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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Eswatini: The Perfect Africa for Beginners

Eswatini has been blessed this year by visits from not one but two travel photographers from the ‘Low Countries’. As well as Kim Paffen from the Netherlands visiting in June and being amazed by what she saw, Belgian photographer Jonathan Ramael returned to the Kingdom in August/September. This was Jonathan’s third visit to The Kingdom of Eswatini, whose beauty and variety keep drawing him back!

Jonathan visited as a guest of the Eswatini Tourism Authority with the brief to freshen up their image library with new, stunning images of attractions and experiences across the country.  He did not disappoint! The images used in this article offer just a glimpse of all that he managed to capture, illustrating once again how beautiful and diverse Eswatini is, despite its small size.

On a whistle-stop tour Jonathan travelled across the whole country, from Malolotja & Pigg’s Peak in the west, to Hlane & Shewula in the east – and everything in between. He was also lucky enough to visit at the time of the country’s biggest annual traditional festival, the Umhlanga Reed Dance, as well as the very different Swazi Rally. As well as his photography, Jonathan is the author of an irreverent and highly amusing travel blog ‘Trot Op!’ which he proudly promotes as ‘The Least Informative Travel Blog in the Low Countries’. A new entry this year celebrates his recent visit to Eswatini, identifying the 8 highlights from his trip and waxing lyrical in his own unique style about what he saw and experienced.

As a country that could be ‘the perfect Africa-for beginners’, Jonathan is another who highlights the great variety that Eswatini holds within its border: ’It’s small, but with a myriad of experiences to offer. You can hike through beautiful landscapes, enjoy exciting cultural events and even book a big-five safari.’ And in contrast to many people’s short stay in Eswatini, Jonathan’s repeat visits have shown him that ‘the country is worth much more than spending a weekend in ……. Eswatini is a full-fledged destination offering everything that makes a trip to Africa a unique experience, in pocket size.’

Amongst his 8 Highlights are:

Mkhaya Game Reserve

A ‘beautiful, secluded park’ where he encountered numerous rhino, what with it being ‘one of the best places in the world to spot them’

Malolotja Nature Reserve

A place of ‘overwhelming landscapes’ that are ‘full of wind-shaped rock formations, vast mountain plains and the occasional waterfall’

Hlane National Park

Home to lion and elephant and, when combined with the country’s other reserves means that ‘Eswatini offers just about everything your little safari heart could desire, and unlike in some of neighbouring countries, most overnight stays are quite affordable and you’ll never be gawking at the same lonely lion from five over-crowded jeeps.’

Umhlanga Reed Dance

The ‘biggest cultural event of the year’ which is ‘an expression of the national culture … and you are no more than a casual spectator’ making it ‘impressive to witness’ and ‘truly special’

Swazi Rally

A unique bikers event where ‘the atmosphere is great, the beers cold and the audience fantastically dressed. Think a mix of Mad Max, Shaft and the Hell’s Angels.’

Shewula Mountain Camp

A community-run camp ‘built on an impressive cliff from which you can see half the country’ that is the best place to ‘talk to (local) people at your own pace and with mutual respect’. Jonathan has been directly supporting a girl at Shewula since he first visited 6 years ago.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

The ‘most popular reserve in the country’ that can be freely explored, allowing visitors to ‘feel like a Disney princess’ by ‘skipping through herds of zebra and wildebeest’.

Foresters Arms

A charming country house hotel in the forest that ‘exudes an honest charm and homeliness’ with amazing food served by a kitchen that is ‘one of the best in the country’ 


For the complete run down of Jonathan’s Eswatini highlights, all the jokes, and more great images, do take a look at his original Trot Op! blog post: A road trip through Eswatini: discover the 8 greatest highlights of a trip to Swaziland

And to see a fun highlights reel produced by Jonathan on his Instagram page click here.