Travel Safety and Advisories for Eswatini

1. What are the current safety and security conditions in Eswatini for travelers?

Travelers in Eswatini should be aware of the current safety and security conditions in the country. Eswatini is generally considered safe for tourists, however, like any destination, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:

1. Crime: Petty crime such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft from vehicles can occur, especially in urban areas and tourist hotspots. Travelers should remain vigilant, keep valuables secure, and avoid displaying wealth in public.

2. Protests: Eswatini has seen periodic protests and demonstrations in recent years, usually related to political or socio-economic issues. Travelers should avoid large gatherings, protests, and political rallies, as these can sometimes turn violent.

3. Road Safety: Road conditions in Eswatini can vary, and accidents are common due to poor road maintenance and reckless driving. Travelers should exercise caution when driving or using public transportation and consider hiring a reputable local driver if needed.

4. Health: It’s important for travelers to ensure they are up to date on routine vaccinations and seek medical advice on necessary precautions for diseases such as malaria and water-borne illnesses.

Overall, with proper precautions and awareness of the local conditions, travelers can have a safe and enjoyable experience in Eswatini.

2. Are there any specific regions or areas in Eswatini that travelers should avoid due to safety concerns?

Travelers in Eswatini should exercise caution, particularly in the border areas with South Africa and Mozambique, due to the potential for criminal activity and irregular border crossings. It is advisable to avoid isolated areas and informal border crossings to minimize the risk of encountering any security issues. Additionally, travelers should be cautious in urban areas such as Manzini and Mbabane, especially at night, due to the possibility of petty crimes like pickpocketing or theft. It is recommended to stay alert, avoid displaying valuable items, and be vigilant of your surroundings in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience in Eswatini.

3. What are the common types of crimes faced by tourists in Eswatini?

Tourists in Eswatini may face certain common types of crimes, as in many other destinations worldwide. These can include:

1. Petty theft: Tourists are often targeted for petty crimes such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft of valuables left unattended in public areas.
2. Scams: Tourists may encounter scams involving overcharging for goods or services, fake tour operators, or other fraudulent schemes.
3. Car break-ins: Theft from vehicles is a common issue in certain areas, so it is important for tourists to not leave any valuables visible inside cars.
4. Robberies: While violent crimes are relatively rare, tourists can sometimes be targeted for robberies, particularly in isolated areas or at night.

To mitigate the risk of falling victim to these crimes, tourists should take precautions such as being vigilant of their surroundings, not displaying valuable items openly, using reputable tour operators, and avoiding walking alone in dimly lit or unfamiliar areas. It is also advisable to stay informed about current safety advisories and to follow local laws and customs to stay safe while traveling in Eswatini.

4. Are there any health risks or diseases that travelers should be aware of in Eswatini?

1. Travelers visiting Eswatini should be aware of certain health risks and diseases that are prevalent in the country. Malaria is a significant concern in Eswatini, especially during the rainy season from October to May. Travelers are advised to take antimalarial medication, use insect repellent, and sleep under mosquito nets to prevent mosquito bites.
2. Another health risk in Eswatini is HIV/AIDS, as the country has one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. Travelers should take necessary precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV, such as practicing safe sex and avoiding sharing needles or other sharp objects.
3. Waterborne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, can also be a risk in Eswatini. Travelers should drink bottled or boiled water, avoid consuming raw or undercooked foods, and practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses.
4. It is advisable for travelers to consult with a healthcare provider or travel medicine specialist before their trip to Eswatini to receive up-to-date information on recommended vaccinations and health precautions. Additionally, travelers should have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies while in the country. By being informed about these health risks and taking appropriate precautions, travelers can help ensure a safe and healthy trip to Eswatini.

5. How reliable are the local emergency services and medical facilities in Eswatini?

In Eswatini, the local emergency services and medical facilities vary in reliability depending on the location and resources available. In general, the emergency services in urban areas such as Mbabane and Manzini are relatively more reliable compared to rural areas. These services are typically provided by the Royal Eswatini Police and emergency medical services. However, response times may vary and medical facilities in some areas may not have the same level of equipment and expertise as in more urban centers.

