Things to do
Big things come in small packages. Despite being a pocket-sized mountain kingdom, Eswatini packs an enormous amount of culture, tradition, scenery and activity within its borders. The size of the country means that most attractions can be visited on a day trip within easy reach of the Mountain View International Hotel.
Weather, Regulations and Travel Tips
It’s a year-round destination with hot, wet summers and dry, cool winters. For wildlife viewing, the best time is May to September, and in summer (October to April), the scenery is gorgeously lush and green with plenty of birdlife, local culture and attractions.
The lowland areas are hot and humid in summer, while the highlands around the capital Mbabane are cool and clear. Bring extra layers for the cool winter mornings and evenings. Malaria is low risk and is confined to the eastern lowlands, leaving the hotel malaria free!
Both the South African rand (ZAR) and the Swazi lilangeni (SZL) are accepted currency in the country, with a parity exchange rate. Credit cards are accepted throughout, and you can draw ZAR or SZL at any ATM using an international credit or debit card.
Tradition and culture
Eswatini is a proud Kingdom, with protocols and traditions that are entrenched, and the Swati royal family is treated with respect. Many traditional events involve members of the royal family such as the annual Reed Dance. Most Swazis live in rural communities, observing a traditional way of life and farming sugarcane, maize, cotton, rice, citrus, cattle and goats. They are a respectful, polite and soft-spoken nation with instinctive warmth and good manners. English is not widely spoken outside the city, and it creates goodwill if you learn a few words of conversational Siswati.
Big Five game reserves in Eswatini are small enough to ensure a viewing experience that is up close and personal. Most parks accommodate walking safaris, and in parks such as Mlilwane, you can ride horses or bicycles right up to the animals.
The Swatis have a distinctive cuisine, with staple foodstuffs given a local twist that is worth exploring. Porridge, for instance, is not the cooked oats that we know but rather a dish made from a wide variety of ingredients such as pumpkin, groundnuts, cornmeal and fermented milk. A favourite drink is a juice made from the marula fruit. And of course, the famous African braai is given a local flavour with ostrich steaks and indigenous side dishes.
Excursions from the Hotel
Hotel staff are trained and experienced in advising visitors about local attractions, excursions and activities. Ask them about water-skiing, mountain biking, birding, hiking, golf, fly-fishing, horse riding and trips to the nearby cultural village. They can also recommend safari companies for visits to the game reserves and game drives.
Things to do
Hiking trails are marked across the span of Sibebe Rock, the second-largest monolith in the world that rises a sheer 350 m above the Mbuluzi River.
Malolotja Nature Reserve with its many rapids and waterfalls is a hiker and birder paradise.
The Mkaya Game Reserve is the best place to see the rare and endangered rhinoceros, while Hlane Royal National Park and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary offer horseback and bicycle safaris.
Mbabane Craft Market is a must to buy local crafts directly from the crafters, particularly the distinctive colourful hats, woven baskets and jewellery made from plants and flowers.
The legendary Ngwenya Glass factory makes glassware and glass ornaments from recycled glass bottles.
Swazi Candles, another Swati institution, makes distinctive world-famous candles in traditional colours and patterns.
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