Swaziland Safari - Complete Travel Guide

This vibrantly beautiful and culturally rich country is proof that dynamite does indeed come in small packages! Leisurely hikes or cycling at sunrise, coupled with fun-filled horse riding or heart-pumping mountain biking, there is a little something of everything for you to enjoy. Overnight camping with the croak of frogs and the chirp of crickets to lull you to sleep, will allow you to shed all the stress and expectations of modern life. Breathe in those amazing scents, take in that beautiful scenery, and allow nature at its finest to bring you peace.

  • Best Time To Go

    May – September

  • Average Safari Cost

    $80 - $1,000 pp/day

  • Highlights

    Big Five, Roan Antelope breeding project tours, White rhino drives, great game drives, walking and hiking trails (guided or self-guided). Mountain biking, horse riding, cycling and overnight bush trails (most are fully catered). Junior trail (Hlane Royal NP). Waterfalls and a prehistoric mine (Malolotja Nature Reserve). Family friendly.

Why Go on A Swaziland Safari

Sprawling plains, thick forests and scattered lakes: this vibrant, diverse landscape is never just one thing. From river to woodland and then mountains to waterfalls, there is spectacular scenery everywhere you look.

This small but beautiful land is dedicated to conservation and provides sanctuary to endangered animals such as the Black and White rhinos and the Sable and Roan Antelope. Taking a Rhino Drive or a Roan Drive are both sure to give you a wonderful experience. On the Rhino Drive, you may even get the chance to get out of the vehicle and carefully approach the rhinos on foot. While this is a possibility, it is good to remember that not all rhinos are approachable, and you should always listen to your guide.

There are so many ways for you to enjoy your visit. Game drives, walking and hiking trails, cycling at sunrise and even mountain biking, are all great ways to explore this stretch of wilderness. You could even take a horse ride through Mlilwane.

And when you’ve had enough wildlife and excitement, you could take a cultural tour, which will allow you to experience the rural Swazi lifestyle. The Swazi people’s rich heritage has been spread by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Their pride in their heritage is obvious for all to see. The tour includes visiting traditional living homestead and an explanation of traditional culture. You could even take a shot at day-to-day activities!

From the Big Five to rare species such as roan and sable antelope, the wildlife is amazing. Certain sections of the parks and reserves may be off-limits though, due to conservation efforts. However, in some instances, you may be able to explore the endangered species section on a game drive. The bird watching is also fantastic, with species such as the Blue Swallow and the Eurasian Peregrine Falcon.

Pros And Cons

Even though all adventures come with challenges, the journey is often as good as the destination. We hope that you will make the most of your journey and that the adventure will be everything that you didn’t know you needed.
  • The Big Five
  • Roan Antelope can easily be seen on Roan Drives.
  • The wildlife, with large herds of big and small game viewing, is fantastic.
  • Birdwatching is amazing, with a large checklist of species.
  • The country is beautiful and has a rich, vibrant culture.
  • It can rain quite often between October and April. And sometimes in the dry season too.
  • There is only one way to reach Swaziland by air - from Johannesburg.

Best Time To Go

Swaziland has a mild climate, although it does experience quite a bit of rain. The temperatures are usually pleasant through the year, although the rainfall can be inconvenient.

Rain Season: October – April

Dry Season: May – September

January is generally the wettest month of the year. The temperatures are mild at a high of 77°F (25°C) and 55°F (13°C) at its lowest. By March, the rainfall is still fairly moderate will roughly 10 days of rain for the month. It tappers off by April and the temperature gradually decreases with a high of 73°F (23°C) and a low of 52°F (11°C).
By May, the rainfall reduces to maybe 4 days a month, and by June it becomes closer to 2 days of rain for the month. This is the cool, dry season. June and July are coolest with a high of 68°F (20°C) and a low of 41°F (5°C).
The starts getting warmer again with a high temperature of 73°F (23°C) and a low of 50°F (10°C). It rainfall increases to 6 days of the month.
The rainfall picks up, and by November, it rains 13-14 days a month. The temperature increase to 75°F (24°C), with a low of 52°F (11°C).
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Wildlife And Birds

Swaziland is a great wildlife safari destination, with large herds of game that can be seen on game drives, walking trails and overnight tours. The guides are amazing and informative, and will take you along the best routes suited your interests. This means that whether you’re visiting for the wildlife or the birds, your guide will know the perfect spots to take you!</
List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Giraffe
  • Black Rhino
  • White Rhino
  • Warthog
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra
  • Baboon

Rarely Seen Animals:

  • Aardwolf
  • African civet
  • African wild cat
  • Buffalo
  • Bushbaby
  • Caracal
  • Cheetah
  • Cape fox (silver)
  • Livingston’s eland
  • Black-backed jackal
  • Side-striped jackal
  • Spotted-necked otter
  • Black rhino
  • Roan antelope
  • Sable antelope
  • Serval
  • Wild dog

