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eSwatini Travel Guide: Explore the Kingdom’s Rich Culture and Natural Wonders

Welcome to eSwatini, a hidden gem in Southern Africa waiting to be discovered! You also might know this country as Swaziland. In this eSwatini travel guide, I’ll be showing you how to enter the country and giving you reasons to visit it next time you’re in South Africa! Skip the Kruger crowds and come here instead. Or combine both!

Why is eSwatini attractive to tourists?

– Cultural Richness: Go deep into the vibrant traditions of the Swazi people. From colorful festivals like the Umhlanga Reed Dance to the captivating rituals of the Incwala ceremony, eSwatini offers a rare glimpse into Africa’s cultural heritage.

– Breathtaking Scenery: Nature enthusiasts will fall in love with eSwatini’s diverse landscapes, from lush valleys and rolling hills to majestic mountains and wildlife reserves. Hike through the scenic Malolotja Nature Reserve or go on a safari in Hlane Royal National Park.

– Adventure Opportunities: Thought you’d be bored? Think again. Go white-water rafting on the Great Usutu River, zip line through the treetops at Malolotja Canopy Tour, or explore the caves of the Ngwenya Mine.

Should I go to eSwatini?

Absolutely! Whether you’re seeking cultural immersion, outdoor adventures, or to stay away from those crowds I mentioned before, eSwatini is one of the few monarchies left in the African continent, which makes it a very unique country to visit.

What do you need to enter eSwatini?

Before embarking on your journey to eSwatini, ensure you have the following:

  • Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in eSwatini.
  • Visa: Most visitors do not require a visa for short stays (up to 30 days), but it’s important to check visa requirements based on your nationality.
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination: If you’re traveling from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, you may need to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate upon entry.
These are things you should have anyway when entering a new country
  • Proof of Accommodation: Have documentation confirming your accommodation arrangements during your stay in eSwatini.
  • Sufficient Funds: Be prepared to show proof of adequate funds to cover your expenses during your visit.

Please do not forget that these might depend entirely on your nationality. As strong passport holders, we did have to fill out a form when we entered the country, and we had made a reservation beforehand at a local Backpackers lodge.

eSwatini travel guide
Spotting wild life right at our accommodation
How to enter eSwatini from South Africa?

If you’re traveling by car, make sure you’ve paid extra to have all of the necessary permits to enter neighboring countries. This is very common for those overlanding South Africa but you do have to let your car rental know in advance. The two most common border posts are Oshoek/Ngwenya Border Post and Golela Border Post. If you use the Oshoek/Ngwenya crossing, make sure to stop at the Alzu gas station! Not only is it extremely modern, but it is by far the coolest gas station I’ve ever been to. No spoilers!

If you’re traveling without a car, you have two options. You can catch a local bus from the bus rank in Johannesburg to Mbabane. This will not cost more than 400 Rand one-way. We personally did not feel very safe in Joburg and opted for the private shuttle. This can be booked through Transmagnific. It’s 750 ZAR one-way and it has pickups at the Joburg airport too. You can be dropped off in several parts of the country – we chose Lobamba since it was closest to our accommodation and then took a taxi from there.

What to do in eSwatini?

Since it’s such a small country (it can be easily crossed from border to border in less than 4 hours!), I just want to give a quick list of 5 things I’d recommend doing if you’re going to the country.

  • Stay at a wildlife lodge: you can either stay at a 5* safari lodge or even at a backpackers lodge which is what we did! We were at the Sondzela Backpackers which was inside the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary for only $30 USD per night for the two of us! This is the country’s oldest protected area.
  • Hike up Sibebe Rock: Challenge yourself with a hike up Sibebe Rock, one of the largest granite rock formations in the world. Marvel at breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and stop by the Sibebe Lodge for some local food, have a swim at the pool, or even take advantage of one of the local shows. This is all free.
eSwatini travel guide
At Sibebe
  • View Rhinos in Hlane Royal National Park: this spot has the largest population of white rhinos, which happen to be close to extinction. You can also see the big 5 here for very affordable prices compared to some of the neighboring countries.
  • Visit Mantenga Cultural Village: Immerse yourself in Swazi culture by exploring Mantenga Cultural Village. Witness traditional Swazi dances, learn about tribal customs, and interact with locals to gain insights into their way of life. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Mantenga Falls, a beautiful waterfall located in the surrounding hills.
  • Visit Ezulwini Valley: Discover the scenic beauty of Ezulwini Valley, known as the “Valley of Heaven.” Explore craft markets, art galleries, and cultural centers showcasing Swazi heritage. Visit the iconic King Sobhuza II Memorial Park, dedicated to the late king of eSwatini, and learn about the kingdom’s history and monarchy.
Take a detour and make sure to visit eswatini!

These five activities offer just a glimpse of the diverse experiences awaiting you in eSwatini. It’s a small country, but one you can easily spend 3 days in. Whether you’re exploring its cultural heritage, encountering wildlife in its natural habitat, or embracing the beauty of its landscapes, you should check out eSwatini, especially if you’re in Joburg! If you have a bit more time, make sure to go to Lesotho, too! One of our favorite countries from the overlanding by bus trip we did.

a woman posing in the water

Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel, scholarships, study/work and living abroad opportunities.  I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer. 

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