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Design your own Bespoke Swaziland Safari: Top Tips for an Unforgettable Trip

Posted by Jenny Bowen on 18/03/2016
hippo in swaziland

Quite often organising your own safari to Africa can be pretty daunting, especially if you haven’t been to Africa before. The continent is so vast that potential visitors do not know where to start. There are too many options, destinations and prices that it can be quite overwhelming. Anyone heard of Swaziland? Sounds interesting, what can I do there? 

Your own bespoke safari to Swaziland is affordable, safe and full of adventure. Get away from the crowds and see Africa at your own pace, experience real Africa. There is nowhere quite like Swaziland and you will wish you had planned to stay longer. Is Swaziland the place for you? Why Visit Swaziland?

Featured photo credit: wikitravel.org

Swaziland is the ideal place for first-time visitors to Africa, for families, for those seeking adventure and for hikers. Despite its small size, it only equates to Wales; it is an absolute gem as it has a bit of everything that Africa can offer. In fact, it is Africa in a nutshell. There are the up close and personal wildlife experiences with elephants, rhino and lion, the short driving distances that don’t tire out younger family members, the host of adventure activities ranging from white water rafting to horseback safaris, and there are even opportunities to hike self-guided trails in the reserves that do not have the Big Five. There really is something for everybody in Swaziland.

The wonderful thing about Swaziland is that you could, in the morning, be hiking in the mountains of Malolotja, have lunch at Swazi Candles and experience one of Swaziland’s success stories, go on a safari in Hlane to see lion and elephants in the afternoon, and watch traditional Swazi dancing around the campfire in the evening. Simple and easy.

Swaziland is a safe and friendly country and is ideal for those that want to get off the beaten track of mass tourism and see the Kingdom at their own pace. Swaziland is not a polished destination, it is a bit rough around the edges, but this is one if its endearing qualities: it really is genuine, untouched Africa.

swaziland people
photo credit: pixabay

Designing your Safari to Swaziland

You need a starting point for your safari to Swaziland. Begin with what you want to see and what you want to do whilst you are away in Swaziland. Are you interested in safari, walking, culture, scenery or adventure?  Swaziland has all of this and if you want to do everything- then that is easy to do too. That is just the beauty of Swaziland.

Break it down so that you know what you would like to spend the majority of your holiday doing. This will then dictate which part of the Kingdom you want to be in, and then you can choose where you want to stay. A great travel resource to help you is The Kingdom of Swaziland which gives impartial information about the whole Kingdom, ranging from activities to safaris and from accommodation to cultural events.

Consider whether you want to travel as part of a small group trip or if you want to travel independently. There are a number of group trips you can join such as with Explore! or Intrepid Travel. Or suggested itineraries that can be personalised such as this self drive safari with Sense Africa. 

giraffe in swaziland
photo credit: pixabay

Getting to Swaziland

Remember to get your flights sorted as soon as you can as this is often the most expensive part of your trip and the nearer to your departure date the more expensive the flights can get. Gone are the days of last minute deals with flights!

Most people fly to Johannesburg, and then there is the option of either a second international flight of 50 mins to King Mswati III International airport in Swaziland, or a 4.5 hour transfer between countries. Your budget and itinerary may well determine which option you take, as Swazi’s airport is in the eastern part of the Kingdom. Either way, it is easy to organise and you may well find that you would arrive at your destination at the same time nayways. There is a bit of a wait for connecting flights to Swaziland, normally around 2 hours.

What is a Bespoke & Tailor-Made Safari?

Bespoke means made to order, according to the English dictionary, and tailor-made means that it has been specially designed for a particular person or purpose. Ultimately this is what you want your holiday to be like, so why not have a safari holiday that is specifically designed for you?

There are two ways of doing this. The first is doing it yourself, the second is getting a reputable tour operator to design your tailor-made safari for you. 

rhinoceros in swaziland
photo credit: pixabay

D-I-Y Safari

Doing it yourself can be great fun, and it gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself into your holiday research and enables you to discover what is on offer and what suits you. It can be a pleasure reading through the different reviews of lodges and safaris that are on offer and quite often your holiday is started as soon as you look on the website. It also keeps the costs down for you and allows you to carefully budget for your bespoke safari. However, it probably will prove to be rather time-consuming, so be prepared to spend more time than you think on the internet! But it is worth it.

All the accommodation in Swaziland has a way to book from overseas, and they are very helpful and give out lots of information about your stay with them. Simply contact them by email and start the process. The range of accommodation is astounding, from beehive huts in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary to staying in a local community in Shewula and from self-catering tented camps in Mbuluzi to colonial style hotels set in the mountains such as Foresters Arms.

cape buffalo in swaziland
photo credit: pixabay

Using a Reputable Safari Tour Operator

Using a tour operator to help guide you through your holiday is a far less time consuming and also a less stressful way of designing your safari. If you have not got the time for the research, then tour operators are invaluable. You will pay more for this service, but with that you will get in-depth and personal knowledge about the Kingdom in order to design your own tailor-made safari to Swaziland.

There are some operators that have not visited Swaziland, it is a small Kingdom and consequently a bit off the tourist route; so it is so important that get the correct advice and not something gleaned off the web. Do your research on your tour operator and make sure that they have personally been there and can therefore give you accurate and hands-on advice. 

Safaris and Wildlife in Swaziland

The wonderful thing about Swaziland is the variety in the scenery and the associated game reserves. In the highveld there is magical Malolotja where you can walk in the mountains and hike amongst plains game such as eland, zebra and wildebeest. There is the middle veld of spectacular boulders and dams where crocodiles reside and hippos honk. Here you can ride in amongst wildlife and watch the birds to your hearts content.

And then in the vast bushveld expanse of eastern Swaziland, in the lowveld, where the hot sun beats on the dry but life-giving soils lies numerous game reserves where you can see the Big Five as well as walk amongst giraffe and a host of antelope. It truly is a memorable safari destination. 

Jenny has been organising bespoke safari holidays to Swaziland for 15 years through her business: Sense Africa. She is a qualified ecologist, and enjoys writing about the many once-in-a-lifetime experiences of Africa. Follow my blog, Sense Africa Blog, for more African Safari stories and information, and keep up-to-date on the wonders of Africa by following my Twitter (@senseafrica) and Facebook.