Taking in the scenery in breathtaking Swaziland

WHETHER you enjoy adventure or tradition, chances are you will love Swaziland.

WHETHER you enjoy adventure or tradition, chances are you will love Swaziland.

Being fainthearted, I was relieved when colleagues and I were taken on a historical, rather than an adventurous outing, though I itched to go quad biking.

There is something for everyone in this tiny country: be it horse-riding, white-water rafting, guided quad trails, adventure caving, paragliding, micro lighting or photographic safaris.

The caving adventure was tempting, especially after we were told that this was one of Swaziland's unique adrenaline pursuits.

The idea of going underground in true speleological fashion, with headlamps and battery packs, in total blackness along muddy passages sent a thrill down my spine.

With so much on offer, we needed much more time than a whistle-stop tour.

Driving along the scenic Ezulwini Valley and taking in its beauty, I was tempted to jump out of the car and just walk across the valleys or climb up the mountains.

The Valley of Heavens, as it is popularly known, offers a wealth of attractions. The lush tropical area is home to luxurious hotels such as the Royal Swazi Spa and other Sun International establishments.

No wonder they call this country the Mountain Kingdom. Swaziland is completely surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

And if you are into mountain climbing, be careful of the Mdzimba Mountain.

A king is buried there and his grave is guarded by soldiers who have been instructed to shoot to kill anyone who comes near the late monarch's resting place. The area is guarded because some locals would like to get their hands on the late king's jewels.

Even pointing at the mountain where the late king is buried is forbidden. You are required to fold your finger when you point at the mountain.

"We believe that pointing at the mountain with a straight finger will bring bad luck.

"It is an African tradition never to point at a grave with a straight finger," tour guide Sandile Mashaba told us.

Besides being entertained by pretty Swazi girls with their traditional dance moves, sometimes even modern ones, the visit to the Mantenga Cultural Village was an eye-opener to the traditions of the Swazi people.

At Execution Rock offenders accused of crimes such as witchcraft were made to walk to the summit from where they were thrown to their death.

This village is full of beehive huts. The entrance was deliberately made small so that you have to crawl in. The logic is that an enemy can be easily fought off if he tried to enter.

Here we were told by our guide how the Swazi people practiced their male-donated culture.

A man would have more than one wife and each one would have her own bedroom where the husband would visit. He would also have his own bedroom where he was allowed to entertain his girlfriends.

Swaziland has the most magnificent mountains, scenery, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, lush and fertile valleys and unique rock formations .

The scenery is breathtaking during the rainy season, but an eyesore in winter when people burn the grass and it turns black and ugly.

The Mountain Kingdom offers much more than the annual reed dance for which it known, when tourist flock there to ogle young girls who honour the queen mother and king.

I was told that the excitement of the visitors stemmed from the wrong perception that the king chooses his next wife on that day. That perception has now been wiped out.

Royal Swazi Spa sales and marketing manager Bennedict Bennett said the hotel was in the process of finalising a package that would include a horse ride to Sheba's Breasts, the distinctive twin-peaks named after the legendary. beautiful and mysterious queen from Ethiopia that history says seduced King Solomon.

From a top, one is said to be able to see the entire Mbabane as well as the Ezulwini Valley.