Swaziland at a glance.

We visited Swaziland during a 3 months road-trip through southern Africa 
(Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho). 

Average exchange rate: 1 € =  14,10 Emalangeni (1:1 with SA Rands)


For us, the visit around Swaziland was a good stop to relax and meet travellers
Nothing very special to see in this small country, compared with South Africa. But good accommodation, nice and cool people, a calm country.

We recommend the camp in Hlane, it´s great to see the wild animals around the waterhole.
And then relax in a camp or lodge, do  a BBQ, drink, enjoy, cool down in th pool, relax and talk with other travellers. In the Ezulwini Valley you will find most of the acommodation, from huge luxury resorts to simple backpackers.


 
   VISA AND BORDERS   

Spanish passport (and most of UE) don´t need a visa, just get a 30 days stamp at the border.
Swaziland has border posts with South Africa and Mozambique. Check online the opening times as they are not open 24 hours, if travelling at night.

Border car tax is 50 R (4 €), no other papers needed even with a rental car.

Information: www.swazihighcom.co.za


   ROADS AND DRIVING IN SWAZILAND   

Swaziland is small and the main roads are tarred and fine.
Some roads have potholes so drive carefully.
Inside the parks, there are gravel roads and just the main ones are fine for a sedan car (but the parks a really small).
There´s a highway between Manzini and Mbabane (and we saw works heading east to Siteki). No toll.
Most of the international crossing are tarred but some aren´t (example Pongola-Onverwacht  or Pigg´s Peak to Bulembu-Josefdal). Try to ask first. Usually not open 24 hours but just from 7:00 to 22:00 for the main ones.
Always keep left. In Swaziland, it´s like in South Africa and UK, the driver seats right in the car.

Renting a car in Swaziland:
If you want to travel by car, renting one, it´s better, more options and cheaper to rent it South Africa. Nelspruit and Kruger airport are the nearest places to do it.
No special papers are needed to cross the border between SA and Swaziland, even with a rental car.Just paying the border tax (4 €).
The price of petrol is cheaper in Swaziland than in South Africa. Unleaded is 12.20 R/l.

   TRANSPORTS IN SWAZILAND   

Many buses, minibuses, taxis all over the country. Cheap, the distances are small.Convenient for the traveller.
Also international, coaches and vans going to South Africa (mainly Johannesburg, Durban) and Mozambique (Maputo).


   CHEAP ACCOMODATION IN SWAZILAND   

Swaziland has many accommodation options, something to suit to everybody, and good quality/price.
Most of the accommodation is around Ezulwini Valley (but the country is small enough to base yourself here, specially if you have a car, and tour around the country) and a few options in other places.
There are also a couple of backpackers at the Ezulwini Valley, so it´s the perfect base.

Price for a dorm is around 150 R/pp or more in average (12 €).

The quality of the backpackers and camps is good. Usually they have hot shower, toilet paper, kitchen (not always in camps), BBQ, even pool.
Most of the owners are white south africans doing business in Swaziland.

Camping in Swaziland:

Like in other countries in Southern Africa, camping is the cheapest option for accommodation. Most of the cheap lodges and parks camps offer a campsite. 

Price for camping is around 80 R/pp in average (6 €), half price of dorm.

Couchsurfing in Swaziland:
There´s only a very small community in Swaziland. 
Maybe possible to find a host in Manzini or Mbabane, but these cities are not very special places to stop otherwise.


   MONEY IN SWAZILAND  

The Swaziland currency is Emalangeni, but nobody uses that long and strange name.They just say Rand.

Rand or Emalangeni, the two currencies are 1:1. 

So if not staying long in Swaziland, it´s just better to use South Africa Rands. Just the SA rands coins are not accepted in Swaziland.
Many ATMs in towns and shopping malls. Also possible to pay with card, but not maybe in remote or small places (not all the petrol stations do), so better carry same cash too.
No extra charge for foreign cards. Good exchange rate, no extra commissions, good withdraw limit.


   TELECOMS IN SWAZILAND  

We did not buy a SIM card but we saw many small shops selling MTN (like in SA). Cheap price, like in South Africa.


   FOOD & DRINKS IN SWAZILAND  

There are big supermarkets, South African brands, only in the big cities. Good, clean, you find everything. Also “take away” section.
In the main rural villages and on the sides of the roads, there a small supermarkets and shops.
Big shopping malls in Mbabane, Manzini and Ezulwini.

Not many restaurants, outside the big towns, the shopping malls and the lodges.

We cooked at the lodges, kitchen and bbq facilities.
The price of beers is similar in Swaziland and South Africa, around 9 R for 33 cl. Avalaible at the bottle shops.
Water is usually safe to drink in the hills (Ezulwini) and not in places like Hlane. But better ask before.


   NATIONAL PARKS IN SWAZILAND  

Swaziland is a small country and so are its 3 game parks (also many private game farms): 
  • Hlane Royal National Park
  • Mlilwane Wildlife Santuary 
  • Mkhaya Game Reserve (this last one, only by tour, no self-drive, and the tour is expensive, more than 2.000 R/pp).
The price is cheap, 40 R/pp. And the good thing is that the entrance is also included with the South Africa Wild Card.
Check:

Hlane camping
www.biggameparks.org


Hlane is really small, even if the name “Royal” suggests much more. 
It´s more a quiet camp than a park, with a waterhole with good rhino spotting (we saw more than 20, and also hippos and crocs, busy waterhole).
Mlilwane is a recreational reserve, tree plantations, and only a few animals (not big game, just antelopes, zebras, etc.).
Complete information about these two places on the other chapters, day by day text (right sidebar menu).

We did not go to Mkhaya.Expensive and only tours.

   WEATHER IN SWAZILAND   

It´s a tropical and hot country, but depending of altitude, hills or flat place, it can be cooler or hotter. For example, Ezulwini and its green hills is quite fine.
Rainy season is between December and April.
We visited mid of December and had sunny days and thunderstorms in the afternoon and night.


   LANGUAGES - COMMUNICATION IN SWAZILAND   

English is widely spoken. So no problem.
Most of the local people speak swazi.


   HEALTH IN SWAZILAND   

Most of Swaziland is malaria free zone, just ask the local people. Specially safe on the mountains (west). Take more precautions if going near Mozambique or lower places (west) and more in rainy season.
Lots of repellent at the supermarkets, South African brands, like “Sleep Well” or “Tabard”, quite cheap (around 30 to 50 R).
Water is usually safe to drink. Ask first as some times it cames directly from the rivers.
Supermarkets are modern and clean.
Big AIDS rate…

   ELECTRIC PLUGS   

Special type of plug, like in South Africa, with 3 big round holes. 
You need an adapter if coming from other countries.

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