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 decided to resurrect the country’s 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 their strong arts, crafts, and dance industry.
The country enjoys a diverse mixture of terrains and habitats with forests, plains, mountains, and valleys all attracting both wildlife and tourism. One of 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, it focuses on the protection of the Rhino. The country borders the Kruger National Park in South Africa and has itself the Mkhaya Game Reserve.
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|Tourist Office||Eswatini Tourist Board|
Getting Around in Eswatini
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 option 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 resort.
Places To Stay in Eswatini (Swaziland)
Parks & Game Reserves
Hlane Royal National Park
The Hlane (“Wilderness”) Game Sanctuary is a home for lions, elephants, and rhinos 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.
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 rhinos. The park also protects buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, and many birds.
Malolotja Nature Reserve
In northwest Swaziland, the 18,000-hectare Malolotja Nature Reserve is the largest protected area in the country. With waterfalls, wetlands, and forests 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 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,
Top Things To See & Do
In the beautiful Ezulwini Valley (the Valley of Heaven), Lobamba is Swaziland’s spiritual and cultural center. 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 several waterfalls. This is great walking and riding country, with agreeable temperatures, even in summer.
Set in beautiful gardens, the small and modest National Museum in Lobamba hosts fascinating exhibits on the history, culture, and nature of Swaziland.
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.
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.
Pre-Bookable Excursions in Eswatini
The Eswatini Tourist Board provides a wide choice of useful information including places to go, things to do and what you can expect from the weather.
Why not check out my guest blog from Caroline Joyner – Eswatini – King Of The Conservationists