Swaziland, officially known as Eswatini, may be the smallest country in Africa, measuring no more than 200 km north to south and 130 km east to west, but it has so much to offer its visitors. It has the wildlife, the adrenalin-boosting activities, the rich cultural heritage, a wonderfully varied landscape that allows for fantastic hiking and more than anything… a return to a slower pace. Swaziland is a place where everything remains small, relaxed and personable.

Lead by King Mswati III, Swaziland is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, and the king rules by decree over his million plus subjects. Most Swazi people live in community homesteads, outside the cities, farming sugarcane, maize, cotton, rice, citrus, cattle and goats. For the most part, they follow traditional ways and it’s the monarchy that binds the nation together with festivals and celebration. Tens of thousands gather at various times of the year to celebrate in colourful, traditional costumes and in spectacular style.

We at Ikewana will be delighted to offer you the best Swaziland has to offer. It’s a glorious destination in its own right and merits at least a week if you want to do the country any justice. Let us help you create the perfect itinerary for you.

Eswatini's Climate

The climate ranges from moderate to subtropical and the weather depends a great deal on which part of the country you intend to visit. Lowland areas tend to feel subtropical. At higher altitudes, in the Highveld regions, you can expect more in the way of clouds and mist, as well as cooler temperatures. Summer 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.

In Mbabane, in the Highveld, average summer temperatures are around 20°C / 68°F. This is the time when you’re most likely to experience rain and thunderstorms, especially in the more mountainous regions. Of note, the lowveld areas tend to be drier. During the winter, which runs from April to September, temperatures can fall as low as -3°C / 27°F. In Mbabane, average winter temperatures are a mild 12°C / 54°F, whilst visiting during the winter months means that you avoid most of the rain (this is the driest time of year), although the cooler temperatures do require careful packing, particularly of warmer clothing for the evenings.

  • A playground for adventure-seekers Go zip-lining through the pristine mountain wilderness of the Malolotja Nature Reserve. To appreciate the abundant game, bird life and lush forest canopy there is a choice of eleven elevated forest platforms, ten slides and a 50 metre long suspension bridge over the Majolomba River.
  • Swazi Candles as unique souvenirs Go shopping at Malkerns Valley or the Ezulwini Valley for the beautifully intricate designs of Swazi Candles which have been crafted using the ancient technique of "millifiore" (or “thousand flowers”).
  • Best encounters with rhinos in Africa Enjoy unforgettable experiences tracking Swaziland's healthy population of black and white rhinos.
  • Horseback-riding at leisure Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary offers horseback safaris without the threat of lions and other dangerous beasts.
  • Cultural delights Witness the Umhlanga (Reed Dance) and Incwala traditional ceremonies that involve tens of thousands of Swazis, dressed in traditional attire.

