Despite being the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, the Kingdom of Swaziland packs a punch with everything it has to offer, brimming with colourful rich culture, laid-back friendly locals, natural beauty and amazing wildllife. With a progressive attitude to wildlife preservation, it boasts a fantastic collection of national parks and game reserves, home to black and white rhino, while there are adventurous activities such as rafting, mountain biking and hiking to be experienced in the stunning landscapes.
Swaziland has 17 protected wildlife areas, with some 500 species of bird and 132 species of mammals recorded, including rhino, giraffe and elephants, and predators such as jackal and hyena. Big cats are a little more elusive. In Hlane Royal National Park, the country's largest protected area, four of the Big Five can be seen - lion, leopard, elephant and rhino - as well as hippo, giraffe, crocodile and many antelope species. There's also a huge variety of birdlife including the highest density of nesting white-backed vultures in Africa.
Mkhaya Game Reserve, a swathe of unspoilt wilderness in the lowveld, is the place to head to see rhino. It offers some of the best opportunities to see black and white rhino on foot as well as by vehicle. Other species are roan and sable antelope, tsessebe, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and exquisite birdlife, including the elusive Narina Trojan.
The first protected area in the kingdom was Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary which remains to this day a picturesque, secluded sanctuary in the Ezulwini Valley. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings and abundant wildlife by game viewing vehicle, on foot, horseback or mountain bike, in the company of excellent Swazi guides.
Nov-Mar Summer - rainy season with thunderstorms, hottest time of the year
Apr-Oct Winter - dry season, average temperature of 20°C, hot sunny days but chilly nights
The four climatic regions are Highveld, Middleveld, Lowveld and Lubombo plateau. The Highveld temperature is temperate and seldom uncomfortably hot, while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40°C in summer
Capital city: Mbabane (executive), Lobamba (legislative)
Largest city: Mbabane
Currency: Swazi lilangeni, South African rand
Languages: Swazi, English
Size: 17,364 sq km (6,705 sq mi)
Population: 1,343,098 (estimate 2016)
Health & Safety
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The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for Swaziland: hepatitis A and typhoid. Check with your doctor which other vaccinations you might need and make sure your routine vaccinations are all up-to-date.
Malaria is a risk in the eastern regions so talk to your doctor about the best prophylaxis to take.
Medical facilities are generally poor and in serious cases a transfer to South Africa is necessary. Ensure you have good travel insurance.
Security checks from border forces and the local police aren’t uncommon, especially for tourists. Remain patient so the checks are completed quickly and without problems.
Arriving in Swaziland
The main airport is King Mswati III International Airport. The only airline that flies in/out is Swaziland Airlink from Johannesburg. There are daily flights which take about 45 mins.
Many travellers arrive into Swaziland overland at one of the 13 Swaziland-South Africa border posts.
For car rentals, it can be be cheaper to hire a car in South Africa and drive it over the border (you need a letter, which costs about R500, from the rental company to cross the border)
There is a good road network, most major roads are tarred and most unpaved roads are in a reasonably good condition. Be aware on unpaved and steep roads after heavy rains and look out for speeding minibuses and wandering cattle.
Tourist visas are not required for citizens of most Commonwealth countries, the USA, Japan, most EU countries, some others. Check visa requirements here >>