Things to Do In Swaziland / eSwatini
Although Swaziland is among the smallest countries on the African continent,, it is one of the amazing tourist destination that should not be missed while planning your safari in Africa. this beautiful destination offers a variety of activities among which are mountain biking, scenic drives, white water rafting, game viewing and has one of the most exciting and unique cultures on the entire continent.
In 2018 in the month of April, the Mswati III announced that the country’s name ‘Swaziland’ which was given by the British colonists was to exist no more and from then on the country as to known as eSwatini.
The numerous tourism projects in Swaziland are well organized and offer holidaymakers an opportunity to enjoy the remarkable ethnicity and hospitality of the Swazi people as you also explore the pristine wilderness found in the country. Due to its amazing diversity, you will surely have so much to do on your holiday here. During your cultural visits you will have personal encounters with the local people, learn about their tradition and heritage and also get a chance to buy some souvenirs from their hand crafted pieces of art and craft.
Below we bring you the top things to do and places to go on your visit in Swaziland.
The Reed Dance
In case you visit Swaziland during the time of the Umhlanga Reed Dance you will surely be a lucky holiday maker as this dance is one of the most fascinating cultural celebrations on the African continent. this annual event that is usually celebrated at the end of the month of August when all the Reed in the country are fully grown and are ready to be harvested takes about 8 days celebration. During this event the Swazi maidens who include unwedded girls that have never given birth get a chance to pay homage to Swaziland’s Queen mother Indlovukazi. Just before this event commences the girls gather up in one place from different parts of the country into a place where they are taken good care of and mentored by different captains that are appointed directly by the Royal family. the girls then head out to cut the reeds as part of the tradition and then they bring them back to this Royal residence to build a perimeter that acts as a windbreaker. One would wonder, ‘what is the intention of this entire ceremony?’ well this ceremony aims to promote solidarity among the girls.
On the seventh day of the celebration the King joins in and it is actually marked as a national holiday. During this day’s celebrations, thousands and thousands of local and international spectators fill up the arena as they watch the girls salute and energetically dance for the Queen mother Indlovukazi. His Majesty the king also makes several rounds as he salute the large number of girls who vigorously cheer him on in return.
The Sibebe Rock is the world’s second largest exposed granite rock coming second to the Uluru found in the northern part of Australia. it is found approximately ten kilometers (10 km) from Mbabane the capital site and its huge size can be observed right from the bottom. Courageous and adventurous tourists can dare to take on the four hour round walk to the top of this rock led by a local guide. Unlike the Uluru found in Austria, the three billion year old Sibebe Rock does not receive a very large number of tourists.
The Mantenga Cultural Village
Swaziland being a country known for its unique culture no visit to this country with b e considered Complete without a visit to any of its cultural groups and be entertained by their dances and songs. The Mantenga cultural village which is found close to the Mantenga Falls Nature Reserve welcomes guests to come and learn about their amazing traditions and even enjoy entertainment by that energetic dances and harmonic songs. At the end of the entertainment guests will get an opportunity to visit the reconstruction of an ancient Swazi hat village that was established in the 1850s. During this tour the local guides will take you from one hut to another offering you additional information about the special diet, family structure and traditions of these people. You will also get a chance to visit the Mantenga waterfall which is located a short walk from this village. There is an on-site restaurant that serves both international and local food and persons interested in spending a night here will also have a chance to sleep at any of the different accommodation facilities around. This cultural village was established with an aim to enable all its visitors both local and international to learn about and uphold a positive interest of the cultural heritage of the Swazi people which includes their art and crafts, language, folklore, customs and practices, their music and dance as well as the different rituals they practice.
Go white water rafting
When you explore the Usutu River you will get an opportunity to enjoy various water adventures with the most popular one being white water rafting. the Swazi trail are the only tour operator in the country that offer this amazing one-of-a-kind adventure with full day and half day white water rafting packages available. Participants do not need any prior experience and they will be in the company of well-trained guides throughout the entire adventure
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
The Mbuluzi Game Reserve is a privately owned conservancy that is found in northeastern Swaziland and covers an area of 3,000 acres and it found on the lower slopes of the Lubombo Mountains. its varied terrain includes thick forests, grass fields, swampy river banks as well as rocky outcrops which serve as home to a great diversity of wildlife including kudus, giraffes, zebras, impalas, plus more than 300 different types of birds to mention just a few. There are various tourist activities you can enjoy here as you explore the different lookout points, bird hides, walking paths, hiking trails and the designated self-driving trails. There are various luxury lodges, spacious facilities that can handle families as well as rustic campsites all as options for accommodation.
