Abstract End-to-end delay, power consumption, and communication cost are some of the most important metrics in a mobile ad hoc network (MANET) when routing from a source to a destination. Recent approaches using the swarm intelligence (SI) technique proved that the local interaction of several simple agents to meet a global goal has a significant impact on MANET routing. In this work, a hybrid routing intelligent algorithm that has an ant colony optimisation (ACO) algorithm and particle swarm optimisation (PSO) is used to improve the various metrics in MANET routing. The ACO algorithm uses mobile agents as ants to identify the most feasible and best path in a network. Additionally, the ACO algorithm helps to locate paths between two nodes in a network and provides input to the PSO technique, which is a metaheuristic approach in SI. The PSO finds the best solution for a particle’s position and velocity and minimises cost, power, and end-to-end delay. This hybrid routing intelligent algorithm has an improved performance when compared with the simple ACO algorithm in terms of delay, power consumption, and communication cost.