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Hiking in the mountains of Mbababe
Mbabane
Hiking in the mountains of Mbababe

Mbabane

Hiking in the mountains of Mbababe

Eswatini flag

Eswatini Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Mbabane (administrative capital); Lobamba (royal and legislative capital)

Location:

Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Currency:

Swazi lilangeni (SZL)

Area:

17,364 sq km

Population:

1,113,276 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

English (official, used for government business), siSwati (official)

Religion:

Christian 90% (Zionist - a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship - 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, other 30% - includes Anglican, Methodist, Church of Jesus Christ, Jehovah's Witness), Muslim 2%, other 8% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, indigenous, Jewish) (2015 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Tel Code:

+268

Things to Do

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a small landlocked country located in Southern Africa. Despite its size, it is home to a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and a range of unique activities and experiences for visitors. If you're planning a trip to Eswatini, here are the top 10 things to do during your stay.

1. Explore Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Eswatini's most popular attractions. It offers visitors the chance to see a range of wildlife up close, including zebras, giraffes, and antelopes. The park also has a variety of hiking trails and horseback riding excursions available.

2. Visit the Swazi Cultural Village

The Swazi Cultural Village is a living museum that offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the traditional way of life in Eswatini. You can watch demonstrations of crafts like pottery and weaving, listen to traditional music, and even sample local cuisine.

3. Hike in Malolotja Nature Reserve

Malolotja Nature Reserve is a stunning protected area in Eswatini. It is home to a variety of wildlife and offers some of the best hiking trails in the country. Hikers can explore waterfalls, caves, and stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

4. Visit the Mantenga Cultural Village

The Mantenga Cultural Village is another living museum that offers a glimpse into traditional Swazi life. Visitors can watch demonstrations of traditional dances and participate in workshops to learn about local crafts like candle-making.

5. Go on a safari in Hlane Royal National Park

Hlane Royal National Park is a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Visitors can embark on a guided safari to see big game like lions, elephants, and rhinos in their natural habitat.

6. Tour the Ngwenya Glass Factory

The Ngwenya Glass Factory is a must-visit for those interested in local crafts. The factory produces handmade glassware using traditional methods, and visitors can watch the artisans at work and purchase their own pieces to take home.

7. Relax at the Eswatini Hot Springs

Eswatini is home to a number of natural hot springs, including the popular ones in the Ezulwini Valley. These hot springs offer a relaxing way to unwind and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

8. Visit the Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve

Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve is a stunning natural area that offers visitors the chance to hike, birdwatch, and take in breathtaking views of the Phophonyane Falls and the surrounding landscape.

9. Explore the Nsangwini Rock Shelter

The Nsangwini Rock Shelter is an important cultural site in Eswatini. It features rock paintings that are believed to date back over 5,000 years, making it an important piece of the country's history.

10. Take a scenic drive along the Sibebe Rock

The Sibebe Rock is the largest exposed granite pluton in the world, and a scenic drive around its base offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also hike to the top of the rock for an even more breathtaking panorama.

Weather

Eswatini has a subtropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The best time to visit depends on your preferred activities and interests, but generally, the dry season is the most popular time to visit.

Climate

Eswatini has a warm, temperate climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season runs from November to March and is characterized by high humidity, rainfall, and thunderstorms. The dry season runs from April to October and is generally cooler and less humid.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Eswatini depends on your interests and preferred activities. If you're interested in wildlife viewing, the dry season is the best time to visit as animals are more easily spotted around water sources. The dry season is also a good time for hiking and outdoor activities, as the weather is cooler and less humid. However, if you're interested in birdwatching, the wet season is the best time to visit as many species of birds migrate to the area during this time. Additionally, the wet season is a good time to see the countryside at its greenest and most lush.

Overall, the best time to visit Eswatini is during the dry season, from April to October, as it offers the most comfortable weather for a variety of outdoor activities. However, visitors should be prepared for cooler temperatures at night, especially in the mountains.

Visas

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Eswatini Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Accommodation

      Hotels

      Eswatini has a number of hotels that cater to different budgets and tastes. Many of these hotels are located in the capital city of Mbabane and other major towns. They offer amenities like air conditioning, swimming pools, restaurants, and bars.

      Lodges

      Lodges in Eswatini offer a more rustic and natural experience. Many are located in wildlife reserves and national parks, offering guests the chance to see wildlife up close. Lodges range from basic campsites to luxurious lodges with amenities like private pools and game drives.

      Campsites

      Camping is a popular way to experience the natural beauty of Eswatini. The country has several campsites that offer basic facilities like showers and toilets. Some campsites also offer amenities like electricity and barbecue facilities.

      Guesthouses

      Guesthouses are a popular option for those looking for a more local and authentic experience. They are typically family-run and offer a more personal and homely atmosphere. Many guesthouses are located in rural areas, offering guests the chance to experience local culture and customs.

      Homestays

      Homestays are similar to guesthouses, but offer an even more intimate and immersive experience. Visitors stay with a local family and are welcomed as part of the family. This is a great way to experience local customs and traditions firsthand.

      Transportation

      Public Transportation

      Eswatini has a limited public transportation system, with minibus taxis being the most common form of transport. These are shared taxis that run along set routes, and are often crowded and uncomfortable. However, they are a cheap and convenient way to get around the country.

      Private Taxis

      Private taxis are available in Eswatini, and are a more comfortable and convenient option than minibus taxis. They can be hailed on the street or booked through a hotel or guesthouse. Private taxis are more expensive than minibus taxis, but offer a more personalized and comfortable experience.

      Car Rentals

      Car rentals are a popular way to get around Eswatini, especially for those who want the freedom to explore at their own pace. Several car rental companies operate in the country, and visitors can choose from a range of vehicles. It's important to note that driving in Eswatini can be challenging, especially for those not used to driving on the left side of the road.

      Guided Tours

      Guided tours are a great way to explore Eswatini, especially for those who want to learn more about the country's culture, history, and wildlife. Several tour operators offer guided tours that cover a variety of interests, from wildlife safaris to cultural tours. Guided tours can be arranged through hotels or guesthouses, or booked directly with a tour operator.

      Money

      Money Tips for Travel

      • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
      • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
      • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
      • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
      • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
      • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
      • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
      • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
      • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
      • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

      ATM and Credit Cards

      • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
      • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
      • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
      • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
      • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
      • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

      Exchange Rates

      • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
      • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
      • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
      • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
      • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

      Insurance

      Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

      Medical Coverage

      Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

      Trip Cancellation and Interruption

      Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

      Lost or Stolen Luggage

      Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

      Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

      Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

      Liability coverage

      Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

      Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

      Mobile

      When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

      eSIM

      Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

      Dual SIM phone

      If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

      Extend your home plan

      Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

      Keep your primary SIM

      With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

      Community

      There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

      Facebook groups

      There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

      Meetup

      Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

      Internations

      Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

      Couchsurfing

      Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

      Reddit

      Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

      Linkedin

      LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

      At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

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