What currency is used and how much should i bring?
The local currency is Pula. You probably won’t be able to get any Pula outside of the country, but if you’d like to get Pula when you arrive, larger towns and cities have plenty of ATMs and bureaux de changes and banks in Botswana accept US Dollars, Pound Sterling, Euro and South African Rand in cash. If you are spending any time in Maun then plenty of restaurants or hotels accept will accept these currencies too. If you want to do any shopping the main shops will likely accept card, but smaller curio shops you might want to have cash at hand.
When you are in camp, you will not need large sums of cash on safari as our rates are all inclusive, but if you would like to book any extra activities whilst in camp, we can process card payments remotely from our main office in Maun. In camp we accept Pula, USD and Rand.
Do I need vaccinations or malaria prophylaxis?
We always recommend that you speak to your doctor or a health professional about this. Immunization requirements differ between countries and it is important to obtain up to date information on this. Malaria prophylaxis is usually recommended for travel in Botswana and it is the sole responsibility of the guests travelling to obtain these and/or any vaccinations before arrival into Botswana.
Connectivity (WiFi & cell coverage)
Mopiri – There is limited Wi-Fi access for guests at Mopiri. Cellular networks coverage is limited. For emergencies, the camp operates radios and a satellite phone.
Nokanyana – Nokanyana is fully solar powered. There is limited Wi-Fi access in the reception guest area at Nokanyana. Cellular networks coverage is very limited.
Tswii – There is no electricity source on the trail to charge camera batteries etc. There is no WiFi or cellular network on the trails.
For emergencies the managers have access to radios and a satellite phone.
What are the guidelines on tipping?
Tipping is of course entirely at your discretion and not obligatory.
You will also find guidelines in the camp room folders, and tip boxes are available in the camps.
What languages are spoken?
The official language is English and will be used by our staff and guides in the camps. The majority of people in Botswana speak Setswana which is the national language.
If you would like to practice a few key phrases from home, we have put together a short list to get you started – and feel free to ask the staff in camp, they will be delighted to help.
Hello (general) – Dumela
Hello Madam – Dumella Mma
Hello Sir – Dumela Rra
How are you? – Le kae
I am well – Re teng
Thank you – Ke a leboga
You’re welcome – Ke itumetse
Goodbye (stay well – said when staying) – Sala sentle
Goodbye (go well – said when leaving) – Tsamaya sentle
Bye/See you – Go siame
Is there drinking water?
We aim to minimise the use of single-use plastic water bottles for environmental reasons. We provide guests with Roots & Journeys branded refillable bottles. We have reverse osmosis machines in camp that produce perfectly clean drinking water.
What dietary requirements or allergies can you cater for
Our very experienced chefs are happy to cater for specific dietary requirements, provided we are informed in advance. We cater to vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc. and we make sure you don’t miss out on any of our delicious food and aren’t given a lesser option.
Our chefs relish the opportunity to try out new recipes and have fun with innovative cooking. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied with recipes such as dairy free lemon ‘cheese’cake, a tahini date fudge or dairy and gluten free blueberry coconut cake at afternoon tea. If you prefer a savoury snack, then meatless scotch egg falafels are definitely worth a try. Sometimes it is just as fun recreating classic hearty meals such as the ultimate meatless chill, mushroom wellington or an unbelievably ‘cheesy’ dairy free lasagne.
Mopiri welcomes families with children of all ages. The 3 family suites are located on a separate island, a short walk from the main guest spaces.
Note: There are no fences around Mopiri Camp.
Nokanyana welcomes families with children from the age of 6.
Note: There are no fences around Nokanyana.
We take children from 12 on the Mokoro Trails. Younger children can be allowed on request and at the discretion of management.
Mopiri – All rooms are linked to the communal guest spaces via wooden walkways. Mopiri is not suited to travellers that require a wheelchair. For less mobile travellers, we will gladly assist to make the guest’s stay as comfortable as possible. Please contact us to discuss the traveller’s requirements.
Nokanyana – Nokanyana is not suited to travellers that require a wheelchair. For less mobile travellers, we will gladly assist to make the guest’s stay as comfortable as possible. Please contact us to discuss the traveller’s requirements.
Tswii – The Tswii Trails are not suited to people with limited mobility.
Fishing available from March to December. Use our equipment or bring your own.
Please note that fishing is prohibited in January and February throughout Botswana for fish breeding purposes.
