Swaziland (eSwatini)

Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of eSwatini, is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south. As one of the few remaining monarchies in Africa, culture and heritage are deeply engrained in all aspects of Swazi life. Eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa; despite this, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous Highveld to a hot and dry Lowveld. As small as it may be, Swaziland is an exciting tourist destination with its Arts & Crafts Outlets, traditional markets, wildlife reserves and stunning scenery of mountains and valleys, forests and plains. 

Top 5 places to visit

Hlane Royal National Park is Swaziland´s largest game reserve and with its adjacent dispersal areas covers 30,000 hectares of Swazi bushveld, dominated by ancient hardwood vegetation. Hlane which means “wilderness” in the siSwati language is home to the Big Five and the largest herds of game in the kingdom, with an abundant and diverse bird life, including the highest density of nesting White-backed Vultures in Africa. The park conserves vast natural resources and holds deep royal and cultural significance. Guided game drives, game walks and self-drive compliment the affordable accommodation.

Mlilwane Wildlife SanctuarySwaziland´s pioneer conservation area, covers 4,560 hectares and is a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in the Ezulwini Valley, in between Mbabane and Manzini. It is flanked by the dramatic backdrop of mountains and the huge Usuthu Forest stretching into the distance. The southern portion of the sanctuary can be explored by foot, vehicle, on horseback and on mountain bikes. Those who simply want to relax can sit back in the camps and enjoy the tranquility of nature. It is Swaziland’s Outdoor Lover’s Paradise and the kingdom’s most popular eco-destination for locals and internationals alike.

Swaziland’s Ezulwini Valley, also known as “the Valley of Heaven” is the center of Swazi crafts and culture and is located between the two cities of Mbabane and Manzini. It is surrounded on all four sides by magnificent mountains, making this north-western corner of Swaziland truly a little piece of heaven. So it is no surprise that it became Swaziland’s main tourist area offering a variety of activities in and around the valley, some of which are hiking, caving, art galleries, horse riding, mountain biking, golf and quad biking and more.

The Arts & Crafts and traditional markets of Swaziland are undoubtedly one of the Kingdom’s greatest attractions. A thriving handicrafts industry combines the best of traditional design and modern techniques and a stop at a craft market will yield both a bargain and the opportunity of meeting the Swazi people. Wooden sculpture, painstaking soapstone carvings, glassware, mohair, tapestries, imaginative pottery, and silk-screened batiks and clothing present an array of colours, textures, and designs to tempt every pocket.

Swazi Craft Market

The Umhlanga Reed Dance is Swaziland’s best-known cultural event. In this eight-day ceremony, young girls cut reeds and present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) – ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence – and then dance in celebration. Up to 40,000 girls take part, dressed up in brightly coloured attire – making it one of the biggest and most spectacular cultural events in Africa. The event takes place around the last week of August / first week of September in the Lobamba area, next to the Ezulwini Valley.

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General Information

Currency: Swaziland Lilangeni (SZL) – plural Emalangeni (E)

The Lilangeni is fixed to and equals the South African Rand, and the Rand is accepted as payment throughout the country, but not the other way around. In larger cities there are ATMs where you can withdraw cash with international debit and credit cards (Visa & Mastercard). Your card needs to have a chip and pin. Payment by credit card is mainly accepted in larger cities in hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, debit cards are not often accepted for direct payments. It is a good idea to always have some cash with you in case of emergencies or when shopping in remote areas. In addition, some petrol stations do not accept international cards.

While changing money at a Bureau de Change is possible, it is not recommended as it is often a complicated and lengthy process.

Please be sure to advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country as they may block access to your card if they do not know that you are currently travelling.

For current exchange rates please use this website. 

Official Languages: Swazi (siSwati) and English

Visa: Citizens of most Commonwealth countries, the USA, Japan, and most EU countries don´t need a visa. Please check this list to see whether you need a visa.

Please also consult the Swaziland Embassy or Consulate for any updates before departure, especially when travelling with children.

Independence: 6 September 1968 from Britain

Religion: Christian 90%, Muslim 2%, Other 8%

Souvenirs: Swazi bead work, jewellery, candles, wood carving

Agricultural Products: Sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts

Main Industries: Coal mining, forestry, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles, and apparel

Best time to visit: Swaziland is a year-round destination, but if you’re hoping to see wildlife, the best time to go to Swaziland is in the dry winter months of May-Sep. Summer (Oct-Apr) is hot and wet, but the scenery is gorgeously green and there’s abundant birdlife and local culture.

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