Formerly known as Swaziland and also written as eSwatini, Eswatini is darling to all those who love trotting the less-explored or those who travel deeper. The country is blessed with the innocence of greenery and the integrity of culture. Though it has remained unexplored for decades, its tourism industry is gearing up at a decent pace today. It houses incredible trekking and hiking trails and has an amazing series of luxuriant hills flavored with exotic wildlife. Visit Eswatini and revel in the charm of the parks, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and more. The country has an equally fascinating culture to look forward to.
USEFUL INFO ABOUT ESWATINI
Official Name: The Kingdom of Eswatini
Form of Government: Unitary Parliamentary Absolute Monarchy
Capital (s): Mbabane (Executive Capital) and Lobamba (Legislative Capital)
Largest City: Mbabane
Population: 1.1 Million (As of 2018)
Official Language: Swazi and English
Languages Spoken: Swazi, English, Zulu, Tsonga, and Afrikaans
Ethnicity: Swazi 84.3%, Zulu 9.9%, Tsonga 2.5%, Indian 0.8%, Pakistani 0.8%, and Portuguese 0.5%
Eswatini Currency: Swazi lilangeni SZL
Map Referred: Africa
Area: 17,364 Sq Km
Lowest Point: Great Usutu River 21 M
Highest Point: Emlembe 1862 M
Coastline: 0 Km
Famous For: Nature | Wildlife | African Culture | Traditional Festivals | Landscapes | Reed Dance Festival
Ethnicity: Swazi 84.3%, Zulu 9.9%, Tsonga 2.5%, Indian 0.8%, Pakistani 0.8% and Portuguese 0.5%
Time Zone: Eswatini (GMT +2)
Driving Side: Left
Airports in Eswatini: King Mswati III International Airport
Country Calling Code: +268 Police: 999 Ambulance: 977 Fire: 933
Swazi lilangeni is the official currency in Eswatini and has been in use since its introduction in the year 1974. However, the South African rand is an equally popular and widely used currency in Eswatini. Swazi lilangeni is issued by the central bank of the country and is used for exchanging all types of goods and services.
Symbol: L and E (plural) Code: SZL 1 Swazi lilangeni = 100 cents Few Eswatini money conversions rates for your reference (As of Sep 2020)
1 AED into Eswatini Currency
1 AED = 4.46 SZL
1 USD into Swaziland Currency
1 USD = 16.40 SZL
Swazi lilangeni banknotes are generally available in the denomination of E10, E20, E50, E100, and E200.
Swazi lilangeni bank coins are generally available in the denomination of 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, L1, E2, and E5.
Eswatini has a history of hundreds of thousands of years as the oldest human activity traced in the region dates back to the Stone Age. This was the time when prehistoric humans dwelled the nation and the presence of ancient rock paintings and other similar arts proves it. The earliest known settlers in Eswatini were Khoisans who were hunter-gatherers and lived in the forests.
Later on, several other tribes thrived in the region and by the early medieval period, Eswatini had become a home to dozens of indigenous and foreign ethnicities. Numerous languages became common tongues. In between the 18th and 19th centuries, Swazi settlers resided by the Pongola River.
During this period, Eswatini grew as a strong political and trade center in southern Africa. However, in the early 20th century following the Second Boer War, the country became a British protectorate. They ruled Swaziland for over 6 centuries until it got complete independence in the year 1968.
Today, Eswatini is an absolute monarchy and is headed by King Mswati III. It is known for its ancient culture and natural beauty. Hence, offbeat travelers visit it and explore its charm from across the globe.
Located in the southern parts of Africa and bordering the beautiful countries of Mozambique and South Africa, Eswatini is an independent nation with an area of about 17,364 sq km. Out of the total land, about 0.9% make up the water region, and the remaining 99.1% forms the land. As it is completely landlocked, it doesn't have a coastline.
However, the country boasts of a dramatic landscape that is mainly characterized by lowlands (sloping plains) as well as high-altitude regions. The highest point and the lowest point in Eswatini are Emlembe Mountain at 1862 m and the Great Usutu River at 21 m.
The country is quite rich in biodiversity as it houses hundreds of rare and endangered species of plants, animals, birds, reptiles, and more. Maouto, Komati, Mbuluzi, Lusushwana, and Mzimnene are certain rivers flowing in the country. However, Eswatini doesn't have natural lakes.
Art and Music
Like other southern parts of Africa, the art and music of Eswatini have evolved over a period of time; however, its authentic beauty is in its traditional instruments and ancient art forms. Pottery and beadworks have been popular occupations in the country for centuries now. Swazi folk compositions have formed the music of Eswatini. However, with the advent of time, the majority of things have changed.
