24 days,  August 09




Kind of travel: me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel

When: 08th Aug- 02nd Sept09

Do I need a visa?: as EU citizien you don't, it's just a stamp on the passport for free

How I moved: the country is so small than buses and minibuses can easily cover it all

Freezing or baking?: at this latitudine in August it's winter so temperatures can be relatively low (10-18 C) and a light jacket should be in your backpack, but it'll still be pleasant

Where I slept: in Mazini we stayed in a basic hotel at the bus station (21€ x a double), while in Mbabane the dusk came before we found a cheap accommodation , so we ended up in a deluxe B&B negotiating 35€ x a double (initial price 54€)

What I liked: the Umhlanga festival, to find something clean after malawi and mozambico, the biking trip in Mlilwane wildlife sanctuary

What I disliked: Mbabane is meaningless

How much daily: swaziland is more expensive than Mozambico and a budget being a couple for transp+ accomm+ food will be around 30€ each

Dangers/ hassles: walking in the evening in Manzini or Mababne you won't feel at ease


[Traveling in Mozambique]

We easily entered Swaziland in Namaacha, without needing any visa or paying any fee. Right at the border we jumped on a bus to the second largest town of the country, Manzini. We immediately felt the difference compared to Mozambique: the bus wasn't overcrowded like hell, and it left even before having all the seats full, so there was a bus schedule: spooky!!!
Through a hilly and pleasant landscape, we pulled into Manzini with the dusk already descended. Astonished of being in such a modern town, with its huge malls, we felt more in United Stated that in Africa. Maybe unconsciously missing Mozambique we found a room at the Mozambique hotel for 20€, having dinner in one of the several fast-food's with fried chicken.
The next day in 1h by minibus we reached the King Sobhuza Memorial and the National Museum plenty of details of the royal family history: don't worry it's a quick visit since there's not that much to say though. In the area there was a lot of crowd and huge circus-like tents were mounted where many Swazi girls were temporary staying getting ready for the Umhlanga festival, scheduled in 2 days time.
It's a traditional dance that draws the Nation together and reminds the people of their relationship with the King. In practice 60.000 Swazi virgins gathered in a kind of arena nearby the royal palace, dance for the king, who at the end picks his new wife to be added on top of the 13 ones he already has.
We missed the festival but the preparation was a show itself anyway.
In the afternoon we headed to the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, initially on foot then, overwhelmed by the laziness of walking 6km, we hitch-hiked.
There we rented to bicycles and by ourown we had a two wheels safari through the zebras, crocks, impalas… an interesting experience and a very different way to enjoy the African wildlife.
The day was getting over so we headed to the capital Mbabane looking for a hotel. Unfortunately we were caught by the dusk before finding it, hence we had no choice than going in an expensive (35€ for a double) but immaculate B&B, plunged in the green Swazi hills.
To leave the Swaziland we went to Piggy Peaks (2h by minibus), passing through the scenic mountainy area of the country: here we stayed few hours enjoying the Sunday morning slow peace of the town, characterized by the louder church speeches of the messes.
From Piggy Peak it's 1h by minibus up to the line of the South African border: here you'll realise how just a line on a map it's enough to separate two completely different worlds.



Swaziland it's a tiny country that would be overwhelmed by the highlights of its neighbors if it wasn't for the peculiarity of being one of the last three African monarchies. The king is Mswati III and has 13 wives: every year celebrates a National Holiday with a huge festival where he declares his new wife picked from one of the 60.000 virgins gathered near his palace from every corner of the country.
From those coming from Mozambique, Swaziland will look a clean, tidy and 'modern' country, on the other hand those from South Africa, will feel like being passed 50 years back in the history.
At the end you likely won't fall in love with Swaziland, but it'll be a curious and worthwhile divert along your South African trip.


Swaziland travel tip


EU citizens don't need a visa, so your passport will be stamped for free at any entry point open to the foreigners




The currency is the lilangeni (1€= 10 lilangeni). The peculiarity is that in Swaziland the South African Rand is commonly used as currency and the change ratio between lilangeni and rand is always 1:1. That's why is not convenient to change in the local currency your Rands, running the risk to have useless money once outside the country.




I took Lariam against Malaria, mainly due to the part of the travel in Mozambique; having a mosquito net, wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts and abounding with insect repellent, you can avoid the famigerated Lariam profilassys.
Take into consideration to buy Malarone instead of Lariam, although it's a daily dose (Lariam weekly) and more expensive, it doesn't give Lariam side effects.
If you r gonna staying for a long period in the country, obviously you have to do your counts on risks, money and side-effects!

Morevoer I had the usual vaccinations: Ephatite A, B, Typhus, Tetanus, Meningitis.
I hadn't any problem with the food or the drinks, never drinking tap water, obviously.



I used Lonely Planet 'Southern Africa 2007'; I found it particularly shallow in the details of the frequency of the public means of transports (especially to reach the villages) and also giving the distances, but it's still a helpfull travelmate