On the Jeppe’s Reef border post, between Swaziland and South Africa, a quite unique cultural experience awaits the visitor in the form of the Matsamo Cultural Park.
Matsamo is an authentic village where tourists learn how the Swazi lived for centuries. Here they see children playing as their forefathers played, and they get to watch a lively performance of traditional dance and singing. Depending on a particular group’s preferences, demonstrations of cooking, beadwork, weaving or drumming are staged.
The cultural park has a well-stocked, sprawling curio shop and an African themed restaurant seating 300 set around a small dam (often home to a crocodile or two) and among dense, subtropical foliage.
The park was the inspiration of the Nkomazi Tribal Authority. The leaders wondered how their impoverished community could reach out to the coach loads of tourists passing from the Kruger National Park and Nelspruit into Swaziland and, in the process, create much-needed jobs.
In recent years the park has started to appealing to a whole new audience – locals who come to Matsamo for the experience. Most of these visitors spend the night in Matsamo’s rooms. But these are by no means ordinary rooms. At night, after dinner and a cultural experience, lamps lead visitors from the restaurant area through the bush to a kraal or homestead, where the park’s 21 rooms are grouped together around a blazing fire, each room affording maximum privacy.
What makes the Matsamo rooms unique is that they are traditional Swazi beehive-shaped huts covered with thatch which has to be renewed every two years. Authentic to the last detail, visitors have to stoop to pass through the low entrance. Inside, they are amazed at the amenities on offer: each room is completely waterproof and equipped with air conditioning, showers, kettles and even safe-deposit boxes.
Matsamo is approximately 50km from the Kruger National Park, situated at the Jeppes Reef Border Post between South – Africa and Swaziland on the R570 National road. As one of best cultural experiences in South Africa; it is definitely worth a visit.
Telephone: 013 781 0578