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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Travel Advice

Health & Safety

It is wise to be up to date on tetanus, polio and diphtheria (now given as an all-in-one vaccine), and hepatitis A. Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is needed if you are coming from a yellow fever endemic area, though a yellow fever vaccine is not needed for Eswatini (Swaziland) alone. Immunisation against cholera is no longer required for Eswatini. Anti-Malarial pills are only needed if travelling to the eastern side of the country (the lowveld and Lubombo Mountains), including the reserves of the Lubombo Conservancy. However, Eswatini is also getting close to being malaria free – see here. There is a very high HIV/AIDS infection rate, and therefore all precautions should be taken, though the country is working hard and achieving good success in tackling HIV/AIDS. Gastrointestinal infections can be avoided through regularly washing hands, along with fruits and vegetables.

Medical facilities in Eswatini are limited; however minor problems can be checked through private services offered by some hotels. In some serious cases, the poor health care available can mean that transfers to South Africa are need. It is recommended that all visitors have medical insurance.

Security checks from border forces and the local police aren’t uncommon, especially for tourists. Checks will get finished quicker and without problems provided that tourists are patient during them. With regards to crime, usual precautions should be taken when visiting an unknown place. Try to limit taking valuables out of the accommodation when possible, especially at night.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As at 2 August 2022 Eswatini had had 73 284 recorded cases of COVID-19. Of those,  71 836 have recovered with 1417 deaths, leaving just 31 active cases. 388 924 people (33.5% of total population) have been fully vaccinated . (See: Giving 110%: Eswatini’s early rollout of COVID-19 vaccines on WHO)

After some periods of restricted travel during the pandemic, as at March 2022, Eswatini is open to all visitors based on the following requirements:

  • Travellers entering and exiting the Kingdom of Eswatini must produce EITHER of the following, upon arrival at the Points of Entry:
    • A valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate (hard or electronic) and must be fully vaccinated.
    • OR
    • A valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result (hard or electronic) that is not older than 72 hours, for the unvaccinated.
  • “Fully vaccinated” means complete doses of a vaccine, i.e. two doses for a two-dose vaccine, and one dose for a one-dose vaccine.
  • Valid Vaccination Certificates considered are those of COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been prequalified by WHO. This will be updated periodically as need arise.
  • Vaccination cards are not allowed at the PoE only the Vaccination Certificates are allowed.
  • Outbound travellers from Eswatini MUST ALSO comply with requirements of the airlines and the country of transit and destination.
  • Children under 12 years are exempted from the above measures.

Click here for the March 2022 notice on Cross-border travel from the Eswatini Ministry of Health.

For the latest updates from people actively crossing Eswatini’s borders, the Hospitality & Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES) has set up its own  Eswatini Travel Facebook Group.

The Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) and the Hospitality & Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTEAS) joined forces to produce Health & Safety Guidelines on COVID-19 in the Tourist Industry in early July 2020 – to allow tourists to return to the country and visit it as safely as possible. Click here to see & download the document. These were produced based on WHO and UN guidelines and after extensive consultation with the Ministry of Tourism and WHO. The protocols are endorsed by the UN and WHO. Click here for further information.

As a result of these robust guidelines, Eswatini has been awarded the prestigious Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The Safe Travels stamp is the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed specifically to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks. It confirms that Eswatini is following world-class health and hygiene protocols, and is an important and powerful signal of a consistent global approach that allows for the rebuilding of confidence among travellers so that “Safe travels” can be enjoyed as restrictions are eased.

 

Within Eswatini, as of 18 July 2022, the Government has de-escalated the COVID-19 response to Adjusted Risk Level 0:

  • The wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory in all settings; however, individuals will be free to wear a face mask based on their assessment of perceived risk of acquiring COVID-19 in any given situation.
  • Hand-washing and sanitisation is encouraged at all times in all public spaces as a good health and hygiene practice.
  • A person exhibiting flu-like symptoms should take the responsibility to wear a face mask or, where possible, refrain from attending public gatherings.
  • Testing for COVID-19 remains available and is encouraged for all persons experiencing flu-like symptoms and if tested positive for the COVID-19, a person should wear face masks at all times if they need to go to public areas

Click here for the July 2022 COVID-19 Update from the Prime Minister.

Tourist Industry

Eswatini’s tourism industry is open for domestic tourism whilst following relevant safety procedures.  To encourage future bookings, operators have adjusted their booking terms and conditions to allow for more flexibility and fewer penalties, particularly on postponements. The industry is also promoting a series of great Special Offers to help entice more business.

Tourism plays an important role in Eswatini’s economy. It is a vital source of essential foreign exchange, and, as well as providing income from which employees support their wider families,  hotels, lodges and tourism operators across Eswatini support local communities. The inevitable down-turn in tourism will have a significant negative impact on Eswatini and its people and so potential visitors are encourage to view current disruptions as a reason only to postpone their visit, rather than cancelling plans. Once the pandemic has passed and restrictions on travel lifted, travellers are encouraged to visit Eswatini as soon as possible in order to enjoy its warm welcome, amazing range of attractions – and to help it with its recovery.

