Having been to South Africa a few separate times, on this past trip I was looking to do something a little different. Scanning the map around Johannesburg, my eye drifted to the east. I’d be doing some safari experiences in Botswana, so Kruger park was less of a draw than it might have been otherwise. However, something unique and foreign caught my attention just beneath it: Eswatini, the small country formerly known as Swaziland. I was intrigued about this kingdom within a country and would be even more enthralled by it when we crossed over the mountainous border and entered the Valley of Heaven. We definitely needed a heavenly hotel to stay in a place with such a magical name, and we found that at the magnificent Mantenga Lodge. Journey to this attractive hotel in the most beautiful setting below.
The Valley of Heaven
The Mantenga Lodge is nestled in the most idyllic location in the Ezulwini Valley (the Valley of Heaven). This is around a 40-minute drive from the South African border and about 4 hours from Johannesburg. There are also flights into the local King Mswati III International Airport which is around an hour and a half away. The Ezulwini Valley is home to some of the top sites of interest of Eswatini, making the Mantenga Lodge an excellent base for exploring the country. In fact, it borders the famous Swazi Cultural Village (pictured above) and the Mantenga Nature Reserve. It’s also a short drive from the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and a number of excellent craft centers. Ngwenya Glass works and other sites are also only a 30 minute drive away. Plus, straight from the lodge you can admire the legendary, “Execution Rock,” the former site from which … well I think you can gather what it was used for. Today only a peaceful aura reigns over this natural wonder.
Comfort Hidden in Nature
The Mantenga Lodge is an owner-run hotel and their special care and personal touch is obvious throughout. The staff are extraordinarily welcome and truly make you feel at home. The hotel is so convenient, however, since it’s found down a long lane, it is encircled by the gorgeous nature of the valley. In addition to splendid views from your room and/or the terrace of the restaurant, the lodge has greenery everywhere. Lovely pathways fringed by peaceful gardens connect the different room area to the restaurant and the large swimming pool.
A Renowned Restaurant with an Incredible View
The Mantenga has one of the best restaurants in the whole area and it’s luckily also open to non-guests of the lodge. While it has an attractive interior, it’s the terrace and its magical view where everyone wants to sit (so be sure to reserve to get the best tables!). With the backdrop of Execution Rock and the tropical forest, choose from a wide array of delicious international cuisine along with some local specialities. If you’re a seafood fan, your meat could be flambéed before your eyes! When the sun goes down, the terrace is lit by candles, creating a very romantic ambiance.
Deluxe Rooms & Charming Chalets
I was a guest of Mantenga Lodge, however, all of the opinions expressed above all entirely my own.
A special thank you to Josh Heise for joining in on the adventure and for taking some of the above photos!