Swaziland is an absolute monarchy located in Southern Africa. It is a landlocked country sharing its borders with South Africa in its west and Mozambique in the east. Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world and is, at the same time one of the smallest countries in Africa. However, despite this, it has a giant heart: its reputation for friendliness is well known as is its interesting natural beauty and variety: it has several large game parks and reserves sponsored by the government.
In comparison with other countries in the region, Swaziland definitely stands out as the most civil and peaceful one, with locals who exude warmth despite what they had to live through. Namely, this country had poverty problems typical for Africa and apart from that one of the world’s worst AIDS crises. In the past decades, the situation with AIDS was regulated and Swaziland regained a regular flow of tourists. Hlane Royal National Park is one of the greatest attractions and the largest national park in this country: here, you can see a variety of wildlife including lions, white rhinos, zebras, elephants and other rare mammals, not to mention rare bird species.
Warnings & Dangers in Swaziland
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall, Swaziland is mostly safe to visit, but it has many dangers that tourists should be aware of. Though it isn't notorious for violent crimes, you shouldn't carry or flash any possessions as this country is poverty ridden and your valuables might attract attention. Apply basic precaution rules to minimize chances of getting hurt.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : HIGH
Traffic accidents are one of the greatest dangers in Swaziland. Tourists are advised to be particularly cautious on the road as there are many road hazards in this country, such as: reckless drivers, speeding, poor lighting, ignoring traffic signals, livestock on roadways, slow vehicles on the road, drunk drivers, drivers texting, poor road conditions and extreme weather conditions (heavy fog, rain, hail).
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Petty theft exists in Swaziland, mostly in the form of bag snatching and pickpocketing. Tourists are recommended to remain vigilant at all times when on the street. Make sure you don't flash your valuables on the street or eat expensive or quality foods in front of people if residing in impoverished areas.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
As for natural disasters, one of the more serious issues are the hippopotamuses that can (albeit rarely) be found in the Swaziland's rivers, and are one of the more dangerous animals in existance . They usually stay submerged in water during the day, and come out at night. They can be unpredictable and territorial so be vigilant around rivers. Crocodiles are a more common danger when swimming in rivers. Another threat posed by Swaziland's nature is the heavy presence of lightning: this country has one of the highest numbers of people struck by lightning per capita in the world.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
Muggings and robberies are common in Swaziland; in fact many people have reported being robbed in broad daylight, in front of people, so the presence of other people on the streets is not a sign of any type of safety. Kidnappings aren't common in Swaziland.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Although there haven't been any terrorist attacks in Swaziland's recent history, they shouldn't be ruled out so remain vigilant at all times.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams are very common in Swaziland, so double check your change, never pay anything upfront and negotiate everything in advance. Watch out for people sending you free drinks and never leave your drink unattended.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Swaziland isn't the safest place for a solo female traveler. If you do visit this country, make sure you don't wear anything of value when walking the streets, and never ever leave your accommodation alone at night. It is best to move around accompanied even during the day.
So... How Safe Is Swaziland Really?
Swaziland is generally safe to visit, but it’s a country of many dangers. Even though physical violence isn’t very common in Swaziland, walking around at night is advised against, especially outside Mbabane and Manzini where there is almost no street lighting. As far as your possessions go, tourists are advised to not flash any of them, especially if they’re valuable in any way, and if you are working or travelling in impoverished rural areas, do not eat expensive foods in front of the locals, particularly the children, who aren’t used to eating quality foods, especially if they are AIDS orphans fed within the Sebenta school programme.
Speaking of AIDS, Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world, though it’s under control nowadays. Still, nearly 1 in 3 adults are infected, which is why it is important for tourist to know that if they find romance in Swaziland, they should insist on an HIV test and never have unprotected sexual intercourses.
Another issue to keep in mind is not to ever, under any circumstances, insult King Mswati III or the royal family of Swaziland. There have been cases of people being shot or brutally injured for having something negative to say about the royal family. Also, try to avoid all political demonstrations that are known to be held from time to time.
- Visas - Most countries do not need a visa in order to enter Swaziland. Visitors will usually receive entry permission valid for 30 days. Make sure your passport. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry into Swaziland and has at least 2 blank pages. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - There are two official currencies in Swaziland: South African rand and Swazi lilangeni. ATMs are common throughout the country, while credit cards might not be accepted in rural areas so it is wise to have some cash with you at all times.
- Weather - The climate of Swaziland varies from tropical to near temperate depending on the area of the country. In general, rain is usually expected during the summer months, often times accompanied by thunderstorms. Winters are usually mild and dry.
- Airports - King Mswati III International Airport, originally named Sikhuphe International Airport is an airport in Swaziland. It is the only international airport in Swaziland accepting commercial flights with others being private and unpaved.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Swaziland, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.