South Africa

Most international travellers pass through South Africa in order to enter Eswatini. South Africa’s borders were closed at times during the COVID pandemic but have been open since mid-2021. 20 land borders are operational (i.e. allow passage of South Africans and permitted foreign nationals). 33 land borders remain closed. (South Africa/Eswatini border posts that are open: Ngwenya/Oshoek; Matsamo/Jeppes Reef ; Mananga; Lavumisa/Golela; Mahamba)

As from June 2022, South Africa repealed its regulations that had been introduced to control entry into the country because of the pandemic, meaning that travellers can enter South Africa without the need for any COVID test results or vaccinations.

The above is for general guidance. For the latest updates on the regulations and affects of COVID-19 on travel & tourism in South Africa please check the following links:

SA Tourism

SATSA

SATSA Live Updated FAQs Document

SA Government COVID-19 Regulations & Guidelines

SA COVID-19 Online Resource & News Portal

SA FAQs on International Travel (Jan 22)

Dress

Dress is generally informal. For safaris, “natural ” colours should be worn in preference to light/bright colours. In the uplands, especially in the winter (April-September), it can be cold in the evening and sweaters may be needed. It can be very cold on morning or night safari drives.

Currency

The unit of currency in Eswatini is the Lilangeni – plural Emalangeni (E) – which is fixed to the rand (1 Rand = 1 Lilangeni). South African Rands are accepted everywhere and there’s no need to change them. In fact, some outside tourist areas will only accept the South African notes.

Emalangeni are difficult to exchange for other currencies outside Eswatini, so you should reconvert before you leave. If you are leaving through the airport you could use your last E50 for the compulsory departure tax.

Credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops but not for the purchase of petrol. Most ATMs in Eswatini accept international cards. If you have a Maestro or Cirrus debit card you can use Standard Bank ATMs to withdraw money.

Standard Bank, First National and Nedbank have branches in all the main centres. Opening hours are generally 8.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and until 1pm on Saturdays.

1 USD = 15.09 SZL
1 GBP = 19.47 SZL
1 EUR = 16.32 SZL
(rates current as of February 2020)

Declaring Goods

It is important to note the rules and regulations with regards to taking goods bought within Eswatini, out of the country. When you buy goods from Eswatini and taking them to another country, tourists will be required to declare goods and are required to buy a form and fill it for the declaration processes (which costs 41.50zar). The allowance for goods out of Eswatini is to the value of 250 ZAR per person.

Time

Eswatini time is GMT+1.

Public Holidays in Eswatini

 Public Holiday 2022
New Year’s Day 1 Jan
Good Friday 15 Apr
Easter Monday 18 Apr
King’s Birthday 19 Apr
Flag Day 25 Apr
Labour Day 1 May
Ascension Day 26 May
King Sobhuza’s Birthday 22 Jul
Umhlanga Reed Dance T.B.C
Independence Day 6 Sep
Christmas Day 25 Dec
Boxing Day 26 Dec
Incwala (First Fruit Cermony) Dec/Jan T.B.C

If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the next Monday becomes a holiday. Muslim festivals may also be celebrated in some areas.

Electricity

230 volt AC. Sockets take the South African ‘Type M’ plugs (three large round pins).

Communications

The telephone system is reasonably reliable, though mobiles can often be easier to get through to than landlines. Sim cards for local mobile phone networks are widely available and relatively cheap and easy to use. There are two mobile network providers in Eswatini – MTN has been around for a number of years and Eswatini Mobile is a relative newcomer. Most hotels and offices are readily reached by e-mail and offer wifi to guests, though internet connection can be slow. The postal system tends to be slow. International courier DHL operates in Eswatini.

TV & Radio

There is a national TV station, though its primary output is news. In addition, many city centre hotels receive international satellite channels. There are English language radio broadcasts.

Photography

Any camera equipment is best brought into the country and care should be taken to avoid its exposure to extremes of heat. Most Swazi’s will not mind being photographed but it is common courtesy to ask permission first.

Tipping

About 10% of your restaurant bill and about E5.00 per suitcase for porters. Tips are also appreciated at garages

Commercial Hours

Commercial hours are generally 08h30 to 17h00 on weekdays and 08h30 to 13h00 on Saturdays. Many supermarkets are open on Sundays, as are video hire outlets. Liquor may not be sold at retail outlets on Sundays.

Post Offices

Most postal services are available throughout the country and are open from 08h30 to 16h00 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays.

Religion

Eswatini is predominantly Christian, with Zionists being the largest denomination. There are mosques for the Muslim faith but at present, no official place of worship for people of the Jewish religion.

Language Guide

A few key Swazi phrases.

Hello……………..Sawubona
Thank you……..Ngiyabonga (I),
Goodbye……….Hamba kahle (go well)
Goodbye……….Sala kahle (stay well)
How are you?..Kunjani?
I am well……….Ngikhona
Yes……………….Yebo
No…………………Cha