Today, people admire and take a deep interest in foreign artworks too. Singing, dancing and painting have become a part of Swazi culture and lifestyle. Hence, Eswatini hosts dozens of music and arts festival every year.
Food and Drink
Eswatini Cuisine is largely based on staple foods such as maize, sorghum, and goat meat. Though the cuisine has been influenced by the culture and lifestyle of the British who ruled the country for centuries, it is all about seasonal crops today. Rice, peanuts, sugarcane and corn are the major agricultural produces in Eswatini and hence, most of the delicacies prepared here are mainly based on them.
Swazi food has a lot of similarities with other parts of southern Africa when it comes to cookery techniques and kitchen practices. People in Eswatini also love to drink and beer is one of the most consumed beverages here.
Though people in Eswatini are conservative, they are quite receptive to the foreign way of life. In fact, they welcome their country's guests with open arms and come forward to help wherever possible. Some of them even enjoy showing the tourists' around as a part of their hospitality. Hence, you would find it easier to explore Eswatini and its beautiful tourist attractions despite its offbeat vibe.
Come across the hidden wonders of Southern Africa as you move through forests, rolling hills, plains, and beautiful hamlets.
Go on an adventure in the woods of Eswatini and spot rare species of plants, animals, and birds such as white rhinos.
Meet a crowd of cheerful people. Mingle with them and learn about their local lifestyle.
Explore gorgeous hilltop villages and small settlements by lush green valleys.
Witness the greatness of Sibebe Rock, the largest monolithic rock in the world.
Go tramping in the beautiful hills of Eswatini and enjoy camping, picnicking, and more.
Attend a variety of cultural festivals and get an insight into the unknown traditions of Southern Africa.
Photograph stunning valleys, picturesque landscapes, rolling highlands, and other Instagram-worthy spots on your camera.
Spend your vacation away from mainstream tourist destinations and savor nature, history, and culture peacefully.
The climate of Eswatini varies between tropical and temperate. Eswatini temperature ranges between 5℃ and 20℃ during the winters and between 13℃ and 25℃ during the summers.
January is the hottest month in Eswatini with an average maximum temperature of 25℃.
July is the coldest month in Eswatini with an average maximum temperature of 16℃.
December is the wettest month in Eswatini with an average of 92 mm of precipitation.
May to September
Although Eswatini is a year-round destination, the best time to visit Eswatini is from May until the end of September. It is because during this dry period you would be able to spot the best of wildlife. Also, the temperature conditions aren't harsh and quite comfortable to roam around. However, Eswatini has something interesting happening every month.
Visit Eswatini with Family/Kids
Explore the beautiful parks and gardens of Mbabane and other cities in Eswatini.
Take your kids to the outskirts of major cities and let them enjoy nature in its purest form.
Go camping or picnicking in the lush green hills of the country.
Have a great time visiting museums and other art galleries.
Visit Eswatini as a Couple
Stay at a beautiful resort and enjoy luxury in the lap of nature.
Spend your day exploring the hills and parks of Eswatini.
Visit the gorgeous rivers of the country and take beautiful selfies.
Take romantic walks in the spectacular grasslands of Eswatini and savor the best of nature.
Visit Eswatini with Friends
Explore the exotic wildlife of the country and spot white rhinoceros and other rare animals, birds, and plants.
Take a break away from the cities of Eswatini and have a fun time in the remote locations of the country.
Visit museums and historical sites of Eswatini and learn about the bygone era of the country.
Take a look at the greatness of Sibebe Rock, the second-largest monolithic rock on the planet.
What to Buy?
