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After the festive season, the second most commercialised time of the year has got to be February; Valentine’s month. Think moonlight strolls in parks, candlelit dinners in the city and all sorts of romantic gestures and activities. Valentine’s Day is a big deal; not just for those who coin big off of it, but for the ones who believe in the holiday and religiously celebrate it every year. However, every now and then you need to switch things up. You know, try something a little different. If you’re looking for new ideas of what to do on Valentine’s Day then you’ve come to the right cyber place. I have put together three of my most recommended must-do activities around Eswatini that will definitely put the spark, fun and thrill into your February 14th.

Adventure caving
So maybe you’re an adrenaline junkie and not too hung up on the cheesy element of Valentine’s Day; that’s alright. Neither am I, which is why adventure caving is first on my list. This ultimate experience offered by Swazi trails is an adventure worth having from start to finish. It gives you a unique opportunity to explore all sorts of caverns and their hidden wonders in Ghobolo which happens to be a largely unexplored cave network close to the capital city. The adventure caving experience lasts roughly two hours and involves climbing crawling and scrambling through hundreds of caverns beautifully hidden below ground and if you’re reading this and feeling a wee bit concerned about if it’s safe or not, the answer is that it is. All participants are supplied with helmets, cap lamps and battery packs, making it a safe and fun activity. Caving trips can be taken in the morning or in the evening, but I strongly recommend the evening because that trip ends with a hot spring for rest and pizza and drinks for refreshment. Pretty neat, right?

Cultural Tours
If you’re visiting Eswatini this week, then this is perfect for you but if you’re a local, it doesn’t count you out. It’s easy for us Eswatini folk to adopt the notion that cultural tours are strictly reserved for the tourists and I get it. However, it’s still not an excuse to miss out on your own culture and to dabble a little in it every now and then, especially with how globalised and modern our society has become. So, if you’re fresh out of ideas of what new experience to have with your other half; why not try the Lobamba village walking tour by All out Africa. Starting with a run through on Swazi history at the national museum, this half day tour will take you through one of the oldest villages and cultural epicentres in the country. Skirting past the royal Ludzidzini residence, through various homesteads, small scale businesses, an art gallery with occasional live performances and even a traditional pub that brews sorghum beer. This tour takes about three and a half hours and departs daily by public transport from Lidwala backpackers lodge. A little unconventional for Valentine’s day but still exciting nonetheless and if you’ve done it all, the wining and dining that is, then this will be a valentine’s day to remember.

Swazi Candles Centre
Located in the picturesque Malkerns area, the Swazi candles centre is one of our most loved Afrocentric places in the country. The centre is home to a candle factory that crafts a variety of magnificent wax creations; from cute standard candles, to colourful miniature animal ones, making it the perfect stopover for a curiosity hunter. The centre also houses a myriad of wonderful stores to shop from. Like Tsandza weaving that sells luxurious traditionally woven textiles, to the Baobab batik store that will captivate you with its vibrant African designs and even the Black mamba shop that offers inspired gifts for food lovers. Serving their famous chilli sauces, chutneys and handmade sweets and making it a dangerously delicious spot. You can even sit down for a cup of coffee at the Sambane Coffee Shoppe or try out their hearty meals that can be enjoyed on their beautiful patio. The art lovers are catered for too with the Yebo art gallery and its unique works of art. It’s quite obvious that Swazi candles has a little something for every kind of explorer and if this tickles your fancy, take a drive down to the centre on Valentine’s Day. Might even get a little lucky and find a fitting gift for your valentine.

Hate it or love it, Valentine’s Day is one of the most romanticised holidays of the year and deservingly so. But this year, I urge you to forget the strolls under moonlight or picnics in the park. Forgo the romantic dinners and the overstuffed teddy bears and instead do something a little on the edge of different. Find an adventure and live it out. Make memories that will last longer than those traditional red roses and the dentist’s nightmare of chocolates. My top three must do activities for the day are fun, exciting and can be enjoyed either in pairs or even alone; accommodative of singles and all. And the great part of it, is that all three are within an easy drive from the Mountain inn. So really, what do you have to lose? Make this year’s Valentine’s Day a new experience.

After all, what’s that phrase about “when in Eswatini.” again?

Okay, it’s not exactly coined yet but still. I dare you.