Hlane Royal National Park
The Hlane is the largest national parks in the whole of Swaziland and its varied landscape serves as home to four (4) of Africa’s big Five animals including elephants, leopards, rhinos and the lions, in addition to many other different wildlife like zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and not to forget the varied profusion of birds. According to the SiSwati language the word ‘Hlane’ means ‘wilderness’ which is the perfect description of this wildlife sanctuary. The national park is normally visited by several tourists especially during the peak tourist season who come to see Swaziland’s amazing wildlife. In case you interested in spending a night here you can book accommodation at the Ndlovu camp that overlooks a waterhole which is commonly visited by a large number of elephants and white rhinos. This camp serves as a perfect place to base when you are having a game drives in the national park.
Mkhaya Game Reserve
The Mkhaya game reserve is among the largest wildlife sanctuaries founding Swaziland and it is located in the Southeastern part of this country. it is one of the recommended places to visit on a single day tour however holidaymakers with some additional Safari time can opt to spend a night at any of its different accommodation facilities including Stone Camp which offers single cottages and double cottages and because of its location it provides its guests with utmost privacy and comfort with uninterrupted wildlife views in the comfort of your room.
The ngwenya glass is the most prominent Glass factory on the African continent, and pieces made from here can be found in almost every art gallery and major airports across the world. therefore, during your visit in Swaziland you should make use of that great opportunity to visit the factory and purchase some beautiful art pieces at a very friendly price. the ancient glass-blowing techniques which for several years have been passed on from one generation to another among the local Craftsman of Swaziland are what this factory uses ever since its establishment in 1987. Some of the amazing beautiful pieces you will find here are a variety of day-to-day household items including wine glasses, wine poppers, beautiful chess set, animal bowls and a great variety of corporate gifts. During your tour, you will get an opportunity to observe the glass-blowing process while viewing from the designated viewing platform in the workshop.
The Swazi Candles
Swaziland as a country s popular for its amazing original pieces of art and crafts that are mainly sold in the different crafts markets across the country. The candle Craft market in Swaziland is an exceptional shopping center where you will find a large number of different art works done by the local artisans. There are numerous gift shops and boutiques where you will find an array of colored paraffin wax candles, beauty products that are nicely scented in addition to many other locally made gifts. The candles here hand molded into various animal shapes as well as the more familiar shapes of candles. You will surely be stunned by the remarkable patterns and spectacular designs on the pieces made here which make them the perfect souvenir to carry back home at the end of your visit. After your tour you can proceed to the courtyard where you will find the woven crafts market where you will see several wood carvers going about their work. Among the other different items sold at this Craft center are: carved masks, woven basket jewelry and batik prints.
Shewula Mountain Camp
The first eco-tourism attraction found in Mozambique that is owned by the community is the Shewula Mountain Camp found inside the Shewula Nature Reserve. This amazing facility awards its guests breathtaking views over the Mlawula Reserve and the Mbuluzi Reserves, in addition to various activities such as village tours to meet the local people in the area, learn about their culture and be entertained by traditional songs and dance, explore the surrounding area or visit the local area. There is overnight accommodation provided in huts that can serve as single ore family size units for visitors ready to stay in a rural setting where you will get a chance to enjoy some of the scrumptious homemade food prepared using fresh vegetables from the gardens.
Frequently asked Questions on Swaziland eSwatini
We have compiled a number of frequently asked questions about visiting Swaziland eSwatini that we believe will help you better understand this destination as well as prepare for your visit.
Is it safe to travel to Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Yes, by large Eswatini (Swaziland) is considered to be a safe destination however I cannot fail to point out that just as it is in most major cities there is some crime in the major towns so we advise you to be vigilant of bag snatchers and pick-pocketers. Avoid exposing your valuable items such as phones, camera and laptops so as not to attract attention of wrong doers. Also do not move with so much cash on you or expensive jewelry especially when moving to the busy town centers; keep them locked up in your safe box provided in your hotel.
