Eswatini Travel Guide
Eswatini is a new name when looking at the travel destinations of Africa. Formerly known as Swaziland and the smallest landlocked country in the Southern hemisphere, Eswatini changed its name in April 2018 when King Mswati III of Swaziland took the decision to resurrect the countries former name. The capital of Eswatini is Mbabane.
Eswatini has the last monarchy in Africa with both the king and his mother in charge of all that takes place in this country with a rich cultural heritage. The local Swazi people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and you will be unlucky not to witness some local traditional festivals, ceremonies or events while you are visiting. They love to entertain and have become known for a strong arts, crafts and dance industry.
The country enjoys a really diverse mixture of terrains and habitats with forests, plains, mountains and valleys all attracting both wildlife and tourism. One of the Eswatini’s greatest treasures is that its game reserves are home to the big five and there is a strong focus on conservation and the protection of wildlife.
In particular its focus on the protection of the Rhino. The country borders with the Kruger National Park in South Africa and has for itself the Mkhaya Game Reserve where Rhino dominate the many attractions.
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Eswatini on Film
Many may ask where is Eswatini. The country is located in the south of Africa with borders to South Africa and Mozambique with a large number of flights into nearby Johannesburg.
Quite simply the best way to travel within Eswatini is by road with bus tending to be the best options with services between all the main towns.
Whilst you can hire a car for yourself it is not the easiest country to drive around so the advice is to stick to the public bus transport or private tours that can be arranged in advance or in resort.
Top Things To See & Do
Hlane Royal National Park
The Hlane (“Wilderness”) Game Sanctuary is home lion, elephant, and rhino as well as a large bird population including vultures. Activities here include guided mountain biking, cultural visits to a nearby Swazi village, birding walks, and overnight fully-catered bush treks.
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
On the shores of the Mlawula River you can witness a wide selection of animals including giraffe, zebra, kudu, jackal, wildebeest, and nyala during the day and possibly hyena, genets, servals, and honey badgers during the night.
In the beautiful Ezulwini valley (the Valley of Heaven), Lobamba is Swaziland’s spiritual and cultural centre. also home to Swaziland’s monarchy, as well as its most important buildings.
Swazi Market, Mbabane
Mbabane, Swaziland’s cool-climate capital, is home to the Swazi Market for fresh produce, pottery, hand-made baskets, masks, traditional fabrics, soapstone carvings, and beaded jewelry.
A pleasant excursion from Mbabane is a trip up beautiful Pine Valley to the north of the town. The route follows the Umbeluzi River, passing a number of waterfalls. This is great walking and riding country, with agreeable temperatures, even in summer.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
In the lovely Ezulwini Valley, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Swaziland’s first conservation areas and its most popular game reserve. The sanctuary offers plenty of activities including game drives, nature walks, mountain biking, horseback rides, a village cultural experience, and swimming in the rest camp’s pool.
Malolotja Nature Reserve
In northwest Swaziland, the 18,000-hectare Malolotja Nature Reserve is the largest protected area in the country. With waterfalls, wetlands, forest this makes for excellent hiking trails to spot wildlife and fauna.
Mlawula Nature Reserve
Landscapes here range from dry savannah to rolling green valleys and dense riverine forests, with mountains rising south to north along the Mozambique border. Due to the contrasting ecological zones, wildlife is varied and includes 60 species of small and large animals such as wildebeest, kudu, impala, and tortoises, as well as 350 species of birds, many insects, and an impressive array of plants.
In the picturesque Ezulwini Valley, Mantenga Nature Reserve offers a fun taste of Swazi nature and culture. A highlight of the reserve is the stunning Mantenga Falls,
Set in beautiful gardens, the small and modest National Museum in Lobamba hosts fascinating exhibits on the history, culture, and nature of Swaziland.
Mkhaya Game Reserve
About a 40-minute drive south of Hlane Royal National Park, Mkhaya Game Reserve was established to protect endangered species, including white and black rhino. The park also protects buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, and many birds.
Shewula Mountain Camp
Swaziland’s first ecotourism project, opened in 2000. Top choices include guided cultural visits to the local village, where you can interact with residents and learn about their daily life. There is also a chance to meet with a Swazi traditional healer known as a Sangoma. Other choices include catching a dance performance, going mountain biking, or hiking down to the Mbuluzi River and gorge.