Swaziland uses the lilangeni as its official currency. However you can also use the South African rand if you go to this country, which is certainly handy to know.
Firstly you will also hear this currency referred to as emalangeni while you are in the country. This is because this is the plural term referring to the currency, whereas the lilangeni is the singular term. It also explains why you will see the letter E in front of the currency when it is written down in numerical form, such as something priced at E25 for example.
There are several coins available and the subunit of the lilangeni is the cent. To this end you have the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. There are also three emalangeni coins – these are the 1, 2 and 5 emalangeni coins. You can also use a number of banknotes – the 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 notes.
This currency dates back to 1974. Swaziland is the only country to use it and its value is pegged to the South African rand at par (and always has been).
As you might assume, this isn’t the easiest of currencies to obtain until you get to Swaziland itself. As such your best bet for getting a currency to take in with you is the South African rand. This is easy enough to get hold of prior to travelling and of course as we know you can also use it in the country. As such you may not have any need to get the lilangeni at all.
It also means you can change back any currency you have left once you get home if need be. If you use the lilangeni and try to exchange it once you’re home you will very likely not be able to do so. Remember this and exchange whatever you can prior to leaving the country.
Using cash machines can be problematic since most of them aren’t able to accept cards from foreign countries. However traveller’s cheques are welcomed in Swaziland and you won’t have any issues finding anywhere to exchange them. So you should take in South African rand and get traveller’s cheques too, ideally in either the US dollar, the British pound or the euro. Other currencies can be accepted but these three are the easiest ones to opt for.
You can use credit cards but only in bigger outlets. For example hotels might accept them but a small local shop may well not do. As such it is a good idea to always have some cash on you and to check which methods of payment are accepted at each outlet before you decide to try and pay.
This is simple to do when you have a reliable currency converter to use. You can use the ISO code for the lilangeni to make it easier to find on a converter. Alternatively you may simply wish to find the South African rand and get a conversion for that. Since the two are identical in value this might be the best route to take. Once you know how much you can get for your own currency you’ll have an idea of how far your money will go in Swaziland.
As always it is a good idea to find out lots of information about Swaziland before you visit the country. One of the best ways you can do this is by visiting the official website for the Swaziland High Commission in London. This can be found at http://www.gov.sz. You can choose your language using the drop-down box at the top of the site as well.
So you’ve decided to travel to Swaziland – now it’s time to find out the essential safety information. Swaziland as a country is pretty safe to visit but of course you should always check the latest information prior to going. Most of the travellers who visit the country do so without experiencing any problems at all, which is good news.
Of course you should always take precautions to keep yourself safe. It is advised that any travel to rural areas should only be undertaken if you are part of a group excursion, so bear this in mind. In addition you should avoid going out at night, particularly in areas of Mbabane and Manzini.
Other than this the usual common-sense rules apply. Keep the amount of jewellery you wear to a minimum and try and divide any cash you have between different pockets. This will limit the amount you lose to a pickpocket if you do happen to be targeted by one. If you are staying in a hotel it is best to choose one that offers a secure room safe. You can use this for storing excess cash and also other items such as your passport.
Since the country also accepts the South African rand you might guess that Swaziland is pretty close to South Africa geographically. You would be right too: it shares a border with South Africa on the eastern side of the country. It is a very small country compared with South Africa, and as such it only shares a border with this and one other country Mozambique. This part of the border is the eastern side of Swaziland; the remainder of the border of the country is shared with South Africa, which wraps around it from the northern reaches right round to the south-east.
Swaziland is rather unusual in that it essentially has two capitals. Mbabane is the official capital, while Lobamba is the legislative capital. The latter is also known as the traditional capital city, so you may wish to visit both while you are in the country.
The National Museum of Swaziland is in Lobamba, as is the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This is a popular destination for many visiting Swaziland and you can actually stay here as well, since there is a good variety of accommodation available depending on the type you’re looking for.
Back in Mbabane you may want to pay a visit to an art gallery called the Indingilizi Gallery. This is the ideal place to go for a look at the fascinating world of Swazi art. Various techniques, pieces of art and other items are available to view, and they are quite fascinating to see.
The Hlane Royal National Park is also well worth a visit. This is where you get a chance to see some big game, and since the park covers 22,000 hectares there are plenty of things to see here. It’s not just lions and giraffes and the like that call this park home though. You can also see all manner of different birds, so if you are into a spot of bird-watching you can certainly do plenty of that here as well. There are two camps within the park and you can stay in either one of them. Make sure you pre-book though as they are exceptionally popular.
Elsewhere you also have the Mbuluzi Game Reserve. This is considerably smaller, at 3,000 hectares, but it still provides an amazing experience among nature. Game viewing is generally outstanding here since the reserve is home to a variety of animals. These include leopards, impala, zebra and many others besides. Once again the reserve does provide all manner of different accommodation, so consider what your budget will stretch to and what type of accommodation you want to stay in. Some are definitely more luxurious than others!
While on your travels in Swaziland do look out for the famous Swazi candles. There is a technique that has been used for many years in this country, known as millefiore. This technique is still used today to create these candles, which would make the ideal gift or souvenir to take back home. To say they are stunning is a vast understatement: you can buy pillar candles that have been carefully hand-designed and finished. You could even buy ones in shapes of animals that you might see in the wild in Swaziland. They are a real souvenir and one that has plenty of meaning within the Swazi history and culture. They are certainly one of the best things to spend your emalangeni on.
Swaziland has its own fair share of game reserves and parks, especially when you consider its size compared with other countries in this part of Africa. However this is only the beginning. The more you discover about Swaziland the more you are likely to be impressed with its culture, its history and its modern appeal to those who love travelling.
Certainly, if you are keen to see many animals in their natural habitats, you can be sure of doing just that upon your arrival in Swaziland.