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Overview

Africa's only absolute monarchy, the tiny kingdom of Swaziland is surrounded on three sides by South Africa, which forms its main source of visitors. The tourist focus is the Ezulwini Valley, whose handful of casinos are complemented by Mantenga traditional village, which offers cultural tours and musical performances, and the Mlilwane Nature Reserve, which can be explored on horseback or on foot. For serious game viewing, Hlane National Park is home to a selection of antelope alongside reintroduced lion, cheetah, elephant and white rhino. Bordering South Africa, Malolotja Nature Reserve is Swaziland's last true wilderness, a mountainous ...

Africa's only absolute monarchy, the tiny kingdom of Swaziland is surrounded on three sides by South Africa, which forms its main source of visitors. The tourist focus is the Ezulwini Valley, whose handful of casinos are complemented by Mantenga traditional village, which offers cultural tours and musical performances, and the Mlilwane Nature Reserve, which can be explored on horseback or on foot. For serious game viewing, Hlane National Park is home to a selection of antelope alongside reintroduced lion, cheetah, elephant and white rhino. Bordering South Africa, Malolotja Nature Reserve is Swaziland's last true wilderness, a mountainous haven studded with pretty wildflowers and home to regional endemics such as black wildebeest, blesbok, bald ibis, blue crane and Gurney's Sugarbird. The world's oldest known mine, dated to 40,000 BC, lies at Ngwenya at the southern end of Malolotja. Africa's answer to Ayers Rock, Sibebe is the world's largest granite monolith, and the wobbly guided ascent takes about three hours. Another highlight for adrenaline junkies is rafting the Grade I-IV rapids on the Great Usutu River, which runs through a starkly beautiful valley of black volcanic outcrops hemmed in by wooded hills.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time - it's pleasantest climatically during winter (May-Sept.) but summer isn't forbiddingly hot.