1. It is recommended to have travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation in case of emergencies.
2. In remote areas, it may be difficult to access timely medical care, so travelers should be prepared and take precautions in advance.
3. It is advisable to have a list of local hospitals and clinics, as well as contact information for emergency services, readily available.
4. Language barriers may also pose a challenge when seeking medical assistance, so having a translator or a local guide can be helpful in communicating with healthcare providers.
5. Overall, while the local emergency services and medical facilities in Eswatini may not be as advanced as in some other countries, they can still provide adequate care in many situations.

6. Are there any cultural or religious customs travelers should be aware of to ensure safety and respect while visiting Eswatini?

Yes, there are several cultural and religious customs that travelers should be aware of while visiting Eswatini to ensure their safety and show respect towards the local community:

1. Respect for the King and Royal Family: The reigning monarch, King Mswati III, and the royal family are highly revered in Eswatini. It is important for visitors to show respect towards the monarchy and avoid any disrespectful gestures or conversations about the royal family.

2. Greeting Customs: Greetings are an important part of Swazi culture. It is customary to greet people with a handshake, particularly with elders, using the right hand. It is also polite to use appropriate greetings depending on the time of day, such as “Sawubona” (hello) or “Sala kahle” (stay well).

3. Dress Code: Modesty in dress is important in Swazi culture, particularly in rural areas and when visiting religious sites. It is advisable to dress conservatively by covering shoulders and knees, especially when visiting traditional events or places of worship.

4. Respecting Traditional Beliefs: Many Swazis adhere to traditional belief systems alongside Christianity. It is important for travelers to show respect towards these beliefs, such as refraining from taking photographs without permission at sacred sites or during traditional ceremonies.

5. Food Customs: Sharing meals is a common practice in Eswatini, and guests are often offered food and drinks as a sign of hospitality. It is polite to accept these offerings and show gratitude towards the host.

6. Social Hierarchies: Swazi society is hierarchical, with age, gender, and social status playing important roles. Visitors should be mindful of these hierarchies in their interactions with locals, particularly when speaking to elders or individuals in positions of authority.

By being aware of and respecting these cultural and religious customs, travelers can ensure their safety and show consideration towards the people of Eswatini during their visit.

7. What are the recommended safety precautions for solo travelers in Eswatini?

Solo travelers in Eswatini are encouraged to take certain safety precautions to ensure a smooth and secure trip. Here are some recommended safety measures:

1. Research the destination thoroughly before your trip to understand the local customs, culture, and potential safety risks.

2. Keep a copy of your important documents, such as passport and travel insurance information, both on paper and digitally.

3. Stay in reputable accommodations that have good reviews and security measures in place.

4. Avoid walking alone at night, particularly in isolated areas, and be cautious of your surroundings at all times.

5. Use reliable transportation options, such as reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing services, especially when traveling at night.

6. Trust your instincts and avoid risky situations or interactions that make you feel uncomfortable.

7. Stay connected with friends or family back home and regularly update them on your whereabouts.

By following these safety precautions and staying vigilant during your solo travels in Eswatini, you can help minimize risks and enjoy a safe and memorable experience in the country.

8. Are there any natural disasters or weather-related risks that travelers should be prepared for in Eswatini?

Yes, travelers to Eswatini should be aware of certain natural disasters and weather-related risks that they may encounter. These include:

1. Heavy Rainfall: Eswatini experiences heavy rains during the wet season, which typically occurs from November to April. This can result in flash floods, landslides, and road closures, making travel difficult and dangerous.

2. Drought: Eswatini also faces periods of drought, particularly during the dry season from May to October. This can lead to water shortages, crop failures, and impacts on local communities.

3. Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms are common in Eswatini, particularly during the summer months. These storms can bring strong winds, lightning, and heavy rainfall, posing risks to travelers, especially if they are caught outdoors.

4. Wildfires: In some parts of Eswatini, especially in rural areas, wildfires can occur during the dry season. These fires can spread quickly and pose a threat to both property and personal safety.

Travelers to Eswatini should stay informed about weather conditions, follow local news and advisories, and take necessary precautions such as having emergency supplies, staying away from flooded areas, and avoiding outdoor activities during thunderstorms. It’s also advisable to have a communication plan in place in case of emergencies and to register with your embassy or consulate while traveling in Eswatini.

9. How safe is public transportation for tourists in Eswatini?

Public transportation in Eswatini is generally safe for tourists to use. However, it is important to be aware of certain factors to ensure a smooth and secure experience. Here are some key points to consider:

1.Mini-buses: One of the most common forms of public transportation in Eswatini is mini-buses, known locally as “kombis. These are shared vans that operate along set routes. While they can be a convenient way to get around, tourists should exercise caution when using mini-buses, as they can often be overcrowded and drivers may drive recklessly.

