Eswatini Safari Tours & Holidays
Eswatini, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini, sometimes written in English as Eswatini, and formerly and still commonly known in English as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south.
Swaziland is a very special place when it comes to wildlife safaris. Africa has many safari destinations, but few that offer the intimacy of game-viewing as in Swaziland. Having escaped the hype of destinations like Kenya and Tanzania, and not subscribing to the upmarket pretentiousness of South African and Botswana safari camps, Swaziland is only under-rated by those that haven’t been here to experience what insiders have known for years: Swaziland is an African safari gem.
There 5 major parks in Swaziland and a host of smaller ones. Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve are the BIG 5, big game highlights. Both parks are managed by the Big Game Parks of Swaziland organization, a private-public partnership that has delivered an outstanding wildlife conservation record over the past almost 50 years.
How to get to Eswatini
There are flights into Eswatini from Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa and Maputo, Mozambique. The only international airport in Swaziland is the new King Mswati III International Airport in Manzini.
The most popular way to travel into Swaziland from South Africa is overland via border crossings. Depending on the season, the border crossings from South Africa to Swaziland can be crowded. The Ngwenya/Oshoek Border Post is the most popular border post — we used this crossing and were lucky enough to find it rather empty. The border crossing took only around 15 minutes in total. Other border posts, such as the one near Amsterdam and Jeppes Reef are a good alternative and easily reachable with normal sedans.
For those without their own car, the Eswatini-based bus company SiyeSwatini TransMagnific provides transport to and from Swaziland daily. Stops include the Johannesburg airport, Nelspruit, and Kruger International Airport on the weekends. The TransMagnific mini-buses are more comfortable than public transport, but you must book at least a day prior to travel.
The South African Baz Bus is an independent line hop-on-and-off targeting backpackers, also makes regular stops via South Africa to various hostels and hotels in Eswatini.
Passport, Visa, and Entry requirements for Eswatini
The borders between South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland are international borders so you need to bring a valid passport. There is a 30- day time period given to tourists to go around the country. If you wish to stay longer, you must go to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Mbabane the capital city of eSwatini to receive an extension. Passports need at least 2 empty pages and are valid for a full month upon entry to eSwatini.
Most of the time you won’t need to have a VISA to get into the country, but there are a few exceptions as some places you do need it, but from South Africa, you don’t. When going through customs, make sure to smile and be nice as the people working has seen so many people and your attitude can lift up their mood. For more information on visas and types of visas, please follow this link to the official government page http://www.gov.sz/index.php/ministries-departments/ministry-of-home-affairs/81-home-affairs/home-affairs/1301-visa
The health sector of Eswatini
Basic healthcare is available in Eswatini, but there are shortages of even common medications. Medical evacuation to South Africa is necessary for serious accidents and emergencies. Local private hospitals can arrange evacuation but only if you are fully insured or you can produce funds in advance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 933, and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Malaria and Yellow fever vaccination for Eswatini
Most travelers to Swaziland will need vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and polio, as well as medications for travelers’ diarrhea. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for travelers to the low veld areas.
Yellow fever: Required for all travelers arriving…Rabies: For travelers spending a lot of time out. Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers
Tetanus-diphtheria: Revaccination recommended.
Currency of Eswatini
The unit of currency in Eswatini is the Lilangeni – plural Emalangeni (E) – which is fixed to the rand (1 Rand = 1 Lilangeni). South African Rands are accepted everywhere and there’s no need to change them. In fact, some outside tourist areas will only accept the South African notes.
Emalangeni are difficult to exchange for other currencies outside Eswatini, so you should reconvert before you leave. If you are leaving through the airport you could use your last E50 for the compulsory departure tax.
Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops but not for the purchase of petrol. Most ATMs in Eswatini accept international cards. If you have a Maestro or Cirrus debit card you can use Standard Bank ATMs to withdraw money.
Standard Bank, First National, and Ned bank have branches in all the main centers. Opening hours are generally 8.30 am to 3.30 pm Monday to Friday, and until 1 pm on Saturdays.
