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.
As at 5 November 2022 Eswatini had had 73 618 recorded cases of COVID-19. Of those, 72 125 have recovered with 1422 deaths, leaving just 71 active cases. 410 652 people (35.4% 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 of November 2022, ALL COVID-related restrictions and requirements for entry in to Eswatini have been removed. Eswatini is fully open to all visitors once again.
Click here for the November 2022 notice on Cross-border travel from the Eswatini Acting Prime Minister.
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 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
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.
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:
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.
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)
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.
Eswatini time is GMT+1.
Public Holidays in Eswatini
|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.
230 volt AC. Sockets take the South African ‘Type M’ plugs (three large round pins).
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.
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.
About 10% of your restaurant bill and about E5.00 per suitcase for porters. Tips are also appreciated at garages
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.
Most postal services are available throughout the country and are open from 08h30 to 16h00 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays.
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.
A few key Swazi phrases.
Thank you……..Ngiyabonga (I),
Goodbye……….Hamba kahle (go well)
Goodbye……….Sala kahle (stay well)
How are you?..Kunjani?
I am well……….Ngikhona