What we loved…
Manageable – There aren’t many countries in the world that you can visit for a short time and leave feeling like you “saw it all”. Traveling Swaziland, however, is easy as can be. Its small size makes it truly manageable and easy to tack on to a bigger trip to South Africa. Driving across the borders are no problem, and you don’t even have to exchange money. Swazi money is tied to the South African Rand, so they accept both currencies. Just be sure to spend all your Swazi lilangeni before heading back, because South Africa does not accept Swazi money.
Landscape – Swaziland is a country strewn with wonderful waterfalls, majestic mountains, and endless seas of green. It’s a great country to road trip around. as well as to get out and hike.
Culture on Display – Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but it’s really nice that they display their unique culture in such an accessible way. You can see a cultural song and dance show and tour a traditional beehive hut village. This gives you a unique glimpse into their customs and traditional way of life. If you’re really feeling up for it, you can even stay in a Swazi beehive house.
What we didn’t love…
Tour Bus Stop – Because Swaziland is an island in the sea of South Africa, it’s super easy to get to. Tour buses full of passport stamping westerners hop on over just for a 1 or 2 day jaunt while on their South African vacations. This is great for those on the tour buses, but not so great for any other tourists. All the major highlights are full of tourists. But hey, if you have your own wheels, just drive past those tour buses and find your own spots.
Super Westernized – I don’t know why, but for some reason we were expecting Swaziland to be this “quintessential African bush”. We foolishly expected everyone to be living in traditional huts, wearing traditional clothes, and living a traditional lifestyle. A haven without western influence. I think not! Swaziland is as western as they come. I think if we weren’t expecting a mall-less country this would have come as way less of a shock. Hopefully your expectations will be more in line with what you’ll actually find.
Private Game Reserves – There’s plenty of exotic wildlife in Swaziland, but it has almost all been enclosed in fences by a number of foreign owned private game reserves, which is sort of a bummer. I just hope it’s boosting the local economy or bringing some sort of benefit to Swaziland, and not just these foreign corporations.