Black Mamba Chili Sauce
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the top tourist attractions in Eswatini, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect place in the country to explore its beautiful wildlife. Blessed with gorgeous valleys and characterized by dramatic landscapes, this wondrous destination would surely satisfy the wildlife lover in you. Come along with your camera and capture some of the most beautiful shots. Average Price: $3 per person Timings: 06:00 am to 06:00 pm
The legislative capital city and one of the prominent Eswatini points of interest, Lobamba is every explorer's go-to place in the country. Visit it and come across an array of traditional houses and confront the most colorful nature. The place in and around Lobamba boasts of hills, hiking trails, trekking routes, camping sites, and a lot more. It also hosts the popular Reed Dance Festival. Price: No Entrance fee Timings: Anytime
Hlane Royal National Park
Another national park that houses some of the most magnificent species of plants, birds, and animals, Hlane Royal National Park is the largest protected park in the country with an area of about 300 sq km. It is here you get to witness the royal lion, elephants, white rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, and other wilderness. Visit it and step into a world of surprises. Average Price: $3 per person Best Timings: 06:00 am to 05:30 pm
If history is something you admire and look forward to on your trips, then you must not miss visiting the National Museum of Eswatini. Preserving age-old traditions and ancient relics, the museum reflects the golden period of Eswatini. It helps you understand how the country has evolved over a period of time and how it has been successful in retaining its traditional values too. Tour Price:
$4.80 for adults
$1.80 for children Best Timings:
08:00 am to 04:30 pm
10:00 am to 04:00 pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
Mantenga Cultural Village
Located in the picture-perfect Ezulwini Valley, Mantenga Cultural Village shares an insight into the greatness of the country's ancient culture and lifestyle. Though the place is equally popular for its natural charm, its traditional setting would steal your heart away. The place is home to some really beautiful waterfalls, grasslands, and hills. Hence, it serves as an amazing mix of history and nature. Average Price: $6 per person Timings: 08:00 am to 05:00 pm
Located in Mbabane, Swazi Market is an ideal place for all the shopaholics and souvenir lovers. It is one of the few places in Eswatini where you can shop for almost everything, ranging from traditional fabrics to handmade items and farm products to jewelry. Visit it and shop colorful carvings or beadworks or baskets for your loved ones. Price: No Entrance Fee Best timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm
Other Important Places to Visit in Eswatini
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Mbuluzi Game Reserve
Reed Dance Festival
One of the most celebrated cultural festivals in Eswatini is the colorful Reed Dance Festival. Attracting a huge crowd, the festival is the backbone of traditional celebrations in the country. This is the day when tens of thousands of Swazi maidens dressed wonderfully offer tall reeds to the queen. Out of them, only two are selected to help decorate the queen's house. The festival lasts for about eight days and is also called Umhlanga Ceremony. Place: Ludzidzini Royal Village Time: August/September
MTN Bushfire Festival
The country's biggest music and arts festival, MTN Bushfire Festival is observed every year with great fervor. Numerous musicians, dancers, singers, theatre artists, and others join the festival to display their talent in front of a crowd of art lovers. Do attend the festival if you would love to see Eswatini celebrate life to its fullest. The festival lasts for about three days Place: Malkerns Time: May
The list of festivities in Eswatini cannot be completed without the Incwala Ceremony. Also known as the First Fruits Festival, the celebration is all about honoring the ritual of kingship in Eswatini. The celebration brings joy all around as it takes place for about a month. This is the time when the King of Eswatini allows his people to feast on the first crops of the year. Place: Across the country Time: December/January
The day when the entire country gets high on happiness is Somhlolo Day, also called Independence Day. The festival commemorates the day when the country attained complete freedom from the rule of the British. It is one of the major public holidays in Eswatini and is celebrated with traditional singing and dancing. People also partake in several ceremonial activities. Place: Across the country Time: 6 September
Other Festivals Celebrated in Eswatini
Simunye Country Fair
To visit Eswatini and explore its wonderful beauty, you need to obtain a valid visa unless you belong to a visa-exempt nation. As per the visa policy of Eswatini, tourists coming from the below-given countries are free to enter Eswatini. If you are a passport holder of any one of these countries, then you can stay within Eswatini for a maximum period of 30 days. The list of these countries includes:
All European Union Citizens, Andorra, Antigua, and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Dominica, East Timor, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Russia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Citizens of all the remaining nationalities need to obtain a regular Eswatini visa to enter the country.
Basic Eswatini Visa Requirements:
A valid passport that doesn't expire within three months from the date of travel
At least two unstamped pages in your passport
Color passport-size photographs
Eswatini Visa Application Form
Evidence of your stay in the country
Yellow Fever Certificate, if coming from the infection-listed areas
Buses are the cheapest and most used means of transportation in Eswatini. Minibuses in the form of shared taxis are used extensively for commutation amongst locals. On average, these buses charge $1-$3 for getting around within a city and $10-$20 for traveling between.
Private Taxis or cabs are the most convenient and comfortable means of transport in the country. However, they are a little expensive in comparison to other transport options. On average, a private taxi in the major cities and towns of Eswatini charges within the range of $5 - $8 per ride.
Though Eswatini has a 301-km long railway line, it doesn't have passenger trains to serve tourists or locals.
Via Air Route
King Mswati III International Airport is the only airport in Eswatini that is connected to places outside the country. However, as of now, the airport has flights only connecting to Johannesburg in South Africa. So, if you are coming from the Middle East or Europe or any other country in the east, then you would need to fly to Johannesburg.
