Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a small landlocked country located in Southern Africa. Despite its size, it offers a wealth of cultural experiences, stunning landscapes, and wildlife encounters. Here are some of the best places to visit in Eswatini, along with information on how to reach them and the best time to visit:
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: Located in the Ezulwini Valley, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is Eswatini’s oldest reserve and a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Explore the park on foot, bicycle, or horseback and spot a variety of wildlife, including antelope, zebras, and wildebeest. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes, go birdwatching, and learn about the local culture and traditions.
Hlane Royal National Park: This national park is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including lions, elephants, rhinos, and a wide variety of bird species. Take a guided game drive or walking safari to explore the park and get up close to the wildlife. Hlane Royal National Park is located in the eastern part of the country and can be reached by road.
Ezulwini Valley: Known as the “Valley of Heaven,” Ezulwini Valley is a scenic region with lush greenery, rolling hills, and cultural attractions. Visit the Mantenga Cultural Village to learn about Swazi traditions, watch traditional dances, and explore the craft markets. The nearby Swazi Candles Craft Market is also worth a visit, where you can witness the creation of beautiful handmade candles.
Mkhaya Game Reserve: Mkhaya Game Reserve is a private reserve known for its conservation efforts and rare species, including black and white rhinos. Take a guided game drive or walking safari to spot these magnificent creatures and learn about the reserve’s conservation initiatives.
The best time to visit Eswatini is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. The weather is cooler during these months, making it more comfortable for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing. However, Eswatini has a mild climate, and even during the wet season (October to April), the rain showers are usually short-lived and shouldn’t hinder your travel plans significantly.
To reach Eswatini, the most convenient way is to fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, and then travel by road to Eswatini. Several shuttle services and private transfers operate between Johannesburg and Eswatini, making the journey relatively easy. It is also possible to fly into King Mswati III International Airport, located near Manzini, which has limited international connections.
Within Eswatini, getting around is primarily by road. Renting a car or hiring a driver are the most common options for transportation. Public transportation, such as minibusses and taxis, is available but may not always be reliable or convenient for reaching remote areas.
In conclusion, Eswatini offers a diverse range of attractions, from wildlife-rich reserves to cultural experiences. Whether you’re exploring the wilderness of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, encountering wildlife in Hlane Royal National Park, or immersing yourself in Swazi traditions in the Ezulwini Valley, Eswatini promises a memorable journey. Plan your visit during the dry season for the best wildlife sightings and comfortable weather conditions.