given access to the airlines ageing fleet in what seemed to be an adventerous session.

The state-owned North Korean airline was temporarily banned from flying to or from the EU in 2006 and is the only one in the world to receive a rating of just one star from the website Skytrax.

See below some of Aram Pan’s photos from inside North Korea’s Koryo Air – from the cockpit, cabins, weighing scale and meals.

 

The cockpit has no digital screen

 

The fans are pretty old school

koryo-fan

 

There isn’t much to say about the seat belts

koryo-belt

 

The seats fold forward – so magical

koryo-cabin

 

Luggage is weighed on some worn scales

koryo-luggage

 

At least the food is not that bad, right?

koryo-food

 

About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.

10 of Africa’s best safari guides

Safari guides have a part to play when it comes to how fun or boring your tour of the game park or reserve wild will be. Knowing beforehand who can make your safari an amazing experience is one of the hardest tasks since in most cases Park officials will just assign any available guide to take you round the park.

Safari guides. [photo/blog.luxetravel.com]

Safari guides. [photo/blog.luxetravel.com]

After spending decades visiting various game reserves and park in different countries in Africa, Graham Boynton, British-born Zimbabwean journalist, consultant, travel writer and editor came up with a list of some of the most outstanding safari guides in Africa. SleepOut.com highlights some of those safari guides below.

 

Keraetswe Bosigo (Madala K) – Little Vumbura Camp, Botswana

Bosigo’s nickname is Madala or Old K. Bosigo arrived in Okavango Delta when he was only 15 years old with his grandfather as a tracker at a hunting company before turning to guide photography safari.

Currently in his 50’s, Bosigo is equipped with knowledge and wisdom that will leave you wowed as he takes you around the wild in Botswana.

 

Paul Kiprono Kirui – Masai Mara, Kenya

Paul Kiprono Kirui is chairman of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and one of fewer than ten accredited Gold Standard guides in Kenya.

Kirui is a skilled and knowledgeable guide in the Masai Mara with an outstanding personality and deep understanding of the African wild. Having grown up in the Mara as a Maasai herder, Kirui knows the eco system flora and fauna intimately and has even established a guiding school called Mwewe Guiding School in the Serengeti, the first of its kind in Kenya.

 

Christiaan Bakkes – Palmwag Conservancy, Namibia

Christian Bakkes is a writer, novelist and an amazing guide at the Kruger National Park in Namibia.

In the year 1994, Bakkes lost his left arm after he was attacked by two crocodiles inside the park but this has not deterred his efforts in the industry making his one of Africa’s best guides.

Bakkes has a keen understanding of flora and fauna and a poet’s eye of the wild. He is also known for his recitals of epic poems around the camp fire. He is passionate about wilderness and even though he is a warden of Palmwag conservancy and not a daily guide, he still finds an excuse to take visitors into the wilderness.

 

Gregg Hughes – Safari Footprints, Botswana

Gregg Hughes is not only a great tour guide but also a science graduate a quality that helps him unlock and explain the nature in precise style. Before becoming a tour guide in Botswana, Gregg visited Europe, South America, Middle Asia and Far East out of his love for adventure.

Gregg enjoys his job and takes pleasure in guiding tourists in and out of luxury camps in Jao and Mombo and recently he completed a 3 months motorbike safari through southern Africa.

 

Saigilu “Jackson” Ole Looseyia – Rekero Naboisho Camp, Kenya

Ole Looseyia is one of the most popular guides in Kenya due to his show The Big Cat Diary. His charm and incredible knowledge of Rekero Naboisho camp makes him just the person to take you through the camp.

As a young boy, Saigilu hunted with his father and in the 1980’s he started working for his mentor Ron Beaton, a conservationist and safari operator.

 

Pokkie Benadie – Samara Game Reserve, South Africa

Pokkie is the leading master tracker at Samara Game Reserve and there are only two more master trackers hence making him one of the most outstanding there is.

Pokkie was born in Beaufort West District currently known as the Karoo National Park. At a very young age he and his father would set traps for jackals and caracal for food, a practice that made a master not only in tracking but also in the ecosystem. He may not be a guide but Pokkie believes that he is living his dream as a teacher of all that is entails in game reserves, a half a day programmes that is aimed at helping tourists know their way around the wild.

