The kingdom of Swaziland is a place where ancient traditions and customs are carefully upheld by its people, under a loyalty to one of the most enduring monarchies on the continent. What remains is a country defined by its authentic African nature, where tiny villages made up of traditional huts and small, relaxed cities stand in a diverse landscape ranging from magnificent vistas of mountainous Highveld to the hot and dry lowveld.
Visitors will most likely begin their discovery of Swaziland’s abundant attractions at the hub of Swazi arts and culture in the Ezulwini Valley. Within the heavenly rolling green hills of the valley is everything from a wild array of wildlife in a variety of national parks, to fascinating history at the cultural village. Touring Swaziland’s many traditional craft markets will present visitors with a wondrous display of arts and crafts.
Both its biggest city and capital, Mbabane and Manzini, the hub of Swaziland, are great bases from which to tour the country and its numerous tourist attractions, many of which start just outside its borders. Due to the major variations of altitude in the country its climate is very diverse, ranging from tropical to near temperate. Swaziland’s only commercial airport is in Manzini.
- Ancient traditions and customs are held throughout the country, creating an authentic African atmosphere
- Diverse landscape ranging from magnificent vistas of mountainous Highveld to the hot and dry Lowveld
- Ezulwini Valley is the hub of Swazi arts and culture
- Swaziland is home to many traditional Swazi crafts markets
- The remote village of Ngwenya is home to the renowned Ngwenya Glass Factory
- Both the capital Mbabane and Manzini are great bases from which to tour the country
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!