The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small country on the south of Africa. The capital city is Mbabane. Swaziland is a member of the Commonwealth. It borders South Africa and Mozambique.
The Swazi people live in Swaziland. There are also some Europeans, people from Mozambique, and Zulu people. Swati and English are the official languages.
The total population is about 1.4 million people. The majority of the Swazi people are the Christians.
Swaziland is located on the Veld, an open rural landscape which runs into the ocean. On the west, the climate is cool mountain and on the east, the climate is subtropical. The best time for visiting the country is from June to August.
Swaziland is the centre of ecological tourism. In the capital city, about 65.000 people live. Among the main touristic attractions are the University, the city market, and the touristic centre where one can buy excursion tickets.
The city tourism is better developed in Nhlangano where you will find historical sights. There is also an international airport.
There are many national parks in Swaziland. For example, the Milvane Reserve, the Muti-Muti National park, and the Malolotja Nature Reserve close to Mbabane. Picturesque landscapes are ideal for safari. In Swaziland, there are trekking routes and routes for biking and hiking.
In August and December, the travellers can take part in the Umhlanga Festival and see the ritual dances devoted to the Incwala holiday which is held in the historical capital Lobambe.
There are flights to Swaziland from neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique.
The EU and CIS tourists can take a flight to Johannesburg, Durban or Maputo and then take a flight to Nhlangano.
If the travellers have enough time, they can get to Swaziland by international bus or by car. Swaziland has 11 border crossing points with South Africa and 2 with Mozambique.
A journey from Johannesburg to Mbabane will take 4 hours and from Maputo 3 hours.
We recommend crossing the border from Mozambique at Naamacha point.
The CIS and EU tourists do not need a visa to travel to Swaziland. A visa is issued on arrival at the airport and the tourists must provide only a valid international passport. In some cases, return tickets, booking confirmation, and confirmation of financial sufficiency are required.
If you are planning to enter Swaziland through South Africa, you will need to get a double-entry visa of South Africa.
If you get to Swaziland by car, you must provide your driving license, car documents, health insurance, and pay a road toll. Keep the ticket until the end of your journey.
The Customs legislation of Swaziland does not have any limits concerning the import or export of national or foreign currency. It is not necessary to declare the money.
There are general restrictions concerning the import of tobacco, alcohol, and perfume. It is allowed to bring in the gifts and personal belongings, but their total cost must not exceed 5.000 lilangeni.
It is prohibited to import canned meat products.
The tourists can export almost any goods from Swaziland duty-free.
To export the skins of animals, a vet permission is required.
It is not allowed to export any minerals without a permission of the authorities.
The cuisine of the Swazi people is based mainly on fruits and vegetables.
The most famous traditional dishes in Swaziland are the Baba Ganoush, eggplant pate, and Swazi couscous. Couscous is commonly served with mutton and roasted vegetables.
The tourists who have already visited Swaziland recommend Ribeye T-bone (delicate steaks), hot beef tartar and meat roasted over the charcoal.
As Swaziland is away from the ocean, fish and seafood are not the most popular ingredients here. However, in any good restaurant, the tourists can order eel, mussels, and fresh oysters.
The hotels and restaurants will offer a great choice of wines from South Africa and Europe. Swazi liqueur Amarula is known throughout the world.
Those who have a sweet tooth will be a bit disappointed. The main desserts here are fresh fruits and a pomegranate sherbet.
The Swazi people love strong black coffee without sugar.
The national currency is the Lilangeni (SZL). There are the banknotes from 1 to 200 SZL and 1 to 100 cent coins.
The South African random is also accepted in Swaziland. Do not forget to exchange the local currency as you can hardly use lilangeli outside the country. The tourists will have no problems exchanging the currency. There are exchange offices in hotels, at the airport, and even on the streets.
One can cash traveller’s checks at large banks.
Shops and restaurants in Mbabane, Lobambe, and Nhlangano accept credit cards (Master Card and Visa).
The size of tips is from 10 to 15% of the total price on the bill.
It is common to give some money to the porters and hotel maids.
In a taxi, the price is usually rounded up.
Details of interest
De facto, Swaziland is an enclave of South Africa and Swaziland has close connections with it. The living standards in Swaziland are extremely low. Over than half of the population earn 1-2 US dollars per day. The criminal level is very high and it is getting worth every year.
Sightseeing in Swaziland
To the north-west from Mbabane, there is a UNESCO site – the Ngwenya Mine. The production of hematite ore started at the Stone Age.
In the last century, people produce red ochre and used it for their rituals and for cosmetic purposes. They also used it for Rock art.
The major cultural event in the Kingdom is the Umhlanga Cane Fest. We strongly recommend you visiting it and see how the king of Swaziland chooses one more wife for himself. The final part of the ceremony is the dance of thousand of virgins.
In December, the Incwala Festival takes place in Swaziland.
Any time of the year the tourists can enjoy the views in the Malolotja Nature Reserve or visit the Mantenga Heritage Village.
In the Ezulwini Valley, the tourists can relax in the Ezulwini Valley Hot Mineral Springs. At the very heart of the valley in Lobambe, there is the Royals’ Embo State Palace, the Swaziland National Museum, and the King Sobhuza Museum.
In the Milvane Reserve, the tourists can have a horse-back riding, go mountain biking, and watch warthogs, giraffes, antelopes, and hippopotami.
The extreme tourists can go rafting on the Usutu River to the Bulungu Gorge.
Souvenirs in Swaziland
To buy souvenirs and gifts go to the central market in Mbabane on the Allister Miller Street. In addition to traditional African figurines and ritual masks, you can buy a national costume of a virgin or glass crafts produced at the Ngwenya Glass Factory.
The figurines and tableware from green glass are so popular that they are exported to Pretoria and Johannesburg.