What are the Visa and passport requirements to visit eSwatini (Swaziland)?
Persons’ visiting eSwatini are required to have a passport valid for a minimum of three (3) to be given official entry into the country. People visiting the country on holiday as tourists or as business travelers will be allowed into the country for a maximum of thirty (30) days, however, they can apply for a visa extension for another thirty (30) days through the Ministry of Home Affairs. If your stay in eSwatini is for more than sixty (60) days, you will instead require a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP).
in case you are have citizenship from any of the Commonwealth countries, Japan and majority of the European Union countries and you are visiting the country on holiday as a tourist you will NOT need a VISA. However, you are advised to visit the Eswatini High commission in your home country to get the latest updates on the Visa and Passport requirements prior to traveling.
Do I need any vaccines when going to Eswatini (Swaziland)?
according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, there are a number of vaccinations recommended to be taken by all persons visiting eSwatini (Swaziland) and these include: hepatitis A, mumps, measles plus rubella (MMR), influenza, polio, hepatitis B, pneumonia, typhoid, meningitis, shingles, yellow fever, chickenpox, rabies as well as Tdap ( which includes: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
Is Eswatini (Swaziland) a malaria risk-free country?
The biggest part of the Eswatini (Swaziland) is free of malaria and in the recent years, cases of malaria have been extremely rare. It’s rumored that malaria as a disease could have been eradicated from this country.
What is the Time zone of Eswatini (Swaziland)?
The time zone for Eswatini is GMT+1.
Do I need travel insurance when traveling Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Yes you do. All persons visiting eSwatini are highly recommended to purchase a good insurance cover before beginning their safari. It is best advised that you get one that covers medical repatriation, cutting short of your safari and cancellation. That will give you rest knowing that you won’t lose money especially if you are faced by a situation that may result in you canceling your safari or cutting it short. Make a comprehensive research before finally zeroing down to an insurance cover to take. Ensure that it covers all the different activities you will be engaging in such as horse riding, hiking, boat rides, trekking and white water rafting. It is a good practice to make copies of your travel insurance details so that you carry a copy with you wherever you are going.
What is the local currency in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
the Swazi Emalangeni is the local currency used in Swaziland and this can easily to exchanged against South Africa’s Rand with 1 Emalangeni being equivalent to 1SA Rand. Also the South African Rand is accepted across Swaziland for the day to day trade however you will receive the local Emalangeni as change.
Other foreign currencies like the US Dollar can be exchanged at the local currency at any of the banks in the country or at the authorized forex de change
Are credit cards accepted in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Yes, Credit cards are widely accepted in major hotels and up-market shops in the major town and these include the visa card as well as the Mastercard. And there are numerous ATMs in most large cities although most of the do not allow international debit and credit cards.
Is tap water safe to drink in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Although tap water is considered safe to drink, we advise that when you are outside the major towns you take only bottled drinking water and you should ensure that the seal of the water is intact at the time of consumption and always avoid carelessly dumping the water bottles after use. Alternatively you can take purified water.
What is the electric current in eSwatini (Swaziland)?
eSwatini operates on an Electricity current of 230 volt AC and its sockets are similar to South African ‘Type M’ three pins plugs.
What is the acceptable dress code when in eSwatini (Swaziland)?
The general way of dressing in eSwatini is formal, but if you are visiting on a safari, you are recommended to wear natural colors such as the khaki rather than the bright colored ones. if you are going to the higher altitude places, then it is encouraged to pack warm clothing especially during the winter months from April to September. The early mornings as well as the evening are really cold so a sweater or warm jacket will come in handy for game drives.
Is tipping mandatory in eSwatini (Swaziland)?
In restaurants and hotels a service charge is not included in the bill however you are advised to give a 10% customary tip. Tipping is generally considered as a way of appreciating one’s good service to you and it will be gladly received.
Is there internet access in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Most of the big hotels and resorts offer internet service to their guests, and also when you visit the large towns like Mbabane, you will find a number of internet cafes however, smaller towns may not readily have them.
