Backpacking in Swaziland: Touring Gone Rural Handmade Gifts Centre

Backpacking in Swaziland: Touring Gone Rural Handmade Gifts Centre

When I look back on my travels so far in life, one of the most surprising countries for me was Swaziland. I just loved the place, there were a load of small yet cool things to see and do. This place, situated near the town of Mahlanya was called Gone Rural.
Swaziland as a small nation kingdom does well in its mass production of random products. Here at Gone Rural they make many items for around the house including bowls, table mats and lampshades. Our tour starts by being taken outside to see the natural long grass. Of course the colour is naturally light brown, green and even black, but in different sections, the grass (more like thick straw or hay) is dyed and separated by colour as it dries outside in the gardens in the Swazi sun…the coloured grass looks like this once its dry…
We meet the local ladies who handcraft all these souvenirs as they while away the hours in happiness. An interesting lifestyle and no pressure for them. They can take as long as they want to make these handcrafted gifts. Not so much a factory but an upstairs room where they work hard to make these handcrafted gifts for distribution all around the world. The gifts are all fair trade and the ladies are very friendly to tourists.
A selection of colourful lampshades that could easily double up as hats and numerous other things. All handmade here from twisting and tying together burnt and dyed grass. Using their hands only. There are not many machines at Gone Rural.
Each handcrafted item gets as Gone Rural tag on it. For distribution all over the world.
I liked the Swazi beer pots, but I was travelling light when backpacking in Swaziland so couldn’t really buy many gifts.
A backlog of Swazi newspapers – the workers there are free to read, watch TV and listen to music as they hand craft the souvenirs to their heart’s content.
A few of the ladies in action in one of the upstairs rooms.
Almost finished this massive bowl. Could be used for fruit, who knows where it will end up.
The view from their “factory” window looks out to a hot climate and drying grass ready for the next lot of hand crafted souvenirs to be made.
Like a lot of these tours, of course there is a shop with the opportunity to buy some direct from the factory. I did buy a postcard and a beeded Swaziland pin which I later gave to Panny Yu. The shop was great. I could have bought a lot in there, but given that this was towards the end of one of my trips, my bag was heavy with souvenirs as things stood.
The amount of gifts and souvenirs in Swaziland is endless. The country really has a sense of pride in producing hand crafted items.
I went here on my first full morning in Swaziland and having arrived at the hostel the night before and not stopped anywhere other than the border, it was here at Gone Rural that I first spent Emalangeni (Swaziland currency). They are set at the same level as the South African Rand to make things easier. It’s very rare for someone to travel to Swaziland having not also been to South Africa, given that Swaziland itself is landlocked inside South Africa (as is Lesotho) and also borders Mozambique.
My final photo at Gone Rural. The smiling face of a lovely place. Thanks!
What – Gone Rural, A place where beautiful hand made home accessories and gifts are produced
How Many People Work There – 700 (all women)
Countries The Souvenirs Are Sent To – England, USA, South Africa, France, Australia
Transport Used – Red Swaziland Tour Van
Weather – Very hot, gorgeous sunshine
Nationalities Met – Swazi, English, Welsh, Israeli
Strange Currencies – Swaziland Emalangeni
Key Song – 
U2 – BEAUTIFUL DAY (the song just fits the mood perfectly):
My Videos –

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