Ngwenya Glass Factory

Amongst the imposing mountains that protect the tiny African kingdom of Swaziland, one mountainous region resembles a crocodile basking in the sun. It’s at the foot of the stone crocodile that passengers aboard the African rail tour will discover the remote village of Ngwenya – home to the famous Ngwenya Glass Factory.

Ngwenya, which is Siswati for ‘crocodile’ is famous for hosting the esteemed Ngwenya Glass Factory. What began as an environmentalist’s dream soon became an inspiring success story where a small group of Swazi craftsmen are hard at work practising the delicate art of glassblowing. These unique pieces attract buyers from all over the world.

The products, which include a variety of custom tableware, drinking glasses, vases, jugs and ornamental African animals, are all handmade from recycled glass – a great deal of which is from soft drink bottles which are collected by locals from all over Swaziland. The people of Swaziland are encouraged to collect the bottles while the craftsmen at Ngwenya Glass work with local schools to instil a sense of environmental responsibility with the students.

With age old artistry, the Ngwenya craftsmen and women breathe life into their work, creating unique interpretations of the animals and birdlife of Africa as well as high quality glassware and tableware. Each item is handmade from 100% recycled glass and is a one-of-a-kind design that buyers can treasure and collect. The Ngwenya Glass products that luxury train journey passengers will see can be found in homes all over the world while their custom-made light fittings and exquisite tableware are commissioned by some of the top hotels in Southern Africa.

Steady growth and popularity have led Ngwenya Glass to expand its territory to South Africa where a sister factory called “Shades of Ngwenya” opened just outside Johannesburg. In 1996, Ngwenya Glass established itself as a sparkling success when it opened the illustrious Ngwenya Glass Boutique in the hub of the exclusive V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.