Official Language of Eswatini
Swazi, a Southern Bantu language, is the national language of Eswatini and is spoken by approximately 95 percent of Swazis. Swazi and English are the country’s two official languages, and proceedings of the Parliament of Eswatini take place in both languages.
Best time to travel to Eswatini
Swaziland’s climate ranges from moderate to subtropical. … Summer in Swaziland falls between October and March, and temperatures at this time of the year are generally pleasantly warm. The hottest climate is to be found within the lowland region, where temperatures can reach a tropical 42°C / 108°F.
The best time to visit Swaziland is during the dry winter months (April to September) which are warm in the day, but cold at night. The summer months (October to March) are hot, with heavy rains.
What to wear in Eswatini
The dress is generally informal. For safaris, “natural” colors should be worn in preference to light/bright colors. In the uplands, especially in the winter (April-September), it can be cold in the evening and sweaters may be needed. It can be very cold in the morning or night safari drives.
What to bring while traveling to Eswatini
- -Something that you will really need is a camera so you can take pictures of all the games in the reserves and all the weird and wonderful places where you will make memories.
- The money will be needed as you are traveling over the border. The currencies in eSwatini (Swaziland) are South African Rand and Swazi Lilangeni.
- Take a basic medical kit and make sure to consult your travel clinic and get something to help in case of traveler’s diarrhea, flu, sore throats. Other medical kit items are pain/headache tablets, personal chronic medication. The Royal Jozani game reserve is in a low-risk malaria area, but Tabard/Peaceful sleep or insect repellent in summer is a must in Africa.
- There is a food restriction at the border in Swaziland. Food restrictions in eSwatini cover dairy products, meat, fruits, vegetables, and plants. The restriction covers the amount of food taken which means that for the self-catering accommodation, you can bring food in but with a limit to ensure it is not for illegal marketing purposes. Taking snacks will be necessary as there are not many places where you can stop for takeaways etc. You will need to take something to keep you busy when you driving around or want to do some work. Good ideas are dried fruit, nuts, and raisins, crisps, water, sandwiches, etc. Please also remember to take the rubbish from snacks with you to throw away at the camp or in the cities.
- Car spares: Spare tyres, make sure you have the car jack in the car, as well as the correct size spanners, are needed.
- Oil, distilled water, and other supplies are available and easier to find in the cities (Manzini and Mbabane), but it is always good to have a small stock in your vehicle anyway.
- Petrol/diesel are available
- Maps will be a great asset as there are different routes to take. There are beautiful scenic routes you can take around Swaziland. Internet data will be accessible in certain areas and should be set on roaming to ensure your GPS is functioning optimally. Roads are of good quality in most areas, but there are some areas with potholes. Game Reserves generally have dirt roads making 4 x 4 a better choice in the vehicle, but not essential.
Car hire and driving in Eswatini
Being the smallest country in Africa you can get through Swaziland anywhere by road in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Accommodation in Eswatini
Most tourist attractions have accommodation facilities and being a small country you can drive from one place to the other so accommodation is not a problem while traveling in Eswatini
Local food of Eswatini
The Eswatini diet is based on tinhlavu (grains) and tibhidvo (vegetables). Inyama (meat) dishes are reserved for special occasions when dishes such as goat stew, roast leg of goat, or stuffed or roast free-range chicken are served. “Mealies,” porridge made of maize or sorghum is the staple.
Tipping while Travelling in Eswatini
About 10% of your restaurant bill and about E5.00 per suitcase for porters. Tips are also appreciated at garages
Further information for Eswatini
Eswatini is a safe country to travel to however travelers must book a tailor-made safari to have the best experience of the tourism activities for more information speak to an Africa travel specialist for your tailor-made safari to Eswatini.
Safety of Eswatini
With limited police in the country, crime is rife in both urban and rural areas. Crime increases during holiday periods. Busy urban areas are particularly dangerous at night, but daytime crime is not uncommon. Even if you are in a crowded area, do not take this as an indication you are safe.
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