All the reasons you should visit Eswatini

All the reasons you should visit Eswatini

The Kingdom of Eswatini in Southern Africa is roughly the size of New Jersey. A lot of people don’t even know about it. Because of my time there and my love of the country, I knew one of my first posts on this blog had to be about this gem. Read on about all the reasons you should visit Eswatini!

Eswatini is the local word for Swaziland (the former name of the country). People may know of Eswatini because it’s the last absolute monarchy in Africa. I’m not here to get into the politics of the country or to compare with my western cultural norms. But what I do want to do is to tell the world all the reasons you should visit Eswatini. These are the things that make it special and unique. These are the reasons it’s one of my favorite places.

Read on for all the reasons you should visit Eswatini!

Eswatini is BEAU-TEEEE-FUL

The country is very small and is situated inside South Africa with Mozambique to it’s eastern side. Although it’s small in size, its landscape is so diverse. The western half is what they call the “high veld” green, lush, and mountainous; the middle of the country is a “middle veld” landscape and the eastern end has a “low veld” landscape being dry, flat, and hot. You can drive just a little amount of time and see the landscape change from mountains to safari-like oasis.

The people are warm, hospitable, and have so much to share

When traveling to a new place, it’s always helpful to know how friendly and welcoming people will be. In Eswatini, you can be confident that you will be welcomed with open arms. The people will be very friendly. This could be a whole separate post on it’s own, but women — there is nothing like female friendships in Eswatini.

The Big 5!

Lions, Leopards, Rinos, Water Buffalo, and Elephants. You can find them all in Eswatini! One of my favorite places to visit is Hlane Royal National Park

This is an highlight of all the reasons you should visit Eswatini.

Affordability

Once you are there (after you bought the plane ticket…) things are very affordable. I am a big believer in putting money into the local economy when you visit places. For budget-conscious travelers, you can still do this in Eswatini. I recommend finding many ways to do this, as tourism is a big part of the nation’s income.

Hiking

You can find all sorts of amazing hiking trails in Eswatini. I recommend the following places: Malolotja Nature Reserve, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Sibebe Rock, Bulembu, and Mahamba Gorge. You can read more detail about these places in my Southern Africa 2 week itinerary.

Regardless of your travel style, you will find something

Are you a solo-traveler, a budget-traveler, or traveling with a group? Are you into luxury travel or into backpacking or adventure-travel? It doesn’t matter! You can find something for all of these types of travel.

Weather

Traveling from the U.S. the climate in Eswatini can be a gift. Some of the prime times to travel in Eswatini will allow you to get away from the U.S. when you most want to! The country lies in the southern hemisphere meaning it’s winter runs from May-September and it’s hot summer months are from November-February. If you want to get away from your hot U.S. summer, you can travel to Eswatini to cool down (but not be too cold). If you want to find some heat in your U.S. winter, you can warm up here.

Eswatini has some of THE BEST thunderstorms. This is not to be taken lightly, because it can actually be dangerous. But if you are in a safe place, it’s amazing to watch a storm come in during the rainy season

Bushfire Festival

This is an annual international music festival that happens in May of each year. Music artists travel to perform from all over Africa and from all over the world. You can choose to get a day pass or to stay for the whole thing (3-4 days). Even if you aren’t a music-buff, I highly recommend going if you are in-country during this time. It’s a vibrant experience whether you’re listening to the music, eating food, or just engaging with other people visiting.

Fruit

Eswatini has so many delicious fruits!! Eat your way around the country with mangoes, papayas, lichis, guavas, oranges, avocados, and even pineapple!

Braai

While in Eswatini you should definitely seek out the opportunity to attend a braai or to braai some meat yourself. Braai is a similar term to BBQ. People gather together to socialize around cooking meat. You can find this at your bus stop, in the city, or at a planned gathering of friends. And it’s so delicious!

“Fatcakes” (emafatsa)

These are the most delicious fried balls of dough. I’m not a big donut fan in the U.S., but these are the best treats for an afternoon snack or morning breakfast. Eat them with some likhofi (coffee) or litiya (tea). You can find these baked by local women or at the local grocery store.

Eswatini has one main language : siSwati

Unlike other countries you may travel to (where many different languages are spoken), you can be confident that you can get around in English or in siSwati (if you have the ability to learn some before going).

Bus and khumbi rides

While they can be intimidating at first, these rides are the best way to get around the country. You will have the opportunity to hop on a bus at an affordable price and to drive around and throughout the mountains. The views are breathtaking! They’re some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.

Life happens at a slow pace

Which is often is a welcome change to us frantic Americans: I always find that travel slows me down in a wonderful way. When traveling in Eswatini, you will be able to enjoy the slow pace of life and to relax.

Proximity to other destinations

Eswatini is such a small country which means that it is close to other wonderful destinations. You can drive to Johannesburg (“Joburg”) in 4 hours. Get to Durban (pictured above) in 5 hours for an experience at the Indian Ocean coast. Maputo, Mozambique is also just hours away. Once in any of those places, you can explore a whole new place AND reasonably be able to fly anywhere. With that said, Eswatini will probably capture your heart — you might not want to leave!

Whether you stay in Eswatini for 5 days or for 2 years (like me) it will steal your heart. I strongly recommend taking at least 2 weeks there. Yes, it is the size of New Jersey, but two weeks will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself at more length and to get to know the people. It may be the size of New Jersey, but it’s the size of California in offerings.

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