The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland is a relaxed country with an infectious happiness. Despite the simple and traditional lives Swazis lead, the pint-sized nation has good facilities and is easy to travel around. En route you can enjoy wildlife watching, exquisite African crafts at reasonable prices, cultural experiences and comfortable accommodation, making Swaziland worth a stay of at least a few days.
Swaziland is famous for its monarchy, which plays a major role in daily life and traditional ceremonies such as the umhlanga (reed) dance. Between the main centres of Mbabane and Manzini, Ezulwini, or the ‘the Valley of Heaven, is home to the historic royal and political capital, Lobamba. It is also known as ‘the Royal Valley’ because it houses the parliament and several royal buildings, and is a place of many legends in Swazi history.
Also in Ezulwini is Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary – one of a few excellent Swazi reserves, where you can experience the bush and spot animals in a safari vehicle, on foot or by bike. With its friendly inhabitants and authentic feel, Swaziland is a perfect place to slowly travel through the bushveld enjoying an unspoilt piece of Africa.
AIRPORT: King Mswati III International Airport, 40km southeast of Mbabane (near Manzini)
AREA: 17364 km²; 1.5% the size of South Africa, slightly smaller than Fiji
POPULATION: 1.5 million
LANGUAGES: Swati, English
CURRENCY: Lilangeni (plural emalangeni, E), divided into 100 cents. Fixed to the rand, which is accepted throughout Swaziland
- Exploring the bush on foot in Mkhaya Game Reserve, one of Africa’s best spots to see black and white rhinos
- Browsing craft markets in the Ezulwini and Malkerns Valleys, a short drive from Mbabane, either independently or as part of a cultural tour
- Hiking or going on a canopy tour at Malolotja Nature Reserve, a wilderness of mountains, high-altitude grassland, forests and bushveld
- Traditional Swazi ceremonies and festivals, especially the umhlanga (reed) dance, in which Swazi maidens dance with swaying reeds; and the Incwala harvest celebration
- Horse riding, mountain biking and going on a cultural tour or wildlife drive at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, with its excellent lodges beneath Nyonyane Mounatin
Did you know?
One of the world’s last absolute monarchies, Swaziland takes its name from King Mswati II (or Mswazi), a predecessor of current ruler Mswati III. In the mid-19th century, Mswati II unified the kingdom despite pressure from the neighbouring Zulu.