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Introducing Mbabane

Swaziland’s capital and second-largest city, Mbabane (mm-bah-bahn-ee), may sound grand, but it’s not. Nevertheless, it’s a relaxed and functional place in a pretty setting in the Dlangeni Hills, and is a good place to get things done. There’s a handful of OK restaurants, but for the traveller, the nearby Ezulwini and Malkerns Valleys have most of the attractions and on the whole, a better choice of accommodation.

During the colonial era, the British originally had their base in Manzini, but moved it in 1902 to Mbabane to take advantage of the cooler climate in the hills.

About 8km northeast of Mbabane is Sibebe Rock, a massive granite dome hulking over the surrounding countryside; the area is managed by the local community, through Sibebe Trails. Much of the rock is completely sheer, and dangerous if you should fall, but it’s a good adrenalin charge if you’re reasonably fit and relish looking down steep rock-faces. Swazi Trails, in Ezulwini Valley, takes half-day nontechnical climbs up the rock (E580 per person, including transport, entry and refreshments; guide only minimum two people, per person E295).