Mabanda Community Stay

In 2005 African Insight was personally invited by the local chief Nkosi Baleni and the Mabandla Community Trust to develop an authentic cultural experience within the Mabandla Community. This community falls within the Ngwagwane  Conservancy which forms part of the Maloti Drakensburg Transfrontier Park in the southeastern section. Formerly this area was part of the Transkei sited in a fascinating area surrounded by clean rivers and streams enclosed comfortably by the surrounding mountains.

Mabandla 3

The Mabandla Community subscribes to no ‘typical’ form of tourism/hospitality codes. They offer their guests an authentic cultural experience, nothing less, nothing more so if you wish to live and experience Zulu life in a Zulu community, nothing can beat this. This community, due to its relatively inaccessible setting, offers very few of the ‘normal’ comforts associated with ‘developed’ countries however far exceed these needs through genuine heartfelt hospitality, their desire to want to help and positive  attitudes by the whole community.


Visitors are hosted by local families, all of whom speak English, living within the host’s modest houses where they will eat breakfasts and dinner with packed picnic lunches being provided daily. Visitors are placed two to a family and have a private bedroom furnished with two twin beds complete with bedding. These rooms are not serviced as they are private houses and not hotels so the making of beds is the visitor’s responsibility. The Mabandla Community has no electricity or running water. Lighting comes from candles, paraffin lights or gas so visitors are advised to take along a good flash light. Bathing is done using a basin with hot water heated on the fire or gas burner and the toilets are traditional, private long-drops (pit latrines).

Mabandla Cultural Experience and community project with African Insight

Mabandla Cultural Experience and community project with African Insight

Traditional Zulu food is prepared and presented by the families although meat, which is highly sought after, is often excluded from the menu due to its excessive cost. Cattle are regarded more as a currency than as a food source except for important cultural events when animals will be slaughtered. Having said this it is traditional to serve meat when entertaining important guests so meat in the form of chicken, lamb or beef stew is served every night. This meat is purchased along with eggs and milk from a regular supermarket. Expect a variety of Zulu vegetarian dishes obtained from the host’s garden or from the local community gardens. Sampling these traditional dishes is an important aspect of the experience and absolutely delicious. Food refused by visitors for non-medical reasons is viewed as impolite so care must be taken not to offend the hosts. For this reason we request that you refrain from taking your own food to the community. It is important to bear in mind that the community has very limited resources available to them however they usually provide fruit with every meal and drinking water that has been boiled and filtered is always available.


Nigel Anderson

Guide at African Insight

About Andrew Anderson

Managing Director: African Insight - Travel Experiences That Make A Difference African Insight - Explorations Tourism Concessionaire - Somkhanda Game Reserve
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