WHAT TO BRING
Firstly, it is important to remember that if you are flying between the lodges, you will be restricted to 15kg luggage in a soft bag and 5kg hand luggage. This is the requirements set by the airlines and it is necessary to make sure the luggage fits in the small planes!
It can be daunting trying to pack for your safari, but here are our top tips when thinking about packing:
- Laundry is offered at both Mopiri and Nokanyana every day, so there is no need to bring too much. Guests are often surprised by how little they end up needing in terms of clothing on safari.
- Neutral coloured clothing can be good, and it is often recommended for safari, but you don’t need a brand new wardrobe to come on safari! Most important is just to be comfortable and practical. When heading out for your activities, such as a boat trip or a safari, you’ll likely be out for a few hours, so just have something comfortable and breathable. It is mainly when doing a bush walk that it is important to not have bright coloured clothing (including white) as this is most visible to animals.
- You might want a change of clothes for the evening, but these don’t have to be fancy – our lodges are very relaxes so no need to dress up, unless you would like to.
- If travelling in the colder months (see our sections on seasons for more information on climate), you will need warm winter clothes – think warm coat/windbreaker, hat, gloves, scarf. It warms up throughout the day, so layering clothing is key.
- If travelling in the wet months, then you’ll want a lightweight rain jacket. We do provide ponchos on activities but useful to have a rain jacket for walks.
- The sun can be strong on safari, even during winter, so sun protection is important. You might want some lightweight tops with long sleeves, or just remember your sunglasses, a hat and sun cream.
- If you are interested in doing walks, whilst you won’t need heavy hiking boots, a comfy and reasonably durable pair of closed shoes is a good idea.
- In the rooms of our collection you are welcome to make use of the toiletries we provide: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soaps. All of them high quality, are eco-friendly and free from parabens, synthetics petrochemicals or artificial colours.
- We provide insect repellents in the rooms, main area and on activities.
- Personal ‘medical’ items – anything you would normally travel with. If you are inclined to allergies/hay fever you might want to bring antihistamines as the dust and grass levels can be quite high.
- Don’t forget the lodges are remote, so if you have any specific products/brands you need to use, you probably won’t be able to find them near the lodges. However, Maun (the closest town) has plenty of shops with toiletries if you forget any key items.
- Binoculars: These don’t have to be fancy, but a decent pair can be very handy.
- We provide emergency night-lights in the room. It is always useful to bring a torch with you.
- If you’re a keen photographer, don’t forget your camera cleaning gear. Botswana can be very dusty in the drier months, so it can be useful to have a simple lens pen, blower and microfibre cloth to hand to keep your camera in top shape. When out on drives it can be good to have something to cover your equipment with to help keep dust off when you are not using it.
- If travelling in the wetter months, it can be handy to have a plastic bag, waterproof bag, or any kind of covering to keep camera equipment safe if you unexpectedly get caught in the rain.
As temperatures can rise it is important to stay protected. We recommend bringing a sun hat, sunglasses and sunsreen.
There is no option for guest laundry on the trails and we restrict luggage to 10kg per person. We recommend that guests pack clothes that they can layer, to accommodate the change in temperature during the day and night and to protect against the sun.
Climate, Seasons and When to Visit?
The seasons in southern Africa are typically divided into summer and winter, or wet and dry. Of course, unique to Botswana is also the occurrence of the annual floodwaters in the Delta, which actually happens in the dry season – this can sometimes be confusing but will all explained here.
Winter - The Dry season – May – September/October
The months are generally cool, cloudless and dry with little to no rain fall. May marks the beginning of the cooler months as temperatures start to decrease. The main winter months are June, July and August and evening/night-time can be very cold. Generally, the average morning temperature is 6°C/42°F. The days always warm up and afternoons have temperatures around 25°C/78°F. Winter clothing is recommended for these months, but see our ‘what to bring’ section for more information on this. September is most comparable to spring in the Northern hemisphere – the temperatures start to rise during the night and day and it marks the transition into the hotter season.
Summer – The Wet season – October/November – April
The heat gradually builds, and October can be very hot with an average temperature of about 34°C/93°F in the afternoon, although it is still dry at this point. By November and December, clouds begin to appear and there can be occasional showers, which also cools the temperature a little. January and February are on average the wettest months and there can be torrential downpours in the afternoon, which can sometimes last for a few days. Daytime temperatures are around 32°C/90°F, and the humidity is between 50-80%. In March and April, the rainfall gradually decreases and temperatures steadily cool and by the end of April the weather should be clearer with few clouds, the nights tend to be cooler, and the days are very temperate at 30°C/87°F.
