Whereas Mbabane is the putative and political capital of the country, Lobamba is the traditional, spiritual, and legislative capital of this land, inside the Ezulwini Valley, or Valley of Heaven. It is touristy but still very aesthetic and peaceful.
Lobamba is about equidistant from Manzini or Mbabane, and King Mswati III International airport is about 75 km away. Try Transmagnific if you are in need of bus transportation within Eswatini, including to and from the airport.
- 1 Mantenga Nature Reserve (several entrances, try through the Mantenga Cultural Village). Sharktooth-type peak rising above high grassland ridges, waterfalls, wildlife.
- 2 Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary (From Manzini: MR3 to MR18 to MR103 to D55), ☏ . 6AM-6PM Daily. Big game viewing, hiking in the veld, Swazi cultural dances, overnight stays in beehive villages. There is a lot of wildlife from wildebeest to warthog to zebra, and crocodile. This park has a lot of natural beauty.
- 3 King Sobhuza II Memorial Park (in Lobamba). open 24 hours. A memorial honoring the first king of Swaziland, King Sobhuza II, after his death in 1982. A glass mausoleum is on the spot where the late kings body lay in state, and there is a small museum.
- 4 Swaziland National Museum (Umsamo Wesive) (in Lobamba), ☏ . 8:30AM-4PM M-F, 10AM-4PM Sa-Su. Historical tools and artifacts of Eswatini people. Sits on the capital grounds whereupon also lie Parliament, National Archives, and the National Church.
- 5 Somhlolo National Stadium.
- 1 Mantenga Cultural Village, end of Ligugu St in Malkerns (take MR 18 northwest from Manzini to Ligugu Rd (cultural village turnoff)). 8AM-5PM. Ligugu Lemaswati, a living museum consisting of a 16 hut village with traditional artifacts and livestock to portray Swazi life from the 1850's. Most notably, traditional dances are held at 11:15AM and 3:15PM daily, and there's a chance to interact with the language and customs of the native people. Plus some hiking (to a waterfall, for instance), and food availability.
Besides looking at curios at the Manzenga Cultural Center, you can also shop at the Ezulwini Handicrafts Centre and the Gables Shopping Center.
There are a lot of good choices around Lobamba. The Mantenga Cultural Village has traditional foods available as part of its cultural experience.
- 1 Malandela's Restaurant (on MR27), ☏ . Well-known restaurant with lawn and terrace overlooking mountains. Serves African and Western dishes.
Numerous places exist, including homestays and hostels like Legends Backpackers whose vibe kind of seems like something out of Vang Vieng.
- 1 Sondzela Backpackers, Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Malkerns (west on MR103 out of Manzini, then west on MR27, then turn R on sanctuary entrance), ☏ . A very unique hostel that sits inside the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can see various types of African ungulates, zebra, and other wildlife practically on your doorstep. Accommodations are in Eswatini style-huts or in the main lodge adjacent to a large pool and gardens. Here you can meet up with many backpackers from around the world and plan hikes into the highveld terrain. ~$19.
- 2 Lidwala Lodge (off MR103 northwest of Manzini, on Doctor Steven's Drive), ☏ . Cabins and camping, with a pool/jacuzzi, bar, wifi, communal kitchen, nice grounds with a view, good for backpackers or families. ~$14.
- 3 Mantenga Lodge, 2 Mantenga Falls Road Mbabane Hhohho, H106 (just outside the Mantenga Cultural Village), ☏ . Here you can stay where all the other tourists stay. No, but, it's actually a quality place with outdoor pool, wifi, restaurant/bar, comp. breakfast, views and hiking, and superior location. This is kind of like staying at a national park lodge in the US. You should check it out. ~$41.
- 4 Happy Valley Hotel and Casino.
- 5 Benka LifeStyle.
- 6 Lugogo Sun.
- 7 Royal Swazi Spa. This one is rather plush.
Probably you will either be going through Manzini or Mbabane.