This tiny, land-locked nation boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage. Swaziland encompasses a diverse array of ecosystems – towering mountains and low-lying savannah, tangled rainforests and lush river valleys. Highlights of this laid-back land include the mesmerizingly beautiful ‘Valley of Heaven’, the handicraft haven of the Malkerns Valley and the Hlane Royal National Park, famed for its white rhinos, antelopes and lions.
Banking and Currency
Lilangeni (SZL; symbol E) = 100 cents. The plural of Lilangeni is Emalangeni. Notes are in denominations of E200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of E5, 2 and 1, and 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
The South African Rand is also accepted as legal tender (E1 = 1 Rand) so if coming from South Africa, there’s no need to change money.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency.
Visitors are advised to exchange Emalangeni back into their own currency (or into South African Rands) before leaving Swaziland.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1430, Sat 0830-1100.
Only a few ATMs accept international credit/debit cards. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted at hotels and upmarket shops and restaurants.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted. Several banks will exchange travellers cheques, but to avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take them in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Car are driven on the left side of the road in Swaziland. The road system is largely well developed, although there is little street lighting. The main road from east to west is the MR3. Some roads are winding and roads can be rough in the bush.
Car hire: There are a number of international car hire companies in Swaziland.
Regulations: The maximum speed limit is 80kph (50mph) on the open road, and 60kph (37mph) in areas that are built-up.
An International Driving Permit is required; or domestic licence (with photo ID).
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Mains water is generally safe but bottled or sterilised water is preferable. Drinking water outside major cities and towns may be contaminated. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption; exercise caution if milk is of uncertain provenance. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Restaurants are found mainly in Mbabane and in tourist areas such as the Ezulwini Valley. Portuguese cuisine (an influence from nearby Mozambique) including seafood, and especially prawns, can be found in areas like Big Bend. African staples such as stew and pap can be sampled in more remote locations. Other international food available includes Indian, German, Swiss and French.
Tipping 10 to 15% of the bill is customary for good service in restaurants and hotels.
Climate and Weather
Due to the variations in altitude the weather is changeable. Except in the lowland, it is rarely uncomfortably hot and nowhere very cold, although frosts occasionally occur in the Highveld which has a wetter, temperate climate. The Middleveld and Lubombo are drier and subtropical with most rain from October to March.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
Lightweight cotton or linen clothing is recommended, and a jacket is advisable for the evenings. Waterproofs are rarely needed unless you’re doing a lot of walking between October and March. Sunscreen, a sunhat and sunglasses are essential as is a good pair of walking shoes.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Swaziland are the “Type M ” South African SABS1661 (“Large” 15 amp BS-546) sockets. This is actually an old British standard. The “Type M ” South African plug and socket is not to be confused with the “Type D ” Indian plug and socket. In pictures, they look very similar, but the South African type is much larger than the Indian type, and they are physically incompatible. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Swaziland usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far lower than in most of the rest of the world. Consequently, North American appliances are generally built for 110-120 volts.