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Eswatini (Swaziland) Safari Tours & Holidays

The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small but fabulous destination for a safari vacation. The country’s protected areas have a lot of variety, especially given the tiny size of the kingdom. This in turn means there is a diversity of wildlife, which is particularly good in the premier parks of Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve. Other protected areas encourage getting out and about on foot or bicycle, due to the absence of dangerous animals, to explore the sublime landscapes.

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1-11 of 11 trips, packages and vacations to Eswatini

7 Questions About Eswatini Safaris


7 Questions About Eswatini Safaris

Answered by Alan Murphy

When is the best time to visit Eswatini?

“The dry winter months (May to September) are usually the best time for wildlife viewing on an Eswatini safari holiday. At that time of year there is the increased possibility of spotting some of the smaller critters in the kingdom, which are usually elusive at the best of times. During winter the vegetation dies back, and wildlife tends to be drawn to the remaining water sources. This means that staking out a waterhole can make for very productive viewing. Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve have decent wildlife viewing year-round. This is because many of the more popular (and endangered) mammals are kept in large enclosures, making them relatively easy to find. Keep in mind that most parks see an upsurge in visitor numbers during South African and Eswatini holidays.”

More about the best time to visit Eswatini 1

Why visit Eswatini? What are the major attractions?

“For some people, not being in South Africa is a major attraction of Eswatini. There is certainly a tension that can be experienced in South Africa (due to crime and the legacy of entrenched racism) that is absent in Eswatini. But the kingdom offers so much more. For a dose of culture, adventure sports and craft shopping head for the Ezulwini Valley, just outside the capital, Mbabane. If white-water rafting is your ticket to adrenaline heaven, shoot for the Great Usutu River in central Eswatini. However, it’s the patchwork quilt of protected areas that really grabs the imagination in this country and makes an Eswatini safari trip well worthwhile. Hlane Royal National Park is arguably the best protected area for wildlife in the kingdom. Apart from buffalo, the Big Five are here, and it’s a beautiful park. And if you’ve extra coin rolling around in your pockets, then Mkhaya Game Reserve is stunning, with your best chance of spotting black rhino in this part of Africa. The other protected areas make for some excellent activities such as walking and cycling (but are less about the Big Five).”


What does an Eswatini safari cost?

“Most Eswatini safaris and tours cover more than just the kingdom, i.e. Eswatini safari trips involve parks in South Africa, such as Kruger and parks in KwaZulu-Natal, and the longer trips go further afield again. Keep in mind that Eswatini is tiny, so it’s easy to ‘pop in and out’ while you explore the wider area. If you go to Mkhaya, which is a private reserve, you will pay more but the quality of the guiding, the animals you will likely see and the fantastic accommodation in gorgeous surrounds make it well worthwhile. If you go on a big, organized tour then the most popular Eswatini safari packages tend to be budget (camping) and mid-range (lodge accommodation) tours. Generally speaking, in Eswatini the prices of camping safaris will be around US$100 per person per day, while the price of a mid-range tour will be upward of US$200 per person a day and will involve staying in comfortable lodge accommodation. An Eswatini tour also travels through a good chunk of South Africa, so your holiday can cover a lot of ground. And if it’s luxury you seek then the sky is the limit! While Eswatini has some accommodation that can be considered top end, South Africa and Kruger National Park, and its surrounding network of private concessions in particular, have world-class luxury safari vacations on offer. So, it all comes down to your taste and the weight of your wallet.”


How is the wildlife viewing in Eswatini?

“The wildlife viewing in Eswatini’s premier parks – Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve – is excellent. Together they support all of the Big Five (Hlane lacks buffalo, Mkhaya lions and elephants). Mkhaya boasts the kingdom’s only buffalo, black rhino, sable antelope, eland and tsessebe populations. What makes the wildlife viewing even better is the drive-through enclosures that are used to support populations of some of the more vulnerable species. This is one of southern Africa’s best places to see black rhino. At the popular Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary there are no animals considered dangerous to people, which means activities such as guided walking, horseback riding and mountain biking are allowed. The wildlife you see includes different species of antelope, hippo, wildebeest and warthog. It’s a lot of fun spotting these species under your own steam. Mbuluzi Game Reserve is similar to Mlilwane where seeing animals on foot is the primary way to experience the reserve. Also here are nocturnal creatures such as civet, honey badger and bushpig that make for an exciting night safari.”

