Mkhaya Game Reserve

This private, upmarket reserve offers Swaziland's most exclusive safari experience. Among the big game reintroduced to their former habitat here are elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, white rhino and rare black rhino. Guided game drives offer close-up viewing, and this is one of Africa's best locations for tracking rhino - including black rhino - on foot. There are no big cats, but spotted hyenas prowl the darkness. The smaller wildlife includes a wealth of birds. Explore Stone Camp for treats such as suni and pink-throated twin spot.

Description: Nyala (Tragelaphus angasi) standing over her baby at Mkhaya Game Reserve

Nyala (Tragelaphus angasi) standing over her baby at Mkhaya Game Reserve

Right Time, Right Place

Choosing when to visit comes down more to personal priority than practicality. Most roads are navigable all year round and few attractions are strictly seasonal. The climate varies from temperate in the western high veld, where winter (June-August) can be freezing at night; to sub-tropical in the eastern low veld, where summer (Nov-Feb) can top 40°C. The rainy season is roughly October-April, but is not as clearly defined as further north in Africa, with rain possible at any time in the high veld.

Description: enjoy Swaziland's natural heritage

enjoy Swaziland's natural heritage

Summer brings dense mists in the hills and violent electrical storms everywhere. Wildlife watchers will not find the same peak/off-peak seasonal pattern of many safari destinations, as Swaziland's parks are small enough to find the game year round. The rainy season brings a richer general wildlife experience, with migrant birds joining resident species, reptiles out and about, and the high veld flora in bloom. In general, unless you aim to attend one of Swaziland's key festivals (dates below), there is no wrong time to visit.

Find out more


SiSwati and English (English is widely spoken and the medium of instruction in schools).

Description: And Find out more

And Find out more

Time zone

South African Standard Time (UTC +2)

International dialling code + 268


Visas are not required by nationals of the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa, British Commonwealth countries and EU countries.


Check you are up-to-date with your jabs. Most authorities advise that eastern Swaziland is malarial; in fact, the disease has effectively been eradicated , but take advice and err on the side of caution. Travellers arriving from countries where yellow fever occurs may need to show proof of vaccination.


Swaziland is in general a safe place in which to travel. But avoid poorly lit urban areas after dark and be careful on the roads. Don't drive at night.


The unit of currency is the Lilangani (SZL; plural Emalangeni), which has parity with the South African Rand (ZAR). Rand are accepted in Swaziland but not Emalangeni in South Africa. Recent exchange rates were US$1 = 8.18SZL. Credit cards are widely accepted and all towns have ATMs.


Budget travellers could manage on $30 per day by camping and taking local transport. A modest mid-range budget, including hotels, restaurants and most activities could be $114-152 per day. Allow more for specialised activities (eg: $91 for a half-day's white-water rafting, including lunch and transfers). Economy car hire available from $168 per week.

Getting there

You can reach Swaziland by air only from Johannesburg on Airlink (, which flies daily to Matsapha International Airport (aka Manzini). Most major international airlines fly to Jo'burg. Alternatively, drive through any of 13 border posts; the main Oshoek/Ngwenya border is 3.5 hours from Jo'burg.

Getting around

Nowhere in Swaziland is much more than two hours' drive on good roads from Mbabane. Local buses run between all towns. Car hire is available in Mbabane, at the airport or in South Africa.


Swaziland is criminally neglected by major guidebook publishers, appearing generally only as one chapter in a larger guide to South Africa. Bradt's Swaziland guidebook (1st ed, 2012) by Mike Unwin is due out in December. Good books available locally include A Traveller's Guide to Swaziland by Bob Forrester (2009, Kamhlaba Publications) and Swaziland by David Fleminger (2009, Southbound Travel Guides). For natural history, try Wild Swaziland by R Boycott et al (2007, P&J Perry). For entertainment, try The Wah Wah Diaries by Richard E Grant (2006, Picador), in which the actor describes making a film about his Swazi childhood.

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Swaziland Tourism London (www.theki ngdom ofswazila

With thanks

Mike Unwin travelled courtesy of Kenya Airways ( and Airlink (www. flyswazi la

(Travel Africa UK Summer – 2012, 102-105)

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