2.Safety precautions: It is recommended to only use reputable mini-bus services and avoid overcrowded vehicles. Keep your belongings secure at all times and be cautious of pickpockets. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid traveling alone at night and to be vigilant of your surroundings.

3.Taxis: Taxis are another popular mode of transportation in Eswatini. It is generally safe to use licensed taxis, which can be found at designated taxi ranks or arranged through your accommodation. Make sure to agree on a fare before starting your journey to avoid any disputes.

4.Road conditions: While public transportation in Eswatini is considered safe, the road conditions in the country can vary, especially in rural areas. It is important to be prepared for bumpy roads and occasional delays due to poor infrastructure.

Overall, public transportation in Eswatini can be a convenient and cost-effective way for tourists to get around the country. By taking necessary precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you can safely enjoy your travels in Eswatini.

10. Are there any specific safety tips for LGBTQ+ travelers visiting Eswatini?

For LGBTQ+ travelers visiting Eswatini, it is important to be aware of the cultural and legal context regarding LGBTQ+ rights in the country. While homosexuality is not specifically criminalized in Eswatini, it is not widely accepted, and LGBTQ+ individuals may face discrimination and social stigma. To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit, here are some specific safety tips:

1. Research local attitudes and laws: Before traveling to Eswatini, it is essential to understand the cultural attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals and the current legal situation. This can help you assess potential risks and plan accordingly.

2. Exercise discretion: While it is important to be true to yourself, exercising discretion about your sexual orientation or gender identity in public settings may help avoid unwanted attention or discrimination.

3. Choose accommodation wisely: Opt for LGBTQ+-friendly accommodations or establishments where you feel comfortable being yourself. Research LGBTQ+-friendly spaces in advance.

4. Connect with local LGBTQ+ community: Reach out to local LGBTQ+ organizations or individuals for support, advice, and insights on safety tips specific to Eswatini.

5. Keep a low profile on social media: Be cautious about sharing personal details or information about your LGBTQ+ identity on social media platforms while in Eswatini to avoid unwanted attention.

6. Trust your instincts: If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. It is always better to prioritize your safety and well-being.

Overall, by being informed, cautious, and respectful of local customs and laws, LGBTQ+ travelers can have a safe and enriching experience in Eswatini.

11. What is the best way for travelers to stay updated on any travel advisories or safety alerts for Eswatini?

The best way for travelers to stay updated on any travel advisories or safety alerts for Eswatini is to regularly check official government sources such as the website of the US Department of State or the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which provide up-to-date information on travel advisories for different countries, including Eswatini. Additionally, travelers can sign up for travel alerts and notifications from their respective embassies or consulates in Eswatini to receive real-time updates on any safety concerns or emergencies in the country. It is also recommended to monitor local news sources and regional security updates for any developments that may impact travel safety in Eswatini. Furthermore, engaging with reputable travel forums or online communities can provide valuable insights and firsthand experiences from fellow travelers who have recently visited Eswatini.

12. Are there any specific scams or fraud schemes that tourists should be cautious of in Eswatini?

Tourists visiting Eswatini should be cautious of a few specific scams and fraud schemes to ensure their safety and security during their travels. Some prevalent scams to be wary of in Eswatini include:

1. Helpful” strangers offering to exchange your currency: Be cautious of individuals offering to help you exchange your currency at a better rate, as they may give you counterfeit money in return.

2. Fake tour guides or taxi drivers: Always ensure you are using licensed and reputable tour guides and taxi services to avoid being overcharged or taken advantage of.

3. Pickpocketing and distraction techniques: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid crowded areas where pickpocketing may occur. Thieves may also use distractions like groups of children to divert your attention while they steal your belongings.

4. Fake charity and donation scams: Avoid giving money to individuals claiming to represent charitable organizations without verifying their legitimacy. It’s best to donate through recognized NGOs or directly to reputable organizations.

By staying vigilant and being aware of these potential scams, tourists can better protect themselves and ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Eswatini.

