Swaziland
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Swaziland

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Swaziland Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq miles).

Population

1.4 million (2013).

Population density

80.8 per sq km.

Capital

Mbabane.

Government

Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1968.

Head of state

King Mswati III since 1986.

Head of government

Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini since 2008.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. South African-style plugs with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin are in use.

Snuggled between Mozambique and South Africa, tiny Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It is also one of its gems. Largely free of the racial tensions of its large neighbour, and ingrained with a strong sense of national pride, the country is emblazoned with a rich cultural heritage.

If you're here during the Incwala or Umhlanga festivals this will probably be the highlight of your trip to Africa. The friendly, laid-back people are perhaps the country's greatest draw, and despite their own hardships take pride in their hospitality.

The country's protected nature reserves and parks are characterised by some of the most beautiful landscapes in southern Africa. There are myriad opportunities for wildlife watching and the experience is far more low-key than in the large parks of nearby South Africa. It's also one of the best places in southern Africa to spot the elusive and near-extinct black rhino in the wild.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 26 May 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Crime levels are low, but street crimes and burglaries do occur, sometimes involving violence. Vehicles have been taken at gunpoint. Avoid walking in the downtown areas of Mbabane and Manzini after dark and do not travel around in remote rural areas unless in a group.

Keep valuables in a safe place and avoid carrying large amounts of money or wearing conspicuous jewellery.

Avoid travelling into or out of Swaziland by road at night. There have been numerous incidences of car hijacking on major routes from South Africa and Mozambique.

The political situation is generally stable, but there are occasional political demonstrations. Some political parties have been banned and designated as terrorist organisations. Avoid gatherings as these can be dispersed forcefully by the police.

Road travel

You can drive using a UK driving licences or an International Driving Permit.

The standard of driving is lower than in the UK. Drivers often cross the central reservation to avoid obstructions. Speeding is a problem (the maximum speed limit is 120 km on motorways and 80 km on other unrestricted roads). Minor roads are not well maintained and road markings are poor.

Take care on rural roads; there have been a number of serious accidents and deaths as a result of animals straying onto roads. Avoid driving on rural roads at night. As well as the possibility of hitting animals, there is the additional risk of abandoned unlit trailers and poorly lit heavy vehicles.

 

Be wary of anyone who offers you help if you breakdown or need to change a tyre as it presents the opportunity for theft, muggings and hijackings. You should park in well-lit areas. Do not pick up strangers. Do not stop to assist apparently distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers. Instead, report the incident to the police.

If you travel in a vehicle other than one registered in Swaziland, you will have to complete a customs declaration form at Swazi border posts on entry and departure. A road fund levy of E50 is payable at the border. You must carry with you in the vehicle at all times proof of your customs declaration and payment of the road fund levy. Vehicles may be searched at borders.

Do not use public transport (buses and taxis). Vehicles are generally poorly maintained and overloaded.

Air travel

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

We can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
In 2007 an audit of Swaziland’s Civil Aviation Authority by the International Civil Aviation Organisation found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Swaziland was below the global average.
The EU operating ban on airlines from Swaziland was lifted in April 2014.

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