Unlike the dry season, the weather in the rainy season is much more varied and this just outlines the general trends from year to year rain patterns change, sometimes heavier rains can come earlier in the season, and sometimes later.
The Flood Season – Also the Dry Season
The floodwaters of the Okavango Delta arrive in Botswana around the start of the dry season and peak around July/August. The source of the Delta is actually found around 500km away in the Angolan highlands. During the wet season the rainfall in Angola causes the rivers to swell and the water surges into Botswana down the Okavango River. The water first moves through the ‘Panhandle’ region, which is where you can find Mopiri situated. The water then reaches a tectonic fault line which causes it to spread out. This is when the water disperses out into the myriad of channels that characterizes the Delta, this is aided by the fact the area varies in as little as 2 metres in height. This unique wetland is an oasis within the Kalahari Desert and an essential water source in the dry season, attracting one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
Then what is High/Shoulder/Low Season?
This terminology is also used, and it’s how you’ll find the seasonal rates are divided up. ‘High’ season matches up with the dry season, ‘low’ with the wet season and then ‘shoulder’ with transitionary period between these two.
So when is the best time to visit?
Botswana offers different experiences at different times of year. The best time of year might depend on what you are looking for, whether it is abundant birdlife, optimal safari conditions, or great weather.
The most popular time is during the dry season, when the Delta is in flood and the temperatures are slightly cooler. During wintertime, a lot of the foliage drops off and the grass becomes shorter, so visibility is also good for wildlife viewing. Wildlife concentrations are also higher during this time as animals congregate to the water sources.
It is important to know that if you’re looking for water-based activities that some camps are subjected to the seasonal flooding – for example in 2019 there was virtually no flooding so some camps were entirely ‘dry’. However, we are fortunate at Mopiri that we are situated on a permanent lagoon, meaning there is water all year round.
The wet season is also known as the green season (mainly towards the end of the wet season) and is also a fantastic time to visit. The foliage and vegetation becomes wonderfully lush and green. This is a beautiful time for all but the colours and light can be a photographer’s dream. If you’re an avid birder then then this time is a great opportunity to see migratory species in residence. It’s also birthing season – in December keep an eye out for young impala lambs being born as the first rains come. With the chance of seeing baby animals increased, so does some of the predator action!
Please contact us if you need any assistance with your travel plans to Maun, or any of the Roots & Journeys camps. Maun is only a 2-hour flight from Johannesburg. On landing in Maun you will be met by a member of the Roots & Journeys team.
Driving directions Johannesburg to Maun
There are a number of ways to choose from when driving from Johannesburg to Maun. Please see suggested route driving via Martins Drift border post.
Route via Martins Drift (good tar road, but border post can be busy)
- From Johannesburg drive towards Mokopane (Potgietersrus) on the N1.
- Take N11 to Martins Drift / Groblers Brug Border post – (Border closes at 22:00).
- Drive to Palapye.
- At Palapye turn left on A14 to Serowe.
- Drive on to Letlhakane – (Letlhakane is the last fuel stop before Maun).
- 12km before Orapa take left turn to Mopipi.
- Drive to Mopipi.
- Drive to Rakops.
- Drive to Motopi – after Motopi ± 3.6km turn left on A3 to Maun.
Total distance ±1100km.
Please keep a road map with you.
Please note that it is not advisable to drive at night time in Botswana due to livestock and game on or close to the road.
From Maun to Etsha 6 by road
- Head out of Maun on the Ghanzi road and drive 98kms to Sehitwa.
- At Sehitwa turn right towards Shakawe.
- Drive 170kms north until you reach Etsha 6 (25kms north of Gumare).
- Turn right into Etsha 6, and drive approximately 2km along a gravel road.
- You will find a Shell garage on the right where your guide will meet you. (PLEASE NOTE NO FUEL AVAILABLE! – We would recommend filling up in Gumare).
The drive is approximately 3 hours and 270kms. Please confirm your approximate ETA in Etsha 6 before you depart Maun.
There is secure parking in Etsha 6. The drive from Etsha 6 to Mopiri is 14kms and takes 30 minutes via Game Viewer.
MOPIRI GPS COORDINATES – 19°05’04.08”S 22°22’17.01”E
Guest arriving from Maun International Airport will be greeted by one of our team members and taken to a private welcome area before your departure to your destination.