13. How prevalent is petty theft, pickpocketing, or bag snatching in tourist areas of Eswatini?

Petty theft, pickpocketing, and bag snatching can occur in tourist areas of Eswatini, as in many popular travel destinations around the world. While Eswatini is generally considered safe for tourists, it is essential to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of these crimes. Some tips to help protect yourself from petty theft in tourist areas of Eswatini include:

1. Keep your belongings secure and never leave them unattended.
2. Use a money belt or hidden pouch to carry your valuables.
3. Avoid displaying large sums of money or valuable items in public.
4. Be cautious of crowded places where pickpockets may operate.
5. Stay aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts if something feels off.
6. Consider using a travel lock on your luggage or backpack.
7. If you are approached by strangers acting suspiciously, create distance and seek assistance if needed.

By staying alert and taking these precautions, travelers can minimize the chances of falling victim to petty theft, pickpocketing, or bag snatching while exploring tourist areas in Eswatini.

14. Are there any recommended travel insurance providers or policies for travelers visiting Eswatini?

When traveling to Eswatini, it is highly recommended to purchase comprehensive travel insurance to ensure you are adequately covered in case of any unforeseen events. Some of the recommended travel insurance providers that offer good coverage for travelers visiting Eswatini include:

1. World Nomads: World Nomads is a popular choice for travelers seeking flexible and comprehensive travel insurance coverage. They offer plans that include emergency medical coverage, trip cancellation, and coverage for various adventure activities.

2. Allianz Global Assistance: Allianz Global Assistance provides travel insurance plans that cover emergency medical expenses, trip interruption, and baggage loss or delay. They also offer 24/7 assistance services for travelers in need of help during their trip.

3. TravelGuard: TravelGuard offers a range of travel insurance plans for different types of travelers, including coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellation, and travel delays. They also provide assistance services to help travelers in emergencies.

It is important to carefully review the coverage details, policy limits, and exclusions of each insurance provider before choosing a policy that best suits your needs while traveling in Eswatini. Additionally, ensure that your travel insurance includes coverage for activities you plan to participate in and consider purchasing a policy that covers potential risks specific to Eswatini.

15. What should travelers do in case of an emergency or crisis situation while in Eswatini?

If travelers find themselves in an emergency or crisis situation while in Eswatini, it is important for them to remain calm and follow the necessary steps to ensure their safety and well-being:

1. Contact the local authorities: In case of a medical emergency, contact emergency medical services by dialing 977. For other types of emergencies, dial 999 to reach the police.

2. Reach out to your country’s embassy or consulate: If you are a foreign traveler, contact your country’s embassy or consulate for assistance and guidance during the crisis.

3. Follow any instructions or safety advice provided by local authorities: Stay informed about the situation and follow any instructions given by the local authorities to stay safe.

4. Keep in touch with family and friends: Inform your loved ones about your situation and whereabouts to keep them updated and seek their support if needed.

5. Stay indoors if necessary: In some crisis situations, it may be safer to stay indoors until the situation is resolved. Avoid areas of unrest or danger.

6. Have emergency contacts readily available: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities, embassy/consulate, and emergency services, handy in case you need to reach out to them quickly.

7. Stay informed: Monitor local news and official sources for updates on the situation and follow any travel advisories or warnings issued by your home country’s government regarding travel to Eswatini.

By following these steps and taking appropriate precautions, travelers can navigate emergency or crisis situations in Eswatini effectively and prioritize their safety and well-being.

16. Are there any specific safety considerations for female travelers visiting Eswatini?

Female travelers visiting Eswatini should take certain safety considerations into account to ensure a smooth and secure trip:

1. Dress modestly: Eswatini is a conservative country, and it is important for female travelers to dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention. Wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders and knees is recommended.
2. Respect local customs: It is essential to be aware of and respect the local customs and traditions of Eswatini. This includes being mindful of interacting with the opposite gender and following cultural norms.
3. Avoid walking alone at night: As with many destinations, it is advisable for female travelers to avoid walking alone at night in Eswatini. Opt for well-lit and populated areas or travel with a trusted companion.
4. Stay vigilant in crowded areas: Be cautious in crowded areas such as markets and public transport where petty theft can occur. Keep valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
5. Research accommodation options: Choose reputable and secure accommodation options in safe neighborhoods to ensure a comfortable stay. Consider staying in hotels with good security measures in place.
6. Use reputable transportation: When traveling around Eswatini, opt for reputable transportation options such as licensed taxis or reputable car hire services. Avoid hitchhiking or accepting rides from strangers.
7. Keep emergency contacts handy: It is advisable for female travelers to keep a list of emergency contacts, including the local authorities and embassy, readily available in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

By being mindful of these safety considerations and taking necessary precautions, female travelers can have a positive and safe experience during their visit to Eswatini.