Can I use my cell /mobile phone while in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
The Mobile phone reception in the urban areas is very good however when you go to the very rural corners of the country reception will not be as good. All foreign visitors are advised to activate their mobile phone roaming feature to be able to make international calls.
What is the condition of toilets in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Eswatini (Swaziland) offers a combination of up to date flushable toilets and the squat or pit toilets and this will be based on where you will be staying. The large hotels, city center and modern restaurant offer the modern flash toilets while in the remote areas you will find the squat toilets.
What are the national public holidays in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
New Year’s Day – 1st Jan
New Year Holiday – 2nd Jan
Good Friday – April
Easter Monday – April
King’s Birthday – 19th April
National Flag Day – 25th April
Workers’ Day – 1st May
Ascension Day – 25th May
King Father’s Birthday – 22nd July
Somholo Day – 6th September
Christmas Day – 25th December
Boxing Day – 26th December
What is the religion in Eswatini (Swaziland)?
Eswatini (Swaziland) is a country with multiple religious groups and below we highlight them as per their dominancy as per the population estimations conducted in 2015.
The Christian – 90%
Zionist – a combination of the native ancestral worship and Christianity – 40%
Roman Catholic – 20%
Others including Jehovah’s Witness, Anglican, Mormon and Methodist, – 30%
Others including Jewish, Baha’i, indigenous religionist, Buddhist and Hindu – 8%
Muslim – 2%
Why Visit Swaziland?
Swaziland is an extremely unique destination with regards to wildlife safaris. The African continent has several safari places, however few that provide the intimacy of wildlife viewing as Swaziland. Having runaway from the hype of places like Kenya or Tanzania, and not signing up for the expensive pretentiousness of some safari camps in South African plus Botswana , Swaziland is just under-rated by people that have not been here to try out what insiders have well known for a long time: Swaziland is an African safari treasure.
Presently there Five main parks inside Swaziland and a number of smaller ones. Mkhaya Game Reserve together with Hlane Royal National Park are the BIG Five, wildlife highlights. These two parks are controlled by the Big Game Parks of the Swaziland organization, which is a private-public partnership that has well delivered and exceptional wildlife conservation track record in nearly the last Fifty years.
Why take a safari in Swaziland?
The many Game Parks and Nature Reserves across Swaziland protect a vast variety of animals. From the magnificent ‘Big Five’ to warthogs, antelope and reptiles, Swaziland is home to numerous of Africa’s wild animal species. The emphasis in Swaziland is to provide visitors with a more intimate wildlife experience in areas of natural beauty, and to allow them a certain amount of freedom to explore on their own terms. This is no place for mass tourism and convoys of vehicles but instead, walks to learn about the bush and track rare species like black and white rhino. As well as traditional 4×4 and walking safaris, some of Swaziland’s reserves can also be explored by mountain bike and on horseback. In a number of the reserves visitors are free to move around independently, without the need for a guide or ranger. There are even self catering options amongst the accomodation that allolw you to be in charge of your own ‘safari lodge’ in the bush. There aren’t many places in the world where you can head off for your own bike ride and encounter zebra and bushbuck along the way, or take a stoll to see the giraffe before settling down to your own bush barbeque.
What to see on a safari in Swaziland ?
In case you wish to see several big game, Hlane Royal National Park is the most recommended place to visit. Hlane is the most wildlife rich reserve in Swaziland, and features white rhinos, elephants, and the rarely seen lions. It covers a total land mass of 22,000 hectares of the Swazi – land. Hlane has a number of accommodations including a restcamp and a variety of cottages, and these are fenced off from the wild animals.
A lot more than Three hundred species of birds have been documented in Swaziland’s wildlife reserve. There are many low-level stream crossings which as well offer excellent birding, plus trails going through the riparian forests and over the rugged ridges offering birders enough time to observe the various bird species. Among the most prominent species are the African Fin-foot, Crested Guineafowl, Heron, Yellow-Spotted Nicator and White-backed Hight.
The kind people with an amazing culture; meet the warm and friendly people of Swaziland – a nation that is among the few surviving Executive Monarchies on the African continent and embraces as well as upholds its unique and very old traditions. The people actively keep and uphold an exceptional cultural heritage which is perhaps unparalleled any place in Africa.
