Excerpts from "A Traveller's Guide to Swaziland" by Bob Forrester.
There are five visitor oriented rural community projects with seven destinations where you can stay in the kingdom. These offer an opportunity to step outside of the pre-packaged mainstream tourism routes and see what life is actually like for people in rural areas - and have a good time. The projects are all in rural areas and are important because they are often the only cash employers in the most economically depressed parts of the country – these of course, are what visitors like to call “unspoiled”.
These projects were set up by donors in one form or another, however they are now run by and for the communities. All of them are in areas of natural beauty, in gorges, or on mountain tops and all have spectacular views. Five of the seven offer accommodation and hiking trails.
Community projects offer people the chance to see rural daily life if they wish – but not if they do not. Visitors can ask a family to show them how they live, what they do, how they operate, some people are quite happy to have you stay in their houses for a fee, the experience can be quite transformational for people from the First World. You should make whatever arrangements you wish for payment in advance and be specific about what you will pay for your accommodation and food. Then sit back and experience what rural life is like for almost half of the worlds population - a daily sequence of fetching water, looking after livestock, talking to the neighbours, weeding crops, preparing food, collecting firewood and sitting under a tree and watching the world pass slowly by.
You can make a difference by choosing to stay in one of the places listed here. By visiting such projects visitors help empower local people. This is one of the best ways for visitors to improve the lives of poor rural people. Visitors contribute to a new sustainable source of income – in much the same way as the sahee Foundation supports rural projects in Swaziland. The sahee Foundation supports this guidebook because of this section which bridges visitors and rural communities.
ACCOMMODATION - COMMUNITY PROJECTS
From hotels to backpackers - is listed by area, starting with the most expensive and ending with the cheapest. Hotels in Swaziland range from small country inns with low prices and a limited range of services to large luxury resorts. Prices reflect the standard of service and amenities you can expect. Generally, you can be guided by the price as to the standard of service and level of accommodation, hotels are grouped into three categories.
Low rates: Basic hotel with simple food, most rooms without bath en suite. The hotel may or may not be clean. In towns, direct dial phones in the rooms.
Medium rates: This is the range with the widest variation, but you will almost certainly get a room with adjoining bathroom, telephone, radio and possibly TV. Air-conditioning may appear in rooms within this price range. These hotels will have a much wider range of activities on offer, swimming pools and a more varied menu than low rate hotels.
High rates: These hotels have pretensions to luxury, several restaurants, park-like grounds and attentive staff. You will get a luxurious bedroom and bathroom with a lot of buttons to push, direct dial phones, air-conditioning, heating, satellite TV and dial-a-waiter room service. The hotel will be in resort surroundings which offer amenities and activities like golf, horseriding, gyms, squash courts, tennis courts, bowling, swimming and suntanning.
Guesthouses tend to be very clean, with personal service. They do not have the bland interiors of hotels. You can always put lace doyleys in a drawer and turn their favourite aunt's watercolours to the wall. However they offer good rates compared with hotels and for longer stays you can often bargain.
There is really no clear cut line between guesthouses, lodges, backpackers and bed and breakfasts, simply read the entry to see what they have to offer. Prices change fairly regularly, and there are sometimes seasonal rates or special offers, simply phone ahead or look at their websites.
EZULWINI VALLEY | MBABANE | MHLAMBANYATSI | HAWANE | MATSAPHA | MANZINI
LOWVELD | NHLANGANO | PIGGS PEAK/MAGUGA | SITEKI | BULEMBU | MALKERNS