eSwatini, Eswatini, Swaziland. Call it what you like and write it as you wish this small kingdom in the south-eastern corner of Africa has held a special charm for me since my first brief visit in 1987.
Those days Swaziland, as it was previously called, was a short hop, skip and jump across the border where apartheid South Africa was strictly censored and policed while the neighbouring countries freely allowed the unspeakable sins of gambling, soft-porn movies and inter-racialism. An irresistible lure for many South Africans who stole across the border for a weekend of transgression without telling the dominee.
My trip was slightly less covert. Our company had booked into the Royal Swazi Spa for a three-day “planning conference” and all managers with their partners were required to attend. But it could never be three days of all work and no play. One entertainment that was arranged for us was a fun motor rally through the surrounding hills. Clues were given to navigators and penalties were incurred if drivers drove too fast and arrived too soon. It was an enjoyable way of exploring the sights of this small but diverse country.
Now, in November 2018, The Kingdom of Swaziland had by decree of King Mswati III been recently renamed The Kingdom of eSwatini but little else has changed since my first visit all those years ago. The Royal Swazi Sun is still a prime destination for those who can afford it and the surrounding countryside still holds a special charm that is unique to this country.
eSwatini is tiny (smaller than the Kruger National Park) in comparison to neighbouring South Africa but it packs a serious punch in what it offers visitors. Several trips still haven’t been enough take in all its history, culture, arts, wildlife, adventure activities and many other attractions. There always seems to be something new to discover. Whether you want to be pampered in five-star luxury or test your 4×4’s abilities, eSwatini has it all and it’s less than four hours’ drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria.
But be warned, this is not a visit that’s going to be rushed. The pace of life palpably slows down between getting your exit stamp from South Africa and entry stamp into eSwatini. Leave your impatience at the border, slow down, relax and enjoy a destination which is so similar yet so different from South Africa.
For the next few posts I’ll be sharing my experiences. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
After driving along the eSwatini border on the South African side, I entered the country without fuss at the Oshoek/Nqwenya border-post, the largest and busiest of no less than eleven entry points from South Africa.
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