Mystic Swaziland – Swaziland

Mystic Swaziland

Background and Basic Information

Beautiful Beaches
Beautiful Beaches
Swaziland is the landlocked country that was granted independence from Great Britain in 1967. It is the only monarchy in Africa and stretches 120 kilometers wide and 180 kilometers long! There are about one million people who live in Swaziland – tucked in between the South Africa’s Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal province and bordering Mozambique. The country is full of stunning mountain scenery, waterfalls, friendly smiles, fascinating culture, good wildlife and cars that drive on the left side of the road. The sub-tropical climate and rain showers create a lush backdrop with beautiful natural resources and an abundance of sugar cane and corn. There are local markets everywhere and fascinating workshops and factories to visit. The people of Swaziland are laid back, super friendly and almost all fluent in English and Siswati. It is a must place to visit since the country sees fewer than 200,000 holiday visitors a year!

How to Get There
Most travel into Swaziland is from South Africa or Mozambique. There are flights with Royal Swazi Airways Tel: 516-6155; 518-6087 Fax: 516-6156 and Swazi Express Airlines that leave from Durban, South Africa or Maputo, Vilanculos, Mozambique ranging from 60-200 USD depending on season. For budget travelling, you can take kombie (mini-bus taxis) that leave whenever the van is filled with passengers that leave from Johannesburg, Durban, Nelspruit and Maputo.

You must ask locals where the Swaziland rank is for the kombie that goes to Swaziland and you will wait there and travel with locals across the border in crammed but cheap conditions e.g. kombie from Durban to Swaziland one way – $22 USD, 6 hour travel time. There are also Baz Bus connections that pick-up you up from your hostel and drop you off to the hostel you would like in Swaziland. Baz Bus schedules don’t run everyday, cater to backpackers, and run on set schedules.

There are also Intercape, Greyhound and Translux bus services that often service to Swaziland from South Africa. As for visas, the following countries do NOT need a visa to enter Swaziland-RSA, USA, Ireland, Belgium, Isreal, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg, Spain, Poland, Uruguay, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, France, Turkey, Austria, Uruguay, Sweden, Taiwan, South Korea, and Portugal. When travelling in a car of your own or rental be sure of the border times: Lavumisa: 8am-10pm. Mahamba: 7am-10pm. Matsamo: 8am-6pm. Ngwenya: 7am-10pm.

How to Get Around
If you aren’t driving a car, the cheapest most efficient way to get around is on kombies (mini-bus taxis). They are about 30 US cents to get from Manzini, the biggest city in Swaziland, to Mbabane, the capitol. There are also cabs to hire that are more expensive but also the only option when you need to travel after 7 p.m. Local buses are also cheap but don’t run all that frequently and often take a long time to get anywhere.

Local Services
Manzini used to be the capital of Swaziland but was moved to Mbabane, pop. 60,000 for the cooler climate near the Dlangeni Hills. Both cities have ABSA and National Banks with cash machines that accept foreign bank cards. Embassies are in Mbabane, and post offices are in both cities. Internet cafes are not abundant but most hostels claim to have working access if you’re lucky. Don’t count on checking the internet everyday.

Places to Eat, Drink, and Stay
Swaziland has a variety of places to stay and eat. There are upscale hotels and numerous backpackers (hostels) to choose from. Coast to Coast, a guide to backpacking in Southern Africa lists the backpackers they enjoy. Check out Swazi-Backpackers, Legends, and Sondzela for beautiful scenery and comfortable atmosphere. Check out Swazi River Café in Mantenga Nature Reserve or Calabash restaurant for a delectable splurge. There are so many wonderful fresh produce markets that make it reasonable and easy to eat healthy in Swaziland. If you have backpackers with a kitchen, take advantage of yummy homemade organic meals, or eat the food that the backpackers provide for the lazy and tired travellers.

Siswati 101
Sawubona – Hello!
Yebo, sawubona – yes, hello
Unjani – How are you?
Ngisaphila wean unjani – I am well, how are you?

Links (to regional and related websites)
Baz Bus
Coasting Africa
Swaziplace – What’s Happening

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