More about viewing wildlife & animals in Eswatini 4

How safe is Eswatini for tourists?

“Eswatini is a very safe country to spend time in, and in the parks and reserves it’s very unusual to experience crime targeted at tourists. This can come as a relief after spending time in South Africa, which is well known for its high levels of crime. The only exception to this is the larger urban areas such as Mbabane and Manzini – here the same rules apply as they would in any city. That is, don’t wear or carry flashy expensive items, leave valuables in a hotel safe, don’t walk around at night (catch a taxi instead), and be on a higher level of alert regarding what is going on around you on the streets. In the parks and reserves, wildlife viewing always entails some risk – after all, wild animals are unpredictable. However, if you listen to your guide’s instructions then you’ll almost certainly be fine. Serious incidents are rare, and in Eswatini almost unheard of.”


What type of accommodation can I expect?

“In Eswatini you can expect all types of accommodation – from camping through to good, solid mid-range lodges at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Hlane Royal National Park, and then upwards to the relative luxury of the rustic, semi-open cottages to be found at Mkhaya Game Reserve, or the luxury tents and lodges in Mbuluzi. This type of top-end experience tends to be excellent value in Eswatini, especially when compared to neighboring countries. For super luxury, with all the facilities and the perks, you’ll need to head for one of the private concessions around Kruger National Park in South Africa. In general, the type of accommodation you end up with is directly linked to how much money you want to spend, and although there are limits to this in Eswatini, the bar is a lot higher in nearby South Africa.”


What can I expect from a safari in Eswatini?

“You can expect to see a lot of wildlife in the premier parks of Hlane Royal National Park and Mkhaya Game Reserve on an Eswatini safari vacation, including the Big Five. In particular, you may well spot rare species such as roan and sable antelope, and Mkhaya is probably the best place in southern Africa to see the highly endangered black rhino. In other protected areas you can enjoy the beautiful African landscapes by getting out on foot, horseback or bicycle. The larger, potentially dangerous animals are absent from places such as Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary or Mbuluzi Game Reserve. Lastly, given the warmth and hospitality of the Swazi people, you can expect a great time connecting with the locals while enjoying the kingdom’s wildlife. If interested you should read up on Eswatini’s history. Its conservation-minded policies are no accident: conservation is something the kingdom had to fight hard for.”


Eswatini Safari Reviews

4.1/5 10 Reviews
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

The Unknown Kingdom

I’d wanted to visit the mysterious Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) for as long as I could remember, so I was delighted to cover a story on conservation in the country for BBC Earth magazine. Eswatini is home to many rare and...

Full Review

Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Home of the Big Game Parks

Pint-sized Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is unchartered safari territory for most Africa aficionados. Sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, just to the south of Kruger National Park, this tiny African monarchy offers an impressive...

Full Review

cosmo45  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Feb 17, 2020

I spent four nights in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in January 2020, staying in Mbabane, the small capital. The country is roughly the same size as Wales. The roads are not as good as those in neighbouring South Africa: there are many...

Full Review

Бенуа Брэгонов  –  
France FR
Reviewed: Jan 27, 2019
A really exotic experience in a country that deserves more recognition.

I was really pleased by my discover of the Swaziland. I love to walk across the Mlilwane wildlife sanctuary. It was a really implying day, during this visit i could see beautiful landscapes and admire wild animals living in half-liberty. It...

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Oliver Townsend  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jan 14, 2019

I was lucky enough to do safaris as three different places during my trip - one by bicycle and two in 4x4. My favourite was the Mkhaya Game Reserve. We did both sunset and sunrise safari drives and the wildlife, scenery and overall...

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Jicéhef  –  
France FR
Reviewed: Jan 12, 2019
A trip to authenticity

The trip to Swaziland has been a very nice discovery. People are really nice and not polluted by European way of living. Landscapes are beautiful! Accommodations are good (compliant to European standard !!). This is really a place I’d...

Full Review