Our team will then assist you onto your flight and contact our other team members to inform them of your arrival so they can get ready to receive you at the airstrip.
Flight time from Maun to Mopiri is just under 40 minutes, with a 5-minute boat ride to Mopiri.
Helicopter flights from Maun Airport and other destinations can be arranged on request.
From Maun to Mababe by road
- From Maun centre – take the road out of town (past Island Safari Lodge) – drive for approximately 10km until you reach a roundabout.
- At the roundabout – turn left towards Shorobe. Travel for approximately 26km, passing the University of Botswana & Sexaxa village.
- After Shorobe – The tar road turns to a sand gravel road.
- Follow the gravel road until you reach the ‘Buffalo Fence’- approximately 19km.
- Once through the ‘Buffalo Fence’, travel for approximately 1km where the road splits – take the right split towards Mababe.
- Stay on the sand road until you reach Mababe village (approximately 64km) – you will pass through Sankoyo Village on the way.
- Please contact the Roots & Journeys reservations team to confirm which road to take into camp from Mababe as this depends on the time of year.
Nokanyana is only a 5 minute drive from Mababe.
NOKANYANA GPS COORDINATES – S19 10 56” E23 59’ 16”
Guest arriving from Maun International Airport will be greeted by one of our team members and taken to a private welcome area before your departure to your destination.
Our team will then assist you onto your flight and contact our other team members to inform them of your arrival so they can get ready to receive you at the airstrip.
Flight time from Maun to Khwai Airstrip is approximately 35 minutes; with an hours drive into camp.
Great Tsau Hills
Tsau Hills is approximately 230kms from Maun Airport and takes approximately 3 and a half hours by road.
The Tswii Mokoro Trails
The Tswii Mokoro Station is located a 45-minute drive north-east of Maun. Our guide collects guests from their accommodation in Maun.
Helicopter transfers to and from the trails are also available.
Tswii Mokoro Station is a private launch site for Tswii guests exclusively.
Trails are operated north of the Buffalo Fence in NG32.
FACTS ABOUT BOTSWANA
The Tswana or Setswana people comprise the country’s largest ethnic group, accounting for 79% of the population. Other ethnicities include; the Kalanga people (11%), and the Basarwa people (3%). The remaining 7% is made up of a number of other groups. Collectively all these ethnic groups are called ‘Batswana’.
Botswana is named after the Tswana people and simply means ‘Land of the Tswana People’. Motswana is the singular form of Batswana.
English is the official language of Botswana. Setswana is the national language. There are over 20 languages spoken in Botswana. Sekalanaga spoken by the Bakalanga is the most common.
Botswana covers an area of 581,730 square kilometres, about the size of France or the state of Texas.
Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordering South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Where four countries meet
In the north west of Botswana, close to Victoria Falls, Botswana borders 3 countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia.
Botswana is known for incredible wildlife sightings and is home to the largest population of elephants and wild dogs anywhere in the world.
Around 38% of Botswana is dedicated to National Parks and wildlife management areas.
The Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. The Okavango Delta became the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.
There are two UNESCO sites in Botswana, the second being Tsodilo Hills, where over 4,500 rock paintings can be found dating back an estimated 26,000 years.
You can visit Tsodilo Hills from Mopiri
FACTS ABOUT ESWATINI
Our group sizes varies from 4-8 guests, as we believe the smaller group size will give you a quality experience.
16-day – Eswatini & Kruger
Due to risks involved with young children in the bush – especially on foot, Roots & Journeys recommends only bringing children over the age of 15 years of age on the tour. We advise that guests above the age of 65 years of age get a medical clearance from their general practitioner no earlier than two weeks prior to departure.
7-day – Eswatini
This is an ideal itinerary for families with children or young adults. A reasonable level of fitness is required, but we can easily adapt the tour to suit your family’s desired activity level. This tour is run as a private tour, which makes it easy to adapt to individual needs.
4-day Royal Rhino Experience
The minimum age for walking is 13 years old.
Should you choose the driven experience the minimum age is 10 years old.
On this tour there is no age limit, but we urge parents to be realistic about their children’s hiking abilities to make it enjoyable for all. (The terrain is rocky and strenuous in sections)
Our itineraries are hiking based, so we recommend a reasonable level of fitness. No hiking experience is required and you do not need to be an athlete to participate. We will always walk at the pace of the slowest in the group and we take lots of breaks to enjoy the stunning view this region of the world has to offer.