17. Are there any legal or regulatory differences that travelers should be aware of in Eswatini compared to their home country?

Yes, travelers to Eswatini should be aware of certain legal and regulatory differences compared to their home country. Some key points to consider include:

1. Driving Regulations: In Eswatini, traffic drives on the left side of the road, which may be different from some travelers’ home countries where driving on the right side is the norm. It is important for visitors to familiarize themselves with local driving regulations and road signs to ensure safe travel.

2. Alcohol Restrictions: Eswatini has strict laws regarding alcohol consumption and driving under the influence. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit is lower than in some other countries, so travelers should be cautious about drinking and driving.

3. Cultural Sensitivities: Eswatini has a rich cultural heritage, and it is important for visitors to respect local customs and traditions. This includes dressing modestly in public places, especially in rural areas, and being mindful of local customs when interacting with the Swazi people.

4. Wildlife Laws: Eswatini is home to diverse wildlife, including protected species such as rhinos and elephants. Travelers should be aware of laws and regulations related to wildlife conservation and avoid supporting illegal wildlife trade.

5. Health Regulations: It is recommended that travelers consult with their healthcare provider regarding necessary vaccinations and health precautions before visiting Eswatini, as there may be specific health risks in the region that differ from their home country.

By being aware of these legal and regulatory differences, travelers can ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Eswatini while respecting local laws and customs.

18. Are there any restrictions or guidelines for photography or drone usage in Eswatini?

In Eswatini, there are certain restrictions and guidelines in place for photography and drone usage to ensure the privacy and safety of individuals as well as to respect local customs and laws. As a traveler, it is important to be aware of these regulations to avoid any legal issues or conflicts.

1. When photographing locals, always ask for their permission before taking a picture to respect their privacy and cultural sensitivities.
2. Avoid taking photos of sensitive areas such as government buildings, military installations, airports, or borders, as this may be prohibited and could lead to legal consequences.
3. Drone usage is regulated in Eswatini, and flying a drone without the necessary permits and permissions is illegal. It is advisable to check with the relevant authorities or government agencies to obtain the required permits before operating a drone in the country.
4. Be mindful of the local customs and traditions when taking photos in rural or cultural areas. Always be respectful and considerate of the communities you are visiting.
5. It is recommended to familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations regarding photography and drone usage in Eswatini to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience during your visit.

19. What are the local laws and regulations around alcohol and substance use in Eswatini for tourists?

In Eswatini, there are specific laws and regulations regarding alcohol and substance use that tourists should be aware of to ensure their safety and compliance with local rules. Here are some important points to note:

1. The legal drinking age in Eswatini is 18 years old. Tourists should carry identification to prove their age when purchasing alcohol.
2. Drinking alcohol in public places is prohibited, and individuals caught doing so may face fines or other legal consequences.
3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly enforced, and severe penalties, including fines and possible imprisonment, are imposed for offenders.
4. Marijuana and other recreational drugs are illegal in Eswatini, and possession, use, or trafficking of these substances can lead to arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment.
5. It’s important for tourists to respect local customs and traditions regarding alcohol consumption, as excessive drinking or inappropriate behavior while under the influence may lead to negative interactions with locals or authorities.
6. Tourists should also be cautious when purchasing alcohol from unofficial vendors or establishments to avoid counterfeit or unsafe products that could pose health risks.

Overall, tourists should familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs surrounding alcohol and substance use in Eswatini to have a safe and enjoyable visit while respecting the regulations of the country.

20. Are there any specific cultural events or festivals in Eswatini that travelers should be cautious or respectful of for safety reasons?

Travelers visiting Eswatini should be aware of the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance ceremony, which is a major cultural event in the country. During this celebration, young Swazi women participate in a procession to gather reeds for the queen mother. It is important for visitors to be respectful of the cultural significance of this event and to follow the rules and etiquettes set by the Swazi authorities. Additionally, travelers should exercise caution and be mindful of their belongings, as large crowds are common during the festival, which could potentially lead to pickpocketing or other security concerns. It is recommended to follow the guidance of local authorities and to stay informed of any potential safety risks during this time.

1. Stay informed about the designated areas for visitors to observe the Umhlanga Reed Dance ceremony safely.
2. Respect the cultural traditions and customs of the Swazi people during the festival.