Why should you explore Swaziland on foot and why this country is known as Africa’s nutshell nation?
Because it combines a little bit of everything you’d expect from the African continent into a country only slightly larger than the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area.
There is so much to see and do in Swaziland, yet given its size, so much of it is all too easily missed. Walking in Swaziland, though, opens up a new world…
1. Immerse Yourself in Unspoilt Africa
The slower pace of meandering across the African kingdom allows travellers to explore the true depth of culture and beauty Swaziland has to offer.
As if going from black and white to full colour, instead of rumbling through the world and stopping occasionally at key places of interest, you get to see every aspect of this stunning country.
You see its hidden treasures, its flaws and all the places in between. This is a real and raw experience, offering opportunities for cultural awakenings and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Isn’t that what travelling is all about? Experiencing the very nature of what makes a country tick.
2. Observe African Wildlife in a Unique Way
The convention of an African safari is barreling across the plains in a 4×4, keeping a keen eye out for movement, but it can be such a different experience.
For a more natural, detail-oriented safari experience, walking offers the perfect opportunity.
Tread on the same dirt as the animals you seek. Wander beneath the same trees. Hear the same noises. Smell the same smells. Immerse yourself in the occasion and be a part of the experience — not just a passive observer.
It all starts with tracking the animals, so a local guide is always helpful here. Without a vehicle on your side, you have to be smart about where you look. A walking safari is less about luck and more about thought. As you search, take in the finer details normally missed; the birds in the trees, the wildflowers scattered across the ground.
Once you find the animals — the likes of rhinos, giraffes, elephants and more can be found in Swaziland — you see them in a totally natural environment. It’s just you and them out in the wilderness.
A truly wild encounter.
3. Soak Up a Rich and Diverse Culture
The people of Swaziland boast one of the richest and most vibrant cultures in Africa.
Built on the foundations of community and spiritualism, traditional Swazi culture enjoys a variety of distinctive elements, including food, dance, music and song, art, architecture, crafts, and language.
Swazi culture is welcoming of newcomers, and travellers are freely invited to join in with customs and become as involved in traditional life as they wish, especially in rural communities.
The only way to really appreciate Swazi culture is to experience it first-hand. What we can promise is that indulging this unique culture will transport you far away from the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to.
4. Support the Swazi People
As you make your way from village to village, you’ll encounter a number of unique communities. If your path takes you beyond the plains and deeper into the valleys and mountains of Swaziland, you may find villages few outside of Swaziland have ever set foot in.
Now is the time to mention that, while spoilt with beauty, Swaziland hasn’t been blessed with economic prosperity. It remains one of the poorest countries on the planet.
Wealth per capita is low and unemployment is high, with both spiking in rural areas. Visitors provide valuable economic stimulation, but most rural communities never see any. The majority of travellers will visit a lodge resort, injecting wealth into only a small portion of the population.
By walking in Swaziland, you’ll come across many communities and provide valued economic stimulation. Not through acts of charity, but fair trade for their resources — food, water, accommodation.
These communities are also excellent places to hire guides. Who else knows the area better and can take you to places rarely seen?
5. Conquer Swaziland’s Mightiest Mountains
Much of Swaziland’s western half is dominated by the Drakensberg Mountains, the highest range in the Southern continent. Of all the peaks in Swaziland, Emlembe towers above the rest at just over 6,000 feet high.
Those walking in Swaziland will find the call of the mountains hard to resist.
With foothills coated in long grass, lush gorges that run deep between rock-laced cliffs and jagged snow-crowned peaks spiralling high above the rolling landscape below, it’s not hard to see why.
6. Escape the Clutches of the Modern World
The weight of the modern world drags us all down at some point. The constant noise; the unending interconnectivity; the stress of work and bills.
Walking in Swaziland could be your escape from the modern world, with loved ones or traveling alone, if just for a short time.
Picture the scene:
After a day of exploring the local villages and watching wildlife graze across the plains, you come to rest in a small wooden hut. Lighting an old-fashioned fire, you sit around the warmth with loved ones and new friends, sharing stories. The stars glimmer in the sky above, no artificial light drowning out their beauty. All you hear is the fire cracking, the rustling of leaves and the voices of friends. No cars, no whirring electronics, nothing to pull you away.
It’s simple, and it’s perfect.
Would you add anything else? Are you planning a trip to Swaziland? Let us know in the comments below!