Visiting any unfamiliar country can be daunting. So check out these handy tips before heading to the African kingdom of eSwatini.
Formerly known as Swaziland, eSwatitni’s small size means attractions are within easy reach and its friendly locals will go out of their way to help you. For those who haven’t travelled through other southern African countries, its culture and traditions might seem unfamiliar. Here are some helpful things to know about the African kingdom.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It’s always been called eSwatini
While the country’s recent name change from Swaziland to eSwatini was a surprise to many people around the world, it was less so to the Swati people. They have always referred to the country as eSwatini as well as the name ‘Swaziland’, which was given to it by the British. In fact, the name ‘the Kingdom of eSwatini’ was already written on passports alongside the name ‘Swaziland’.
The king’s private life is private
The intricacies of Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy is fascinating to many tourists and you’re likely to have lots of questions. However, while the Swati people are incredibly friendly, you might find them unwilling to answer seemingly innocuous questions about the royal family, such as how many children does the king have? That’s because it is not permitted to share information about the private life of the king, which includes details such as the number of wives and children he has. To prevent causing offence, don’t push too hard if your questions seem to be making the locals feel uncomfortable.
Malaria rates are low
While neighbouring Mozambique is a high risk malarial zone, most parts of eSwatini have very low occurences of the disease. In fact, the country is likely to become the first in southern Africa to completely eliminate malaria, according to the Times of South Africa. Anti-malarial pills are only needed if travelling to the eastern side of eSwatini, including the lowveld, Lubombo Mountains and Lubombo Conservancy. There is, however, an incredibly high rate of HIV and aids. Make sure you always check the latest travel advice for the most up-to-date information before you travel.
You can spend South African rand
The currency used in eSwatini is the lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), which is tied at the same exchange rate as the South African rand. You’re also able to spend South African rand (excluding coins) throughout the country, as rand notes are accepted everywhere. Remember to change your emalangeni back before you leave as it’s difficult to exchange this currency outside eSwatini. Credit cards are accepted in many shops, restaurants and hotels, and most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money using an international debit card.
You can’t fly direct from most international destinations
It’s currently only possible to fly to eSwatini’s King Mswati III International Airport from Johannesburg, which takes around 45 minutes, although new flight routes are expected to open up in time. A compulsory airport tax of 50 rand (roughly £2.80) is charged when departing eSwatini by air. However, it’s easy to enter the country using the land borders from both South Africa and Mozambique, where cars are charged at 50 rand per vehicle.
You might not need a visa
Residents of most Commonwealth countries won’t need to apply for a tourist visa in advance and are able to stay for 30 days. Those staying longer can apply at the Ministry of Home Affairs. To be sure of the latest guidelines, check the Kingdom of eSwatini’s visa guide before arrival.
It’s one of the best places in Africa to see rhinos
You might be surprised to learn this tiny country is actually a great destination for game viewing: particularly black and white rhinos, which can both be seen at Mkhaya Game Reserve. Thanks to its stringent conservation laws, eSwatini has one of the lowest poaching rates in Africa.
It’s easy to get around
Being such a small country means eSwatini is easy to get around and many attractions are close to one another. This means it’s a great addition to a South African holiday, as you can see much of the country in a few days. If you’re not visiting as part of an organised tour, there are many car hire companies or, for a more authentic experience, you can travel by local bus or Kombi (public taxi). Traffic accidents are common, so take care when driving, particularly on rural roads which can be full of potholes.
It’s a polygamous country
eSwatini is a polygamous country and, while it is becoming less common to have multiple wives because dowries are so expensive, the custom is still practiced. King Mswati III himself is believed to have 13 wives, while his father, the previous king, is thought to have had more than 100.
Learn the lingo
While many people in eSwatini speak English, it’s a good idea to learn a couple of phrases in the local language, siSwati. siSwati is a Bantu language, which can be difficult to learn because it includes several clicks which are not heard in European languages.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.