Where appropriate we walk to the 50:10 principle; walk 50 minutes, rest 10 minutes. Obviously, if we are ascending mountains we will rest more frequently — as much as we need.
When we go on the backpack trail in the Kruger National Park guests are expected to carry a full backpack. Our backpacks usually weigh approx. 10-15 kgs, so you must be strong enough to carry this for 4 days in the bush.
Generally, it is recommended that you do not carry more than the equivalent of 33% of your weight in a backpack, however we aim to not excess more than 25%. (For a person weighing 70 kg this equals 17,5 kg).
We provide an inclusive tour with emphasis on a high service level and a knowledgeable guide, who will join you throughout the tour. We provide everything you need to have an enjoyable tour from the moment you arrive to the moment you finish the tour.
Included: Accommodation, transfers to/from OR Tambo, transport on tour, all meals, drinks (excluding brand spirits and wines other than house wines), specified activities, guiding services, and use of necessary equipment.
Excluded: flights, insurance, single supplement, non-specified activities and pocket money for personal items.
*Included items may vary depending on tour – ask for a tour specific brochure.
Gratuity & Tipping
Basic tips are included (We tip waitresses, guides, camp hands, etc.), but if you are particularly happy with a guide or an activity you are welcome to add an additional tip.
We are not involved in booking flights, but we will give you arrival and departure times, so that you can find a flight that matches your chosen tour.
Most of our guests arrive in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa (Airport code: JNB) and take a local flight from there.
Example of flight guidance for the 16-day Eswatini & Kruger
Meet at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa (JNB)
Arrival date: dd.mm.yyyy (Day 1 on the itinerary)
Arrival time: Before 10 AM
Note: it is possible to fly directly to Eswatini on Day 1 (not included). Airport code: SHO – arrival before late afternoon.
Departure from OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa (JNB)
Departure date: dd.mm.yyyy (Day 16 on the itinerary)
Departure time: after 6PM
Note: it is possible to fly from Hoedspruit’s Eastgate airport to Johannesburg on Day 16 (not included). Airport code: HDS – departure late afternoon.
Comprehensive travel insurance is a prerequisite for joining Roots & Journeys’ itineraries (We will need a copy prior to tour departure). Roots & Journeys also recommends a cancellation insurance in case the traveller has unforeseen events happen that prevent participation in the tour. It is the personal responsibility of the guest to acquire suitable insurance. Please read through our Terms and Conditions.
Credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard are accepted by most ATMs, so there is no need to exchange money from home. Roots & Journeys recommend withdrawing money upon arrival in Johannesburg airport. (All essentials are already paid for from home, so you only need spare cash for souvenirs, gifts, and anything of a personal nature).
The currency in South Africa is called Rand (Currency code: ZAR) The Rand notes (10, 20, 50, 100 and 200) are also accepted in Eswatini (Rand coins are not accepted in Eswatini).
The Eswatini currency is called the Lilangeni (Emalangeni in plural) – the currency is only used in Eswatini and not accepted in South Africa, although it is on a par with the Rand.
Climate and Weather
Eswatini’s climate varies from sub-tropical/tropical in the East to temperate in the West due to difference in altitude. Summer months are hot and humid (December is midsummer), whereas as winter months are cool and dry (June is midwinter). Rainfall is generally expected during thunderstorms in midsummer with an annual rainfall of 500-900 mm/year (in the East and Low veld) to 1000-2000mm/year (in the West and Highveld).
Kruger National Park
The climate is similar to Eswatini’s low veld, with an approx. annual rainfall of 555mm. In the wet season (midsummer) an average 7 days of rain/month is expected – usually in thunderous afternoon downpours. Winter months are dry and cool.
Dry Season/ Winter (May-September)
Average morning Temp
Average afternoon Temp
Wet Season/ Summer (October-April)
When to go?
In Southern Africa our seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, however we usually divide our seasons into the rainy season (summer months) and the dry season (winter months).
October/November to February/March
The rainy season, which is also the hotter season, begins around October and lasts until February/March, the rest of the year is fairly dry. The wet summer months can be hot and humid, however it rarely rains whole days, usually in thunderous showers in the afternoon. In summer the bush is lush and green with lots of bird activity.
April/May to August/September
Winter months can be very cold at night, but the days are usually warm and comfortable. Game viewing is better in winter, as the bush has lost its foliage and you see animals more easily, but many of the migrant birds will have left the region at this time.