Via Road Route
Eswatini has a decent road network that makes it accessible via car or bus or any other road transport from places like South Africa, Mozambique, and Lesotho. If you are coming from one of these countries, then the road route would also be a great option. Numerous bus services operate between Eswatini, Mozambique, and South Africa on a regular basis.
Via Rail Route
Though Eswatini has a 301-km railway line operating between major cities, it doesn't have any passenger train serving local communities or tourists. Hence, reaching Eswatini via the rail route is not possible as of now. However, there are certain luxury cruise trains in the country that run occasionally.
Via Water Route
Being a landlocked country, Eswatini doesn't have any water route.
Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary is the best place in Eswatini to enjoy the serenity of nature and the rarest of wildlife.
The capital city of Mbabane is the best place in Eswatini for accommodation as it would provide you with all the major facilities.
Research about the place, its weather, and the tourist crowd before leaving.
Always keep hard cash with you as you wouldn't find many places that accept cards.
Mingle with locals or stay with them to learn about the values, culture, and authentic lifestyle of the country.
Use buses while traveling between cities and taxis for getting around within a city to have a comfortable journey.
Keep a local guide with you while exploring out, especially for historical sites, as they have deep knowledge about places.
Keep emergency numbers handy as they would help you a lot while exploring around.
Do not visit unexplored or remote regions of Eswatini without a local guide.
Stay away from the low-lit and dark streets, especially at night.
Petty theft is common in public places in Eswatini. Hence, be alert.
Do not flaunt any kind of valuables at public places.
Keep a check on your bag, food, drinks, and other belongings while in crowded places.
Refrain from getting into unregistered vehicles.
Do not carry original documents with you. Keep them locked inside your hotel room and always take the copies.
Tap water in Eswatini isn't quite safe to consume and hence, you would need to rely on bottled water.
Only eat at places that are popular amongst locals for serving hygienic and healthy food.
Use bug spray or insect repellent while exploring out in the remote regions of the country.
Get the required vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, chickenpox, cholera, mumps, and pneumonia before flying.
Use hand sanitizers at regular intervals or whenever needed.
Get travel insurance before you leave for Eswatini as it would help cover the bills in case of emergencies.
What to Pack?
Light summer clothes
Warm clothes for winters and high-altitude regions
Flip flops and sandals
Dress Code and Etiquette
Dress modestly while visiting places of religious importance such as churches, temples, and mosques.
Refrain from public display of affection as it is often frowned upon in Eswatini.
Do not disrespect local culture, customs, and moral values.
Eswatini people are quite friendly in nature and hence, always greet them with a large smile and a happy face.
A beautiful country dotted with hundreds of natural and historical wonders, South Africa makes for a memorable weekend getaway. There are islands, shores, forests, hills, and so much more to capture here. Take the adventurous route and witness the beautiful species of Kruger National Park. Take a break in the lap of nature at Robben Island or Boulders Beach. Explore the glamor and liveliness of cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
This gorgeous South African country caters to the desires of every kind of explorer for its hosts a wide variety of tourist attractions including some of the best yoga and meditation retreats. The country is blessed with serene beaches, dense wildlife parks, luxurious resorts, and a lot more to admire and enjoy. Explore the scenic destinations of Medjumbe Island, Limpopo National Park, Sao Sebastiao Fort, and Macuti House.
A beautiful tiny nation enclaved within the boundaries of South Africa, Lesotho could also be a great excursion from Eswatini as it has a number of surprises to unfold. Visit it and discover the beauties it hides under the blanket of hypnotism. The must-visit places in Eswatini include Maletsunyane Falls, Kome Caves, Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village, Bokong Nature Reserve, Maluti Mountains, and Mafadi Peak.
Though the country became Eswatini from Swaziland in the year 2018, it has always been Eswatini for locals.
Eswatini is one of the few places in the world with more than two capitals. Mbabane is the executive capital of Eswatini, while Lobamba is the legislative capital.
The father of the present monarch, King Sobhuza II is the longest-reigning monarch in the world as he ruled Eswatini for 82 long years between 1899 and 1982.
Located in Eswatini, Ngwenya Mine has a history of thousands of years as it has been in existence since the Middle Stone Age. Hence, it is considered to be the oldest mine in the world.
Eswatini's MTN Bushfire is an internationally acclaimed art and music festival and is celebrated every year with great passion and enthusiasm.
Eswatini is one of the few places on the planet where one can come across both white and black rhinos.
The mountains located in Malolotja Nature Reserve in Eswatini are believed to be billions of years old.
After Australia's Uluru, Sibebe Rock, also called Bald Rock, Eswatini has the largest monolithic rock in the world.
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