Infrequently Seen Animals:

  • Baboon
  • Bushpig
  • Blesbuck
  • Duiker (blue)
  • Genet
  • Hyena (spotted)
  • Leopard
  • Vervet monkey
  • Samango monkey
  • Nyala
  • Cape clawless otter
  • White rhino
  • Striped weasel

Frequently Seen Animals:

  • Bushbuck
  • Duiker (grey)
  • Elephant
  • Giraffe
  • Hartebeest (red)
  • Hippo
  • Impala
  • Lion
  • Klipspringer
  • Kudu
  • Mongoose
  • Oribi
  • Reedbuck (mountain and common)
  • Springbok
  • Steenbok
  • Waterbuck
  • Warthog
  • Black wildebeest
  • Blue wildebeest
  • Zebra

Best Of Wildlife

Rhino Drive

This activity takes place in Hlane Royal National Park, and only includes the White rhino, as it is the only rhino in the park. While not all rhinos are approachable, your guide will know which are, and this means that you may have the opportunity to leave the vehicle to carefully approach the rhino on foot. This great activity lasts about 1,5 hours and will take you away from the Lion Area. Children from age 6+ are allowed to participate in this activity.

Roan Drive

At Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary you have the wonderful chance to visit the Roan Antelope breeding project. As one of the rarest antelope in Southern Africa, the successfulness of the breeding project can only be credited to the dedication of those involved. This beautiful animal is the second largest antelope in Africa, and has become very rare throughout all its natural habitats across the continent.


Lions are considered special animals in Swaziland, as they are symbolic of the king. Many guides will focus on areas that are of interest to you, and if you would prefer to see lion more than other animals, tell you guide. Seeing these fierce predators are a certainty with such fantastic guides.

The Black Rhino

While the White rhino is present in all three parks, the Black rhino can only be found in Mkhaya Game Reserve. This is the only Black rhino population in all of Swaziland. Other animals such the sable antelope, the buffalo and Livingstone’s eland can also only be found in Mkhaya.


Swaziland is a great destination for birdwatching. With an impressive checklist that includes the Blue Swallow, the Secretarybird and Eurasian Peregrine Falcon, your visit to Swaziland will not be disappointing. Couple this great bird list with the fantastic guides and you have the recipe for an amazing birding experience.

Endangered birds:

  • African White-backed Vulture
  • Black Harrier
  • Blue Crane
  • Blue Swallow
  • Bush Blackcap
  • Denham’s bustard
  • Eurasian Peregrine Falcon
  • Lappet-faced Vulture
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Maccoa Duck
  • Southern Bald Ibis
  • White-headed Vulture

Endemic and Nearendemic Birds:

  • Rudd’s Apalis
  • White-eared Barbet
  • Bush Blackcap
  • African Broadhill
  • Terrestrial Brownbul
  • Golden-breasted Bunting
  • Gorgeous Bush-Shrike
  • Denham’s Bustard
  • Kori Bustard
  • Black-rumped Buttonquail
  • Kurrichane Buttonquail
  • Green-backed Camaroptera
  • Buff-streaked Chat
  • Wing-snapping Cisticola
  • Bronze-winged Courser
  • Tmminck’s Courser
  • African Crake
  • Corn Crake
  • Blue Crane
  • Grey Crowned Crane
  • Wattled Crane
  • Blue-mantled crested-Flycatcher
  • African Emerald Cuckoo
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo
  • Le Vaillant’s
  • Thick-billed Cuckoo
  • Tambourine Dove
  • Square-tailed Drongo
  • African Crowned Eagle
  • Lesser Spotted Eagle
  • Verreaux’s Eagle
  • Cape Eagle-Owl
  • Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl
  • Burnt-necked Eremomela
  • Red-footed Falcon
  • Cuckoo Finch
  • African Finfoot
  • Pel’s Fishing-Owl
  • Buff-spotted Flufftail
  • Striped Flufftail
  • Fairy Flycatcher
  • Shelley’s Francolin
  • Allen’s Gallinule
  • African Grass-Owl
  • Yellow-streaked Greenbul
  • Southern Ground-Hornbill
  • Orange Ground-Thrush
  • Crested Guineafowl
  • Black Harrier
  • Montagu’s Harrier
  • African Cuckoo Hawk
  • Retz’s Helmet-Shrike
  • White-crested Helmet-Shrike
  • Rufous-bellied Heron
  • Brown-backed Honeybird
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • Southern Bald Ibis
  • Lesser Jacana
  • African Pygma-Kingfisher
  • Senegal Lapwing
  • Dusky Lark
  • Lesser Moorhen
  • Narina Trogen
  • Eastern Nicator
  • White-backed Night-Heron
  • Pennant-winged Nightjar
  • Square-tailed Nightjar
  • Marsh Owl
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker
  • Greater Painted-Snipe
  • Pink-back PelicanBuffy Pipit
  • Short-tailed Pipit
  • Caspian Plover
  • Collared Pranticole
  • African Pygmy-Kingfisher
  • Green-winged Pytilia
  • Harlequin Quail
  • White-starred Robin
  • Chorister Robin-Chat
  • Broad-billed Roller
  • Terek Sandpiper
  • African Scops-Owl
  • Secretarybird
  • Rufous-crested Sparrowhawk
  • Violet-back Starling
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Burney’s Sugarbird
  • Grey Sunbird
  • Olive Sunbird
  • Purple-banded Sunbird
  • Blue Swallow
  • Grey-rumped Swallow
  • Southern Tchagra
  • Sooty Tern
  • Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
  • Grey Tit-Flycatcher
  • Knysna Turaco
  • Livingstone’s Turaco
  • Green Twinspot
  • Pink-throated Twinspot
  • Lappet-faced Vulture
  • Broad-tailed Warbler
  • Black-throated Wattle-eye
  • Grey Waxbill
  • Orange-breasted Waxbill
  • Golden Weaver
  • Southern Brown-throated Weaver
  • Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler
  • Ground Woodpecker
  • Stierling’s Wren-Warbler

