Swaziland defines the saying that dynamite comes in small packages as you will see from the trip reports and travel reviews on this page.
The whole country will fit snugly into the USA state of New Jersey stretching for only 174 km (108 mi) from north to south and 133 km (83 mi) from east to west and in that area lives a population of about 1.1 million people.
Most of them are very poor and manage to survive through subsistence farming but they are a very friendly nation on the whole and the atmosphere is very relaxed and welcoming.
This is country blessed with good rainfall and some spectacular mountains and hills which will provide you with absolutely breathtaking landscape scenery.
The climate in Swaziland varies from the tropical to temperate depending if you are in the highlands or the lowlands. Average high summer temperatures in Mbabane are around 26ºC (78.8ºF) and low temps there in winter hover around the 11ºC (51.8ºF) mark.
The currency used in Swaziland is called the Lilangeni and it's tied at a one to one ratio with the SA Rand which is also accepted everywhere in the country.
An adequate road infrustructure and its proximity to South Africa makes a Swaziland self drive a very attractive and practical option.
Even though the country is so small there are still ample opportunities to go on safari in four major game reserves: Mkhaya, Mlilwane, Hlane and Malolotja. The Swaziland tour reports and reviews below will give you an indication of what past visitors experiences of these game parks were like...
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Request full trip report » Ronnie rates Sondzela as maybe the best backpackers ever with accommodation being in rondavels on a hill overlooking mountains which make for amazing views. Warthogs, ostrich and impala wander around on the grounds generally ignoring the humans unless they get too close at which point the wildlife will run a short distance.
Ronnie spent most of a day soaking up the view in a hammock and catching up on some reading, occasionally going for a dip in the pool to cool off. There were also some hikes through the park to spot some of the wildlife on foot.
The highlight of the whole Swaziland travel Mlilwane stay was taking part in the Incwala ceremony which is a swazi cultural tradition to celebrate the first fruit of the season and involves a lot of singing and dancing by everyone...
Request full trip report » James and Marissa fell in love with Swaziland in Africa especially the people and Sondzela (which in siSwati means "come closer"). They enjoyed it so much that they didn't want to leave and eventually stayed for five days.
They spent their time walking through the reserve taking pictures of the animals, climbed up to the top of execution rock where alleged witches were pushed over the edge to see if they could fly (talk about a classic no win situation) and white water rafting.
James was also given the opportunity to don traditional dress on their visit to a Swazi village where Chief Albert explained the intricacies of the siSwati traditions and customs...
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Request full trip report » The game drives at Mkhaya are done in an open topped safari vehicle which Jan and May really appreciated because they got so close to some of the animals it was almost unbelievable. They drove into the midst of a herd of elephant and if they had stretched out their hands they would almost have been able to touch the hide of the closest pachyderm.
They were also allowed to get out of the vehicle by the guide (no lions in this reserve) and walked closer to a group of giraffe that were feeding on the leaves of an acacia tree which was great for May because the giraffe is her favorite African animal.
Lunch was a buffet affair with lots to eat and then they were off on a game drive again where they saw rhino, buffalo, the magnificent eland antelope, hippo and crocodiles. They both thought that this day trip was well worth the admission price as they had a great time...
Malolotja Nature Reserve
I had the good fortune to be able to spend my birthday with my wife in the Malolotja game reserve and enjoyed every moment of it.
The cottage was comfortable and the showers heated by a wood stoked fire just seemed that much warmer than at home. The barbecue area is set very naturally into the rocks that surround the cottage and we were able to braai by moon and lamplight although it did become a little chilly later on.
We saw a variety of animals and birds including the rare bald ibis, eland, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, warthog and dozens of rock rabbits or dassies as they are known locally. The landscape is dotted with rock formations at irregular intervals almost like they were pebbles flung from a giants hand.
We decided to take the hiking trail to the Malolotja waterfall which at 90 metres (292 feet) ranks as the highest waterfall in Swaziland. It was searingly hot on the trail but well worth the effort once we reached a vantage point to survey the falls after walking for just over an hour.
If you are intent on seeing the big five animals then Malolotja is not for you but it you want peace and tranquility in astonishingly beautiful surroundings then add this reserve to your itinerary.
Request full trip report » Zain and Anna also went to visit the waterfall and found it impressive but they managed to get lost on the way back by taking the wrong trail but thankfully it wasn't too long before they were on the right path again.
The sunset from their campsite was spectacular but unfortunately dinner wasn't because the chicken they had bought from the shop was frozen solid so they had to be content with oxtail soup, boiled eggs and stale bread.
June is mid winter in Swaziland so the night was cold and there was a strong wind which had them worried that the tent might be blown away. The weather begins to warm up again in late August and early September...
Hlane Game Reserve
Safari day trip in Hlane » While in Swaziland for an AIDS outreach, Whitney made a day trip to Hlane where she went on an open Land Rover safari.
She saw most of the animals there is to see in the park including rhino and lions with cubs. She even had a close encounter with an ostrich!
She has only praise for the Hlane staff and tracker and gives some great tips for future African safari travellers...
Request full trip report » The Halfords started seeing wildlife before they had even gone on the game drive. There were four rhinos on the opposite shore of a dam close to the restaurant and several Marabou storks standing around in the shallows looking like undertakers.
On their game drive they came lion with a couple of cubs, cheetah, elephants, zebra and impala. Something that disappointed them about Hlane was the fact that large parts of the reserve are sectioned off with fences which detracts from the wildness of the experience. The lions for example are kept in their own enclosure with antelope for them to hunt and even though the areas are large and you can't see both sides of the fence at once it does feel a little like a large zoo.
The advantage of this is that you can get really close to the wildlife. They were right next to the lions and got to within ten feet of the rhino. All in all a worthwhile experience for them...
Request full trip report »Trish is a birder and on that score as well as comfortable and affordable accommodation, Hlane didn't disappoint. She visited the park in mid summer which means there was lots of water about making water hole wildlife and birdwatching a little less productive but reasonably good none the less.
They managed to see a wide variety of bird species such as Blacksmith Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Purple Heron, African Fish Eagle and many more. There are a number of hides dotted through the reserve which makes birdwatching a pleasure.
Trish says that Royal Hlane was the highlight of their visit to Southern Africa with friendly, knowledgeable people and excellent birdwatching especially in the camp itself...