A tiny, mountainous kingdom, Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies on earth, a place where it’s still possible to see warriors carrying animal-hide shields and princesses bedecked with beads and feathers. Home to some of the friendliest people in Africa, they are justifiably proud of their small, beautiful country. Known for its excellent handicrafts, Swaziland is also a soft adventure hub, with world-class hiking, superb mountain-biking, exhilarating rafting and a canopy zip line worth the trip alone.
EZULWINI VALLEY & LOBAMBAEZULWINI VALLEY & LOBAMBA
The traditional residence of Swaziland’s royal family, the Ezulwini Valley offers a range of accommodation and tourism facilities. Home of the Parliament and National Museum, it also boasts excellent local craft stalls and championship golf.
HIGHVELD & MIDDLEVELDHIGHVELD & MIDDLEVELD
Swaziland’s Highveld is its crowning glory, home to Malolotja Nature Reserve offering some of the best wilderness hiking in Southern Africa and an exhilarating canopy zipline tour. Phophonyane Falls runs a close second: a nature-lover’s paradise.
The Lubombo region of lowveld bushland takes its name from the impressive mountain range forming a natural border with Mozambique. Swaziland’s best wildlife is found here at Mlawula, Mbuluzi, Royal Hlane and Mkhaya reserves.
MALKERNS VALLEYMALKERNS VALLEY
A lush patchwork of sugarcane and pineapple farms framed by mountains, the Malkerns valley is Swaziland’s cultural heart. With handicrafts, rafting and horse-back safaris on offer, this sleepy town also hosts the fabulous Bushfire music festival.
MANZINI AND MBABANEMANZINI AND MBABANE
Swaziland’s two largest cities, Mbabane and Manzini serve as useful commercial hubs but are not worth a stay in their own right. Mbabane is blessed with a dramatically beautiful mountain setting and both have interesting local markets.
Browse through our suggested itineraries for inspiration. These are just a starting point for your plans - remember that all our itineries are tailor-made to your specifications.
Swaziland AdventurerThis 8 night self-drive itinerary suggestion showcases the best of Swaziland for those with an adventurous spirit. Hike the Gobolondo Mountain Ridge trail at Phophonyane Falls with amazing views over the Makhonjwa Mountains and glide through the forest canopy in Malolotja Nature Reserve. Explore the craft markets and cultural scene in the friendly Malkerns Valley and test your nerve with a white water trip on the wild Usutu River. End at Mkhaya National Park in...
Planning your trip
Quick country facts
- Recommended airlines
(up to 20 words) BA or South African Airways via Johannesburg then 1 hr South African Airlines flight to King Mswati III Airport or 4.5 hour road journey over the border.
- Flight time
Around 14 -16 hours depending on the length of connection.
- Time zone:
- Visa requirements:
No visa required for 30 day stay (UK passport)
Tiny Swaziland is landlocked by its neighbours South Africa and Mozambique, so most routes in come via one or the other point.
Swaziland’s one airport offers three flights per day, all to/from Johannesburg, with no direct options coming from anywhere else. Direct flights to Johannesburg take around 11-12 hours from London. Recently moved at huge expense to a new location, Swaziland’s airport is now over 70km from any major towns, so it is sometimes more cost and time-effective to drive to Swaziland from South Africa or Mozambique rather than flying in. The journey from Johannesburg airport to the Ezulwini Valley is a pleasant and a times very scenic drive of around 4.5 hours.
Car hire is highly recommended for travel around Swaziland; car hire companies in South Africa will issue a cross-border permit for a small fee, or cars can be hired at the airport on arrival. A new and well-maintained highway now runs right through the middle of the country from the border with South Africa to the border with Mozambique, making driving easy. Off the highway the roads are less well-maintained but are still generally good in the main tourist areas. A 4×4 is not necessary for most itineraries. Drink-driving is a problem in Swaziland though, so although the roads are never busy it’s important to keep alert.
Accommodation and costs
Accommodation is generally inexpensive, with a number of simple but pleasant B&Bs and guesthouses alongside one or two international standard hotel complexes and game lodges. Costs are generally very affordable, from fuel to food to entertainment.
How long to stay
Ideally combined with a holiday in South Africa taking in Kruger National Park but also a great addition to a trip to Mozambique, Swaziland is often passed through in a day. We think this is a huge mistake! As a minimum we recommend two nights to experience the Ezulweni and Malkerns Valleys which will serve as an introduction to this country that so many visitors fall in love with. Seven to nine days would be ideal in order to really absorb Swaziland’s laid back vibe and experience some of its superb adventure and game watching activities at Malolotja, Phophanyane Falls and one of the Lowveld game reserves.
The best time to visit Botswana varies depending on what you would like to see. Weather plays a role, as do animal movements, the flood pattern of the Delta and visitor numbers.
If you are visiting primarily for the Delta then June to October will be the best time to go, as this is when the flood waters start making their way through. During these months most Delta camps can offer mokorro (canoe) safaris which is always a highlight of any trip to Botswana. Game becomes concentrated on the islands and islets when the Delta is flooded, whereas once it’s dried out again the animals tend to move to the edges of the Delta to graze, taking their predators with them. It’s winter in Botswana so expect dry, clear days with little to no rain, but chilly mornings and evenings warming up during the day.
- NOT ADVISED