Backpacking in Swaziland: Touring Swazi Candles Workshop

Backpacking in Swaziland: Touring Swazi Candles Workshop


The sheer joy of touring round Swaziland’s central valleys offered more than you’d expect. We turned up on the roadside by a restaurant and a candle factory. Swaziland has a strong tradition and culture for handcrafted items. 


But it was late afternoon and we were on a tour with Shaun, the English owner of the hostel and he told us how he loved the wee restaurant opposite Swazi Candles – so we stopped there for an afternoon dessert snack.



My colourful rainbow place mat. All made from coloured hay, in Swaziland. They made it at a place called Gone Rural, which you can read about here.



It was time for a late afternoon chocolate brownie with a dollop of fresh cream! This was the first time I had this type of dessert in ages. There were nuts on top. This was recommended by Shaun. It was top quality, but in a country which seemed quite poor in parts, this seemed like an exquisite pudding to have. You wouldn’t imagine Swaziland having the best chocolate brownie puddings in the world, but these are the surprises that travelling throws up.



It was on into the candle factory and you could see the workers in action. It was highly skilled work but relaxed. TV or Radio on if you wanted. The main part of the job was being able to use your hands to mould candles. The section we saw was for animal shaped candles. The worker below was an expert at his job. Give him some candle wax in any shape or form and he will turn it into a candle that looks like an animal within 30 seconds. The candles were all white, then they were given their skin (zebras, elephants, tigers etc.) and this dude just moulds them all day.



The hard worker at Swazi Candles. Oddly I didn’t make a video at Swazi Candles – something I try to do at every different place I visit. The buckets below him are the animal shaped candles floating in water.



You can see the white elephant in behind without the skin, and the skin is a coloured pattern of different material which is added next. Then they are moulded into shape. Here, the guy making them showed us two horny rhinocerouses going for it. As I said, he can mould candle wax into many different things.



They have normal candles of course. These ones are similar to the ones I saw getting made in Holland back in 1991. They are all wrapped and distributed around the world from here. The Swazi Candles logo proudly on them. All fairtrade products.



Rejects end up being in the “seconds” pile – those candles that went wrong – either no wick, out of shape, wrong colour (i.e. a grey tiger instead of an elephant), broken etc. You can buy these. While this report is one of my shortest, I have to say I loved this visit. It was something different. Swaziland really is a nice place to visit!

Where – Swazi Candles, Malkerns, Swaziland


Key Song –

ELTON JOHN – CANDLE IN THE WIND:

A Few Videos –

EXCELLENT VIDEO OF ONE OF THE WORKERS MOULDING A CANDLE:

ANOTHER NICE VIDEO SHOWING THE FACTORY AT SWAZI CANDLES:

AND BECAUSE IT’S JUST SO FUNNY, THE “FOUR CANDLES” SKETCH BY THE TWO RONNIES:
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