What to Do in Eswatini (Formerly Swaziland), Africa’s Best-Kept Little Secret


There is a saying, “Dynamite comes in small packages”. Eswatini, in a nutshell, personifies this saying. Formerly known as Swaziland, this landlocked nation is bordered on its north and south by South Africa (on the west too) and on the east by Mozambique. One of the last monarchies in existence is precisely Eswatini.

Despite its diminutive size, it is packed with must-do activities, including a safari, of course. Big 5, indeed. Yes, adventure-based activities. Yes, there are vibrant cultural festivals too. As you could have imagined, a private travel adventure.

Eswatini is a travel powerhouse since it contains every geographical element of Africa’s landscape, with the exception of the desert and the sea. It has withstood the urge to modernize, having a strong dedication to conserving the native culture, contrasting most of its African counterparts. The Swazi folks are noted for their laid-back attitude, and their pace of daily living is similarly slower.

Consider Eswatini as your final stop rather than a pit break en route to a famous Kruger National Park in South Africa or Mozambique. The most effective way to do the nation justice is to immerse yourself in it for a week while traveling slowly, which is the newest travel trend.

Where to Head?

Eswatini is split into five main regions, each of which offers a unique experience. Every region has a unique selling point, whether it is breathtaking landscapes or thrilling wildlife encounters. You will be able to fully enjoy that one area if you spend some time there. However, because of the country’s compact size, it is simple to get from one part of the country to the next.

The Cultural Heartbeat of Central Eswatini

The capital city of Lobamba (the legislative capital), the main tourist destination, and the historic Royal Heartland are all located in Central Eswatini, which is the smallest of the three districts.

There are many pleasant locations to visit near here:

  • Ezulwini Valley

The nation’s royal “core” is located here. With its amazing panoramic vistas, it is clear why Ezulwini, which means “place of heaven”, received this name. Attractions in and around the valley include golfing, attending to art galleries, trekking in the hills, and touring the Ezulwini Handicrafts Center.

  • Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

The first protected area in Eswatini is the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, which is situated in Ezulwini Valley. It is tranquil, lovely, and easily accessible. Although it is only 46 square km, it is home to antelope, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs, hippos, and crocodiles. You should visit this if you enjoy being outside. A variety of adventure activities are offered, including horseback riding, biking, and birdwatching.

  • Mantenga Nature Reserve

A great place to experience Eswatini’s natural splendor and rich cultural legacy is the Mantenga Nature Reserve. Native singing and dancing are available to experience when visiting the Mantenga Cultural Village. A Swazi hut settlement from the 1850s may also be visited, where visitors can discover all aspects of the Swazi way of life, including the food and rituals as well as the family structure. After that, you can venture outside and see the lovely Mantenga Waterfall, experience white-water rafting, or go adventure caving.

The Adventure Land of Western Region

The North West region, which is mostly in the highveld, is a stunning place. Emlembe and Ngwenya, two of Eswatini’s highest peaks, are topped by the sweeping hills and striking river basins that make up South Africa Drakensberg mountain range’s eastern edge. Adventure activities abound in this area, so if you are seeking to get your heart beating and blood pumping, come here.

  • Malolotja Nature Reserve

Malolotja Nature Reserve is ruggedly attractive and ideal for hiking thanks to its varied terrain. The focal point is the Komati River, which cuts through a gorge and cascades through rapids and miniature waterfalls. The Big Five are not present here. Nevertheless, zebras, elands, wildebeest, and antelope are likely to be present. There are around 280 species of birds known, so prepare your binoculars. Surprisingly, the oldest mind in the world resides there as well.

  • Phophonyane Nature Reserve

The Phophonyane Nature Reserve is tucked away on a forested slope overlooking the Phophonyane River and waterfall. The reserve is quiet and serene and can be toured on foot, on horseback, by mountain bike, or even by ziplining through the treetops. Despite being peaceful, the trails are home to a variety of animals, including vervet monkeys, red duikers, and mongooses.

Community and Conservation of the North East

The North East is located in the Lowveld, a vast area of flat bushland, as opposed to the North West. The setting is ideal for a safari because the soil is comparable to that found in Kruger National Park. Eswatini’s reserves can be found in this area. Mountains in the area are undeveloped, untamed, and home to isolated communities like Shewula, a beautiful illustration of community tourism.

