3 Days in eSwatini (Swaziland)
DO NOT MISS
Swazi Candles Centre, Hlane National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, chicken dust
Day 1: Arrive in Mbabane via Johannesburg.
Day 2: Visit Swazi Candles Centre, walk around Manzini
Even though it’s a tourist trap, Swazi Candles offer many locally made art and artisanal foods. There’s a hot sauce shop that is worth visiting as well as a shop selling locally distilled spirits. Watching the candles being made is also very interesting. Beware of all the crafts sold in the center, some are mass produced and not locally made.
Day 3: Head to Hlane National Park
Stay in one of the Rondavels by the waterhole. You can hear lions roar at night and young male impalas grunt (sounds like roars) to establish their dominance. Around dusk the hippos will leave waterhole to hunt during the night and in the morning you may see rhinos sleeping around it. As far as game drive goes, the Rhino Drive/Walk was worth the money. You actually get off the truck and approach rhinos on foot. It’s exhilarating! Taste some game meat at the reserve’s restaurant.
Day 4: Head to Simunye and onto Maputo, Mozambique
Sundowners Backpacker is a convenient hostel right on the main road. It is really easy to catch buses to Manzini or Mbabane. They are known for more “party scene”. Sondzela Backpackers is located inside Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and is highly recommended. Staying inside Hlane National Park at Ndlovu Camp is a must! It’s less than $40 pp to stay inside the rondavel. There’s no electricity but the staff makes it comfortable. You can stay at a traditional beehive huts at the Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge
Chicken dust! It’s road-side grilled chicken served with salad and pap and it’s delicious and cheap. Prepare to eat with your hands.
From Johannesburg, there are buses to Maputo from downtown Johannesburg. There’s also a “luxury line” option, TransMagnific, for more than double the price but they pick you up from JNB or Gautrain Sandton Station. It’s comfortable and if you book and pay 24 hrs ahead of time they will provide lunch. If staying at Sundowners they will drop you directly in front since it’s right on the road. They do not take credit cards online though, but you can pay via bank transfer.
While in Swaziland, simply wave down buses if you’re along a road and tell the conductor where you want to go. If transfers are needed they will arrange it for you and direct you to the connecting bus. Depends on distance, the cost is 5-15 SZL. If you’re in a city ask people where to go for buses to the destination you want to go. There are no schedules, buses depart when it’s near full from the bus rank.
We’ve also had good luck simply hitch-hiking.
IMPORTANT: If traveling onward to Mozambique without a visa, it is probably better to get a bus to the border, cross the border then get on another bus instead of getting on a direct bus, say from Manzini to Maputo. Obtaining visa on arrival by land takes a long time and you risk the bus leaving you.
TRAVELING WITH LESS TIME…
Any less time is pretty much just a drive through the country. Perhaps skip Hlane if you’ve already done other game drive.
TRAVELING WITH MORE TIME…
- Whitewater raft down the Usutu River
- Take a zip-lining canopy tour at Malolotja Nature Reserve
- Visit Mkaya Game Reserve, known for its large white rhino population.
- Come during late August/Early September for the annual Reed Dance.
- Check out hot mineral springs at Cuddle Puddle
- Visit Ngwenya Glass Factory
- Observe Incwala Festival in December/January.
- Attend Bushfire Music Festival in May