Here are some tips that may be helpful for you to travel to Eswatini by car:
- In Eswatini, drive on the left, as in England. At first, you feel weird thinking you’re doing it wrong all the time, but you get used to it. You will also need an international driver’s license.
- Speed limits must be respected. Watch out for the police and radars, they are usually found at speed limit changes such as at the entrances of villages where speed is drastically reduced. We found them mostly on the main roads. If they ask you to stop, never forget to smile and be kind. It usually works.
- It is necessary to wear a seat belt at all times and constantly check the condition of your vehicle. Bring spare parts and make sure to adjust the wheel pressure according to the terrain where you are. Also check your car oil and coolant often.
- Look at the type of road you are driving on and thus adapt the driving mode to it.
- Be careful if you travel in the rainy season, as when it rains some roads become impassable. In Eswatini, the rainy season is usually between November and March; and it rained on us one afternoon, and the next day the roads to Hlane Royal National Park were limited.
- Eswatini is a small, mountainous country with a large population density in large cities. Watch out for pedestrians and when driving around some of the big cities like Mbabane or Manzini, be careful and drive slowly as you will need to be aware of the large number of vehicles you will find.
- Make sure you always go with a full tank of gas or diesel. In Eswatini, you will find petrol stations that are cheaper (November 2021) than those in your neighboring South African country. Consider that his currency there has the same value as the South African rand.
- Eswatini is a country that can be easily traveled with tourism. We found a lot of South African license plate rental cars that were not 4×4. Just keep in mind that you may need to book a safari activity within the national park you are going to, such as Mkhaya Game Reserve or Hlane Royal National Park, if the roads are not in good condition at that time.
- It is important that you purchase a map of the country, along with GPS-enabled maps, as in many places there is no cell phone coverage. We worked very well with the MAPS.ME application. You can download the map by area or by country.
- When planning your route, don’t measure the stretches you want to do in kilometers, but the time they tell you it will take. Eswatini is a small country and you can cross it in the same day from north to south; and also from east to west. When we went there (November 2021), there were roads under construction that were widening to two lanes (and with some future toll built-in).
- To get to Eswatini with your own vehicle, you have to pay at the border crossing a Road Tax of 100 Rands (about 18 euros) that allows you to travel on the roads of the country. You will have to make the payment at the border crossing point, and save the receipt in case the police ask you to. You can pay in cash or by credit card.
- As for the Carnet de Passage (CoP), Eswatini is part of the South African Community (SADC). So if you come from South Africa, you don’t have to have your carnet stamped because it’s like the same country. SADC is made up of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini. We, because we had the Botswana stamp, did not stamp the carnet in either South Africa or Eswatini. We were also not asked for any vehicle insurance, even though we were insured with COMESA.