 

Bill Winter – Bill Winter Safaris, Kenya

Bill winter grew up in Kenya but went to school in England before joining university in South Africa.

He specialises in mobile tented safaris in Ol Pejeta and has precise way of describing the flora and fauna that makes you understand how the eco system works.

 

Richard Knocker – Nomad Safaris, Tanzania

Richard was born and raised in Kenya. He is the founding member of Nomad safaris and is also the chief guide often found at Lamai Serengeti. He is an interesting story teller with a sense of humour and has an overwhelming love for the bush and wild.

 

Robin Pope – Liuwa Plain and Luangwa, Zambia

Robin Pope was born and bred in Copperbelt and grew up racing in the wild bushes with his pellet gun and fishing rod.

The accountant has undying love for nature that has made him a great safari companion with unrivalled knowledge of Zambia’s wildlife. He currently serves from Nsefu, Tena Tena, Nkwali, and Luangwa River Camp.

 

Andrew “Stretch” Ferreira – Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Andrew is famously known as the elephant whisperer. He is seen in many YouTube clips standing calmly and courageously in front of charging elephants.

The former hunter no longer kills animals but instead learns more about animals in order to appreciate their behaviour and adaptation to nature. Currently Andrew owns his own safari operation called Goliath Safaris located along Zambezi River an area he is familiar with.

Book your stay in Africa on SleepOut.com.

 

About NOMAD from SleepOut.com

Travel just like life should be inspiring, amusing, down-to-earth and diverse. NOMAD brings together original travel pieces by SleepOut.com guests and writers from around the globe written expressly for the NOMAD in you.

flydubai launches flights to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro

flydubai has launched flights to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as it seeks to extend its reach in  Africa’s bustling aviation market.

flydubai

The flights which begin operation in October will expand the airline’s network in Africa to 12 destinations having already launched operations to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Alexandria (Egypt), Khartoum and Port Sudan in Sudan, Djibout’s capital Djibouti and Juba in South Sudan. Other destinations include Bujumbura (Burundi), Entebbe (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda) which began operating at the end of September.

“With the addition of these three new destinations in Tanzanian we’ve doubled out network in North and East Africa this year, strengthening our commitment to serving previously underserved markets,’ said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive of flydubai.

Tanzania’s tourist has been on an upsurge with the East African country welcoming over 1 million tourists in 2013 figures that are set to double by 2017.

Dar es Salaam is known to be Tanzania’s economic hub offering picturesque seaport and a wealth of cultural and historical attractions. Zanzibar is know for its white sandy beaches and rich cultural heritage while Kilimanjaro offers the exceptional hiking experience on Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro.

Visit SleepOut.com and book your stay in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro.

New Eden Bleu Hotel, Seychelles officially open

Eden Bleu Hotel is now open for bookings with the first guests expected to check in on November 1st 2014.

Eden Bleu Hotel, Seychelles

Eden Bleu Hotel, Seychelles

The 87-room hotel is situated between Mahé International Airport and Seychelles’ capital Victoria and offers unending luxury in a picturesque location.

“The Eden Bleu Hotel is probably best described as edgy. It’s distinctly different and slightly provocative hotel for The Seychelles. We’re equally able to host a conference for 340 delegates or a family about to embark in sailing holiday around the island,” said Peter Smith, marketing director at Eden Island Development Company.

The hotel is built on Eden Island, a residential and commercial marina development, 100 metres off the coast of Mahé. It’s proximity to the airport and Victoria ensures easy access to Eden Island’s international marina making it an ideal point of departure for yacht charters or to other islands.

Eden Bleu Hotel is also adjacent to Eden Plaza, Seychelles’ only purpose-built retail centre with shops, boutiques, diving spots, and boat charter operators as well as banking and medical facilities making it a convenient place to stay.

The hotel’s airy public areas lead to a sun deck and rim flow pool with great views of the marina and Mahé’s granitic mountains. Guest floors are accessed by lift or an exquisite, handcrafted wooden staircase zigzagging up from the lobby. Eden Bleu Hotel has three room types including 74 deluxe rooms, 12 luxury suites and a presidential suite.

Book your stay in Seychelles on SleepOut.com.

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