One of the few remaining monarchies, the Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland) is a mere 4 hour drive from Johannesburg, South Africa. Rich in tradition and culture, and seemingly untouched by the Western world, once a year tens of thousands of foreigners arrive for the MTN Bushfire music festival.
OUR DRIVE TO THE KINGDOM
On a clear Autumn Thursday morning, we began our journey to the border before the lunch time traffic hit. Perfectly maintained roads made the trip a pleasure. About an hour from the border is a rest stop clearly designed for the pleasure of tourists and locals alike.
It is called ‘Alzu’, and like most rest stops has a petrol station and a few restaurants – but unlike any other has a watering hole where wild, black rhinos can be spotted in the dozens! What an incredible surprise!! After a great meal, we were back on the road to Swaziland.
LIVING IN ‘EDEN’
Our home for the weekend was a guesthouse appropriately named ‘Eden’. It was set in what felt like, the heart of a rainforest. Surrounded by lush, green vegetation with a colonial style interior decor. It had a charming appeal run solely by older, local men that knew the area well. Every morning the same gentleman would come take our breakfast order and provide useful insights as to great, must-do activities.
LEARNING ABOUT THE LOCAL CULTURE
Before the festival began we had the morning free so took a drive to one of the main tourist attractions – the Mantenga Cultural Village.
Entry is about ZAR100.00 per person for the daily 11.30am show of song, dance and drums! It was incredible – I was even pulled in to dance in the show! Best believe we took tons of pics! Check out the video : Dancing and Drums in Mantenga Cultural Village
ONE WITH NATURE
A short drive from the village was a beautiful, serene little picnic spot overlooking a local waterfall. The travel blogger in me could not resist – luckily I had one of my tropical swimsuits handy – ready for the perfect shot!
TIME TO PARTY
The main stage at the MTN Bushfire music festival opened at 6pm on Friday, so after our adventures at the waterfall we went home to shower and freshen up. The temperature at night dropped as low as 10°C – so it is wise to pack warm clothing.
I was there shooting for MTV Base so between takes I’d wear my big jacket – but for TV’s sake I wore a shiny sequin jacket, leggings and DocMartens.
Saturday and Sunday were super fun days for me because this is when the festival was in the full swing of things! With the sun out the fashionistas came out to play – I took full advantage of the warm weather to wear this gold chain bikini top & ripped denims.
The whole venue was covered with lawn – so sandals, slides or sneakers were the perfect shoes to wear. Do not suffer in heels my darling it’s so not worth it!
A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
With over 30 Thousand People attending, there truly was something for everyone. A Global Food market was open all day and night , and catered every cuisine you can think of, from American style corn-dogs to Chinese stir fry, to vegan food stalls, and Ethiopian coffee made fresh on the fire!
A ‘Kid-zone’ was also a service provided where parents could safely leave their children all day to play while they enjoy the live performances on one of the four stages.
I enjoyed the market place within the festival where local craftsmen and designers could show off their creations : from wooden clocks to hand made leather sandals. Lots of people chose to live in the campsite for the weekend – we interviewed a few of the campers for a special episode of MTV Cribs – check out what they had to say : MTV Cribs at Bushfire
*TOURIST TIP : There are tons of gorgeous stalls within the festival – but if you go for a walk outside the festival, along side the road – local vendors can be a lot less pricey! I got this stunning dress for only R350.00!!*
A RAINBOW NATION REALISED
For the longest time in South Africa I have heard the phrase “rainbow nation” – an idea of multiple races coming together as one.
For the first time in Swaziland, I witness this concept in its truest form come to life. People from all over the world – Belgium, South Africa, New York, France and even Zimbabwe coming together to celebrate music, great food and different cultures. There were no “cliques”, no division, only laughter and unity – as corny as that may sound. It was an inspiring moment to be a part of – and the fact that this all went down on African soil filled me with such pride, and hope that this is what our world could be one day.
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