  • Hlane Royal National Park

You go here to see the top safari dogs because it is the largest national park in the county. Lions, leopards, rhinos, and elephants live in the reserve. Numerous antelope species will also be present. This is yet another excellent location for birdwatching in Eswatini. Mountain biking, guided bird walks, overnight bush hikes, dedicated rhino drives, and cultural tours are among the available activities.

  • Mlawula Nature Reserve

Due to the size of the Mlawula Nature Reserve, both dry savannahs and tropical forests can be found there. It is regarded to be one of the most diverse and certainly the best trekking locations in the nation as a result.

  • Mbuluzi Nature Reserve

This little reserve is characterized by untouched wilderness.  In this area, animals such as hippos, wildebeest, giraffes, and zebras, to name a few, can roam freely across acacia bushveld, open grasslands, and golden savannah, as well as riverine forests with sycamore fig shrubs and wild date palms. The blue oceans and sugar-white shores are just an hour’s drive away—only 70 km—from the Mozambique border.

Southeast – Up Close with Wildlife

The Lowveld makes up a substantial portion of the South East region of Eswatini. The Mkhaya Game Reserve is the main safari location in the nation. The experience with rhinos at the reserve is well-known worldwide. You are more likely to see the gentle and critically endangered rhino here than in any other place in Africa. In addition to being more frequent, these meetings are also closer, which makes for a genuinely unique and exceptional experience.

This area includes the Usutu River as well. This river, which is the main one in Eswatini, is perfect for white water rafting and an exciting burst of adrenaline.

Spectacular Scenery in the South West

The South West territory is characterized by gently sloped terrain and rushing rivers that carve out valleys and gorges, creating stunning landscapes.

  • Ngwempisi Wilderness

For those seeking hard and thrilling hiking trails, this region of Eswatini is perfect. The arid, uninhabited environment is dominated by a magnificent gorge created thanks to the Ngwempisi River as it cuts across the Ntfungulu Hills. The vistas and scenery make the difficult walk worthwhile.

  • Nkonyeni Golf Estate

The Usutu River borders the Nkonyeni Golf Estate. A one-time PGA Tour winner from South Africa Louis Oosthuizen (among the favorites on Eswatini betting sites with the golf events on offer for many years) and Zimbabwean golf course designer Peter Matkovich created the Golden Eagle Links (opened in 2020) with the intention of designing a course that can be played repeatedly due to the numerous factors that might affect a shot. The Nkonyeni Bushveld Golf Course, a top-notch Championship Gold course, is also located in Nkoneyni. The 18th hole offers a shot over the Usutu River upon an island encircled by rocks, which is a truly unique experience.

What to Eat in Eswatini?

It is good news for vegetarians and vegans that traditional Eswatini food rarely contains meat. Meat is reserved for festivities and rare occasions because it is a luxury. Bean and rice, pumpkin, pap, and sweet potato are common staples. When in season, a variety of tropical fruits, including mango, guava, papaya, banana, and avocado, are offered.

Weather and When to Travel 

Mid-April through mid-October is the dry season. The nights are cool, while the days are sunny. A temperature of 20 °C on average.

Beginning at the end of October and lasting until March is the rainy season. Even though it might get chilly at night, the nights are often warm during the day. The maximum temperature is 32 °C.

  • The Buganu season, from February to March, is when you may sip locally brewed marula beer.
  • May through September is the best time to see wildlife in the Lowveld since the temperatures are milder and the winter flora creates a beautiful backdrop. Additionally, that is when the renowned Umhlanga festival takes place.
  • The best time to travel if you are looking for adventure and stunning photo opportunities is from December to April. Rivers that are running freely and rich flora provide beautiful backgrounds.

Additional Information

  • Swazi and English are the two official languages.
  • The majority of the country of Eswatini is malaria-free, making it a low-risk region for the disease.
  • The nation’s area totals just 17,364 square kilometers (10,789 square miles).
  • The Lilangeni (plural Emalangeni) is the currency. Its value is set at the same as one South African rand. Everywhere will accept Rand, and change will probably be offered as Emalangeni.
  • Tipping at restaurants often ranges between 10% and 15%.

Have a nice trip to Eswatini and share your experiences on our social media!