Swaziland is becoming one of southern Africa's most sought-after destinations. Nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, this mountain kingdom is one of the world's few remaining absolute monarchies and the smallest country in Africa. It is governed by King Mswati III, who chooses a different wife each year at the annual Reed Dance festival. The country offers a unique cultural insight, allowing you to get to grips with the traditional Swazi way of life.
Include Swaziland in a tailormade itinerary with the Kruger National Park and Kwazulu Natal, which are both within easy driving distance.There are a number of wildlife reserves which provide good game viewing, some stunning mountain landscapes and a few luxury lodges scattered across the country.
Most visitors to Swaziland will drive through the country and spend a few days here. Attractions include visiting the Ezulwini River Valley - meaning Valley of Heaven - riverine forest and waterfalls sandwiched between the mountains. The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby, the first and most famous reserve in Swaziland with an array of antelope and some rather friendly hippos!
It is certainly worth paying a visit to the Ngwenya Glass Village where stunning glass sculptures (animals, birds, etc) are made before your eyes. Swaziland offers a range of arts and crafts and is the perfect place to buy African souvenirs! Activities include white water rafting on the Usutu River, hiking and climbing in the mountains, good birding and traditional game drives and bush walks. And if you visit in August, be sure to witness the Reed Dance or 'Umhlanga', when the king chooses a wife from a gathering of bare-breasted maidens.
Swaziland is certainly not a Big Five Safari destination, but it is an ideal choice for those wishing to get off the beaten track and get a sense of rural Africa, with its small towns and sleepy homesteads. It is easy to reach from both South Africa and Mozambique, and with its good road network, the country lends itself well to a self-drive holiday, especially considering its proximity to both the Kruger National Park and Kwazulu Natal. Most visitors do not require a visa to enter the country; it is pretty safe to visit and there are very few health risks apart from malaria.
Facts and Information
Swaziland is the smallest country in Africa and in the southern hemisphere, measuring an area of 17,000km², roughly the size of Wales. It is home to an estimated 1 million people, mainly from the Swazi tribe. It is one of the world's few remaining absolute monarchies, ruled by King Mswati III. The King rules in conjunction with his mother and appoints a prime minister, and some members of parliament, though he still wields executive power.
Swaziland is nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, and though it is an independent kingdom with its own laws, it remains economically dependent on South Africa and its currency is tied to the Rand. It is a safe travel destination, with a good road network which makes getting around pretty easy. Apart from malaria and taking the relevant medication, travellers have few health risks to worry about, though please note that Swaziland has the world's highest rate of HIV/Aids.
The country can be visited all year round with hot and wet summers (October-April) and dry, cool winters which are better for game viewing. It is a mountainous country with the Lubombo Mountains on the eastern border with Mozambique and the Highveld is located in the west of the country. In between there is lowveld vegetation with the altitude ranging from 250m here to 1200m in the mountains. There are a number of game reserves across the country providing good value for money though the Kruger National Park is just an one's hour drive away, as are many attractions in Kwazulu Natal.
Official languages: English, SiSwati
Religion: Zionist (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship) 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish and other 30%
Currency: Lilangeni (tied to South African Rand) - travellers can also generally pay in Rand. There are banks in the main towns, while credit cards are widely accepted.
Visa: Most travellers do not require a visa to enter Swaziland, while certain nationals can obtain a free visa upon arrival. So you should have no problem, whether arriving by air or road.
Agriculture: sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, cattle.
Travelling to Swaziland
Swaziland is easily reached from South Africa by road, whether you are coming from the north, south or west. There are a number of border posts and most nationals do not require a visa or are granted one free of charge upon arrival. Very few visitors fly into Swaziland, but the Matsapha Airport does receive flights from Johannesburg with SA Airlink.
As the smallest country in Africa, Swaziland is easy to get around and can easily be covered in a day. It has a good road network and is an ideal self-drive destination. From its northern border, it is just an hour's drive to the Kruger National Park, from its southern border it is close to most of the attractions in Kwazulu Natal and it borders Mozambique to the east so it is not far from Maputo and Indian Ocean beaches. It really is the epicentre of southern Africa!
Thus, it is hardly surprising that Swaziland is often combined in a tailor-made itinerary with a Big Five Safari in the Kruger National Park, home to some of the world's premier game viewing. You could also spend some time among the majestic Drakensberg mountains and historic battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Wetlands and World Heritage site of St Lucia. Or you can head east from Swaziland and kick back with a lazy beach holiday on the palm-fringed and picture perfect Mozambican coastline.
NB: Our consultants have been to Swaziland and visited all the lodges we advertise. We can organise everything from your international flights to your domestic charters or road transfers. Don't stress out about planning your journey - leave it to us and we will make it a pleasure. Don't delay - Get free, no-obligation advice to plan your tailor-made trip!