The renowned Umhlanga – Reed Dance together with Incwala are some traditional ceremonies which involve thousand of Swaziland people, and draws in visitors from across the planet.
These offer a different point of view on the wildlife. It is not actually similar to an escorted game drive trip, you are on foot and this offers you more closure to Mother Nature’s wonders. You will be able to see some smaller animals, birds plus butterflies as you explore the wild. This is a very unique and rare experience on an African Safari.
Which Safari Company or Tour Operator?
You’ll find a a lot of safari operators in addition to safari companies within Swaziland, and among the best proposed. Most of these companies arrange safaris to varied parts of Swaziland and offer holidaymakers the chance to check out the diverse attractions in Swaziland. At the same time, it’s vital that you be sure that the company you decide on is listed with some of the country’s approved Tourism association
Where to Stay on a Swaziland Safari?
Swaziland features a selection of accommodation establishments around the country including safari lodges, safari camps, regular guest houses, plus the luxurious resorts. There are actually budget lodgings, mid-range plus the magnificent 5 star accommodation; as a result it will all go with your safari budget.
For example: Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge, Piggs Peak Hotel and Casino, Nyanza Guest Cottages, The Place, Simunye Country Club, Mapelepele Cottage, Siphiso Campsite, Singwe Lodge, Tamboti Tented Lodge, Willows Lodge, Umdoni, Brookside Lodge, Foresters Arms Hotel, The George Hotel
When to Go on a Safari in Swaziland?
Like all Southern Hemisphere nations, seasons are reverse to those of most of Europe plus North America found in the Northern Hemisphere. In general, it rains mainly in the summer months, usually in the form of severe storms characteristic of tropical environments, however Swaziland may differ from tropical to temperate.
The winter / dry season lasts starts in mid-April to mid-October, having average temperatures of 20°C (the days are sunny while the nights are cold). The rainy period starts at the finish of October, enduring to the end of March. Throughout the dry seasons the days are very hot as soon as the sun is out, however temperatures may drop rapidly during the night with extra bedding required throughout the year.
Differences in temperature are as well influenced by the elevation of the various regions with the temperatures of as high as 40 degree being recorded in a number of places.
How much does a Swaziland Safari cost?
A 6 days budget safari that starts in Johannesburg, finishes in Durban takes you to the top game parks -including Kruger Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. Explore Swaziland plus South Africa on this cost-effective wildlife adventure. Accommodation is in budget facilities and costs R13950 per person
Are the people of Swaziland Friendly?
Yes the people of Swaziland are very friendly and welcoming as well. A small country with a large heart with warm and friendly people appropriately describes Swaziland – a nation that is among the few surviving Executive Monarchies on the African continent and embraces as well as upholds its unique and very old traditions. The monarchy together with Swaziland people actively keep and uphold a exceptional cultural heritage which is perhaps unparalleled any place in Africa. Guests can get an even better perception of traditional African culture in this country than virtually elsewhere on the continent, and what is observed, including impressive festivals, hasn’t merely been resuscitated for the need of the tourist dollar but is the real thing. The renowned Umhlanga – Reed Dance together with Incwala are some traditional ceremonies which involve thousand of Swaziland people, and draws in visitors from across the planet. However traditional attire, dancing plus ceremonies can be observed all over the country all year round.
What is the Weather like in Swaziland?
Swaziland’s weather conditions are much like those of the northeastern part of South Africa, however remarkably diverse for such a small land. The mountainous Highveld areas experience much cooler temperatures, a lot more mist, plus cloudier conditions compared to the lowland areas having more subtropical climates. The temperatures in the lowland Swaziland can rise up to a sizzling 108°F in the peak of summer that endures from October to March.
Summer is the rainiest season of Swaziland, whereas winter is usually drier. The Eastern part of Swaziland typically experiences less rain compared to the western half of the country. Although the winters of Swaziland are hardly ever irritatingly cold, frost is an infrequent sight within the warmer Highveld. The climate is compared to that of Middle Atlantic – United States, however with drier climate conditions as well as reversed seasons. The temperatures in Mbabane vary slightly all year round, from an average 68°F during summer to a low 55°F during winter.