Difference between revisions of "Swaziland"
Revision as of 11:15, 26 September 2007
Swaziland is divided into four districts:
Swaziland, one of the the smallest countries in Africa, has a reputation for friendliness in Southern Africa. It also contains several large game parks and reserves, which are sponsored by the government and are popular tourist destinations.
Compared to other countries in the region, Swaziland is known for its civility and peacefulness, despite similar problems with poverty and one of the world's worst AIDS crises.
Rumors abound that much of Swaziland's economy is based on the farming of marijuana, or dagga, as it is locally known.
The only International airport of Swaziland is Matsapha Airport , 1km outside of Manzini. Only two airlines fly there. Airlink Swaziland provides flights from Johannesburg (South Africa), while Swazi Express Airways has scheduled flights to and from Durban (South Africa), Maputo and Vilanculos (both Mozambique). There is also a small car rental station at the airport and a snack shop. A hotspot has recently been installed, allowing users with WiFi and Wireless LAN equipped computers or PDA’s to access the internet from anywhere in the building free of any charge.
Smaller bus lines, or minibuses usually stop at border crossings, where passengers must connect with an onward journey.
Most travel in Swaziland is by either car or minibus.
Minibuses are prevalent, but can be confusing. Like similar modes of travel around the world such as the jitney, matatu or dolmus, these are small vans that accumulate as many travellers as possible while making their way along a general direction. In Swaziland, these vans are often driven by very young men, and most have assistants who estimate and collect fares, ask your destination, and make change.
Be prepared for crowded seats, loud radios, and sometimes reckless driving.
Minibuses can usually be flagged down along main roads. Larger towns usually serve as minibus hubs or connections. Finding the correct bus can be tricky, so discreetly ask if you can't figure it out. You will be advised to watch your belongings, as such places, like all bus terminals worldwide, have disproportionally higher crime rates.
English is the official language of business, however the local language SiSwati (also known as Swazi) will be useful talking to some locals.
The currency of Swaziland, the lilangeni, is tied to the South African rand at 1:1. Shops in Swaziland often accept and make change for both currencies indiscriminately. This is not always the case in South Africa, however, so if you are planning to visit South Africa also, you may prefer to request rand in exchange for lilangeni.
Many foods are available in Swazi grocery stores, but traditional foods are still common, as are modern convenient food based on traditional ingredients.
Maize-based dishes are popular, and mealie-meal or mealie-pap (similar to porridge) is a staple. Beans, nuts, and sour milk are also common ingredients. Dried and cooked local meats, such as antelope, are widely available.
Sweet breads, vegetables and fruits are often available from roadside merchants.
Swaziland is a small country and it is easy to go anywhere in the country during one day.
Ezulwini Valley is located between the two major cities, Mbabane and Manzini, and in Ezulwini you will find a lot of places to stay as well as the valley have the best restaurants in the country.
A very good choice is Calabash Restaurant 
Mantenga Lodge  is one of the most popular places to stay as the place offers value for money and has one of the best restaurants in country with some interesting new creations where modern cooking is combined with traditional Swazi food items.
Ezulwini Valley are also the home of the most popular disco in the country, Why Not, as well as you find the shopping centre Gables in the same area. You will also find The Great Thaipei, a Chinese restaurant, Kanimambo with Portuguese food as well as Quatermains pub and restaurant. Another pub in the same area is Lohheya.
A few miles from Ezulwini Valley you find House on Fire, a very different and popular venue for disco nights. All the major entertainers in the South African region are performing at House on Fire frequently. Freshly Ground, Ringo to mention some.
A wonderful place to stay one or more nights is Phophonyane Falls . It is situated in the north-east, next to the Phophonyane waterfalls and offers great hiking trails. Best is to sleep in comfortable tends, next to the river.
Swaziland has a much lower crime rate than other countries in the region.
Hippopotami are found (rarely) in the country's rivers, and are one of the more dangerous animals you are likely to come across. They are actually quite fast animals, as well as being extremely strong and with large, powerful jaws. They often stay submerged in shallow water during the day, but come out at night to graze. They can be unpredictable, territorial and very protective of their young. Do not stand between a hippo and the water. One should also take care while swimming in rivers as there may be some crocodiles.
Swaziland also has one of the highest numbers of people struck by lightning per capita in the whole world and it is common to know (or know of) somebody who has been struck by lightening
Swaziland has the world's highest rate, of HIV prevalence in the world. Do not have unprotected sex in Swaziland, or anywhere else for that matter.