Getting There And Safety

Your health and safety is important to us. Please take the time to read to information below.

The only way to reach Swaziland by air is on Airlink, from Johannesburg to Matsapha (Manzini) International Airport. Airlink is the only airline to fly this route.

You could alternatively travel to Swaziland by road. If you are driving by yourself, it is important for you to note that the border posts usually have names on either side. From Johannesburg for example, the main border is known as Ngwenya in Swaziland but it is Oshoek in South Africa. It is also important for you to remain vigilant when approaching Swaziland, as you will pass through the dilapidated settlements of the old KaNgwane, and the road is riddled with pot-holes and wandering livestock and pedestrians.


For the flights to Swaziland, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you to Johannesburg and from Johannesburg to Swaziland, as well their schedules and ticket costs.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Swaziland.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Swaziland.


All foreign nationals visiting Swaziland need to have a passport with several blank pages and it has to be valid for three months or more.

Foreign nationals from South Africa, the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, British Commonwealth countries and EU countries, travelling to Swaziland as tourist or for business, may visit for up to 30 days without a visa. If you wish to stay longer, you will be able to apply for a further 30-day extension.

Foreign nationals from all other countries need to apply for a visa in advance at their Swazi consulate or embassy. There are no visas issued on arrival at the Swazi border.

For more information about visas to Swaziland see a visa page on the Ministry of Home Affairs of Swaziland's website.

Vaccinations and Malaria

Swaziland is generally safe to travel to in terms of physical safety and health. All the information below should be brought up with your doctor or travel clinic, as this is not meant to replace a professional medical opinion.


The risk of malaria is very low in Swaziland, but there is still some concern. Take appropriate measure to prevent mosquito bites, particularly if you are intending to sleep outside (overnight camping). Keeping your arms and legs covered at night and using a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more), is good first defence against mosquitoes.


Before travelling anywhere, you should ensure that all your general vaccinations are up to date. Cholera is no longer a concern in Swaziland, and it is best to check with your healthcare provider about any vaccinations that would be needed.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Swaziland is generally a safe and friendly destination. However, pickpocketing is not uncommon, and carjacking can occur on major routes to and from Swaziland. The basic safety guidelines for travelling should apply to Swaziland as well. Be alert, avoid walking around alone (especially at night), do not wear valuable items on display, avoid situations that could put yourself or those around you in danger and try not to be the obvious typical tourist, as this could make you an easy target. It is best to travel in groups and be extra cautious in busy towns.
Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Swaziland. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What To Pack

  • Passport and ID document
  • Camera
  • Rechargeable batteries (with charger and spare batteries)
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Warm coat/jacket – fleece is a good idea as it can be layered
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Trail/running shoes
  • General clothing (appropriate for the weather)
  • Personal hygiene items – any personal medication, toiletries, etc.
  • Basic first aid kit
  • It is always a good idea to carry extra water and high-protein/energy snack in a backpack at all times. You never know when you may need it.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List>.

Drinking Water
The main hotels and restaurants have safe drinking water; however, it is best to use bottled water when travelling in more rural areas. Many of the parks and reserves provide bottled water during game drives, walking trails and cycling. It is, however, a good idea to carry at least one bottle of water in your backpack at all times.