    Hiking Enjoy up to 10 self-guided hikes in the private Mlawula Nature Reserve.
  • Birds of a feather Swaziland boasts around 500 bird species including 21% of the most sought after Southern African birds. It is also one of the only breeding sites for the blue swallow, one of Africa’s rarest breeding birds.
  • Capital: Mbabane (administrative capital) and Lobamba (legislative and royal capital).
  • Language: English and Swati (or siSwati).
  • Currency: Swaziland's currency is the Swazi lilangeni (plural emalangeni, "E") which is divided into 100 cents. It is fixed at a value equal to the South African Rand (ZAR). Rands are accepted everywhere, though you will invariably be given emalangeni in change.
  • Electricity: In Swaziland, the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Swaziland, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V (as is the case in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).
  • Getting Around: Driving into Swaziland is relatively easy, provided you drive sensibly and avoid the potholes, ramshackle settlements, pedestrians and wandering livestock found on many of the roads leading into the country. Access into Swaziland from Johannesburg can be made by road and a fee will be charged upon entry – this can be paid in Rands (ZAR). Certain documentation is required by the South African authorities to enter Swaziland, and in the case of rented vehicles, you will need to show a valid passport, a valid driver's licence and a letter from the car hire company. Swaziland has a good road network and most major routes are tarred. Most unpaved roads are in reasonably good condition, except after heavy rains. Keep to 60 km/h in towns, 80 km/h on open roads and 120 km/h on most major highways. If an official or royal motorcade approaches, you’re required to pull over and stop.
  • Airports: Reaching Swaziland by air at present is only possible from Johannesburg, flying to King Mswati III International airport on Airlink. The country is dwarfed by its giant neighbour, South Africa, but with Mbabane being only a few hours from Johannesburg, it does benefit from the good access into that international hub. Flights to Swaziland from Johannesburg are currently provided solely by Swaziland Airlink, taking around 45 minutes. Flights depart two or three times daily. British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic all operate two or three daily non-stop flights from London to Johannesburg. Airlines such as Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates also provide flights to Johannesburg but will usually make a stop in Africa, Europe or the Middle East (depending on where you fly from).
  • Area: The total land area in Swaziland is 17 200 km2 (6 641 sq. miles). It is a landlocked country in southern Africa between Mozambique to the northeast and South Africa to the southeast. Swaziland's altitude determines different areas with different climates and environments, and is broken down into 4 areas which are known locally as the Highveld, Middle Veld and the Lowveld, and also the Lebombo Plateau. In the west, the Highveld which is crossed by the Drakensberg Mountains, at an altitude between 800 and 1 800 metres (2 600 and 6 000 ft) has vegetation which consists of forests, rivers and waterfalls. The Middle Veld lies in the centre of the country, between 400 and 800 metres (1 300 and 2 600 feet) above sea level. And finally, the Lowveld which is found in the east, between 200 and 400 metres (650 and 1 300 feet), and is characterised by a landscape dominated by the savanna. In the easternmost area, the altitude increases slightly again, in the Lebombo Mountains, which despite their name, do not reach 800 metres (2 600 feet), so they are more like hills. The entire country is traversed by rivers or streams, making it one of the best-watered areas in southern Africa.
  • When to go: Swaziland is a year-round destination, but if you’re hoping to see wildlife, the best time to go is in the dry winter months of May to September when the animals gather at the waterholes. This period is also outside the cyclone season. Summer (October to April) is hot and wet, but the scenery is gorgeously green, with full rivers, lush vegetation and abundant birdlife. For a cultural treat look out for the sacred Incwala festival which takes place around the last week of December / first week of January, while the Umhlanga festival is around the last week of August / first week of September.

    What to wear: The general fashion style is relaxed and it is acceptable to go to restaurants in shorts and sandals. Wear light, cool clothes in summer, and in the winter months, it can get fairly cold so something warm that can be removed when it starts to heat up is a good idea. For early morning game drives, it’s always a good idea to wear layers and remove them as the sun comes out.
  • Mkhaya Game Reserve The small private game reserve of Mkhaya is located in the southeastern part of the country and is considered “the jewel in Swaziland's wildlife reserve crown”. It covers an area of approximately 7 500 ha. and is home to a variety of big mammals. Originally it was established to preserve the dwindling breed of pure Nguni cattle, but has expanded to include other wildlife at risk, including black and white rhino (for which it is renowned), elephant and sable antelope.

    It is also the home for a colourful profusion of birds, including Melba Finch, African Green Pigeon, Whitebellied Sunbird, Redbilled Oxpecker, Plumcoloured Starling, White Helmetshrike, Brubru, Redbacked Shrike, Scalythroated Honeyguide, Grey Hornbill and Purple Roller, Greyheaded and Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellowbreasted Apalis, Goldentailed Woodpecker, Purplecrested Lourie, Yellowspotted Nicator, Southern Boubou and several varieties of Robin. (Note that children under 10 are not allowed in the park.)
  • Phophonyane Nature Reserve Located in the rugged northwest of Swaziland, lies this peaceful and enchanting park, which is known for its number of magnificent waterfalls, rocky outcrops, woodlands and an array of biodiverse flora and fauna. Included in the wildlife are banded mongooses, the rare red duiker deer, cape clawless otter, vervet monkeys, serval and civet. The undeniable highlight of the reserve is the Phophonyane Falls with a series of impressive cascades and waterfalls.

    Sidebe Rock To the northeast of Mbabane is Sibebe Rock which has earned its place as the world's second-largest monolith, after Australia's Uluru. It is a massive granite pluton dome hulking over the surrounding countryside and reaches some 350 metres (1 148 feet) above the valley of the Mbuluzi River. "Bald Rock" as it is sometimes known due to the absence of trees on it, can be enjoyed with several guided walking trails and for the more adventurous, rock climbing is available.

Destinations in Eswatini