Eswatini (Swaziland) travel guide

On 19 April 2018, King Mswati III renamed Swaziland to Eswatini, meaning “Land of the Swazis”.

With traditional customs still central to everyday life, the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) offers an unparalleled insight into Africa’s tribal societies in a setting that is safe and welcoming to visitors. Combine this with a varied landscape and untamed wildlife, and you have a nation ripe for exploration.

Eswatini (Swaziland) holds the accolade as the only absolute monarchy in Africa (and one of only a handful left in the world). The monarch plays a central role in political and cultural life, with the country’s most important annual events, such as Independence Day, closely linked with the royal household.

Though smaller events involving traditional dress and celebrations can be found across the country at almost any time of year, it is the set piece ceremonies that draw the largest number of participants. In fact, the Umhlanga (Reed Dance) festival is one of Africa’s biggest cultural events. Thousands of unmarried Swazi women travel to the round, mud-brick buildings of the royal compound at Ludzidzini, where they pay tribute to the Queen Mother with reeds, song and dance.

The Incwala, or Kingship Ritual, takes place during the summer solstice and is a rare survivor of what was once common across southern Africa. The highlight of the festival is the spectacular sight of Swazi men in full battle regalia, the likes of which you will not have seen outside a Hollywood blockbuster.

Eswatini (Swaziland) also hosts a great diversity of landscape, ranging from river valleys and cool mountainous Highveld in the west, and hotter and dryer Lowveld in the east. A typical African landscape of acacia-dotted grasslands, the Lowveld is where the country’s most iconic wildlife can be viewed. Mkhaya Game Reserve, one of 17 protected areas, is considered one of the very best places in Africa to witness rhino in their natural habitat.

Friendly, safe and spirited, the country’s distinct and ever-present cultural traditions, together with its landscapes and wildlife, make this small land-locked country a unique and enticing destination.