Our 16-day tour is based in winter months, as the cooler winter weather makes hiking more pleasurable.
What to pack?
Roots & Journeys provide all the gear you need for the wilderness trails and other itineraries where equipment is needed – we have got fully equipped, quality hiking backpacks, tents, and crockery. We provide a water bladder (also known as a camel pack) that you can use on hikes. You can also borrow one of our hiking poles (we have 1/person available).
What you need to bring:
- Small backpack for day tours (should be light and comfortable for carrying essentials for day tours; sufficient water & snacks (which we will provide), sun cream, camera, sunhat, scarf, etc.)
- Hiking socks + normal socks
- Underwear (consider thermals for winter nights)
- Sunhat (Preferably wide brimmed)
- Warm hat/ Beanie (for winter)
- Warm jersey (fleece or soft shell)
- Windproof jacket (for winter)
- Light windproof rain jacket or poncho (primarily summer)
- COMFORTABLE hiking shoes/hiking boots (Comfortable shoes or boots are the most important item on the list. We will be hiking many kilometres, so your footwear can make or break this holiday – be sure to bring footwear that you know and trust to be comfortable for longer periods of time, i.e. breaking in your brand new shoes is not a great idea. Our guides usually wear fairly open shoes when hiking, but hiking boots with more ankle support are generally a good idea.
- Spare laces
- Sandals for leisure and nights on trail
- Gaiters (non-essential, but protects against grass seeds in the late summer months)
- Gloves/mittens (essential for winter nights)
- Clothes should be comfortable and suited for the time of year (remember winter gets very cold at night in these parts – bring a sweater and warm socks; In summer a rain poncho or light waterproof jacket is a good idea). As we will be hiking in the natural environment, we recommend neutral coloured clothes (Grey, khaki, subtle greens, greys, browns are perfect). ‘Whites and brights’ can attract unwanted attention from certain animals, and should thus be avoided.
- Short and long-sleeved shirts (Lightweight, moisture management fabric, neutral colours)
- Zip-off trousers (lightweight, moisture management fabric, neutral colours)
- Bathing costume
- Sun cream
- Personal medicine
- Antiseptic cream, antihistamines, painkillers, anti-diarrhoea medication, anti-inflammatories, eye drops, muscle relaxing cream, blister treatment/Band-Aids
- Emergency contact details + insurance details
- Money (credit cards will do – you don’t need to exchange from home)
- Vaccination certificates (consult with your doctor)
- Electronics and their chargers
- Camera, charger/spare batteries
- Binoculars (optional)
Reception is generally good in the civilized parts of Southern Africa – and generally non-existent in the rural and natural areas. In Eswatini we have two network providers, MTN Eswatini and Eswatini Mobile – check with your mobile phone provider if you can get reception here (Some work and others do not).
In South Africa most foreign networks are recognized, but in the Kruger area reception is non-existent outside the main camps. Be prepared to be off the grid, while we are on trail in the Kruger National Park for 5 days.
Animals: Southern Africa is home to both venomous and dangerous animals. As we spend most of our activities in the wild, we are likely to come across some of these. If you follow a few precautions and guidelines – which we will carefully go through on arrival – there is absolutely nothing to fear!
Roots & Journeys’ lead guide has got an updated first aid certificate and has experience with snakes and venom treatment, so should disaster strike you are in safe hands. When we walk in big game areas we are always in the presence of an armed ranger, who knows how to deal with situations in the bush.
Crime: South Africa has a bad reputation when it comes to crime, however we will not be visiting dangerous areas. The Kruger National Park region is considered safe. Eswatini is a peaceful country with very little crime compared to its two neighbours, South Africa and Mozambique. Regardless of where you are, Roots & Journeys recommends that you never carry or display things that you are not willing to loose. As in all parts of the world, certain people can be tempted by flashy jewellery or the latest smart phone – keep your valuables safe.
Malaria: Eswatini is considered malaria FREE, whereas the Northern part of Kruger is a risk area during the rainy season (Always consult with your doctor, before departure)
Tuberculosis: Unfortunately, many local Swazis die from this both preventable and curable disease every year. Talk to your GP regarding a vaccination. Contracting this disease is not considered a risk on Roots & Journeys’ itineraries, as it is transferred through prolonged exposure to people carrying the disease.
HIV/aids: Eswatini is suffering under the HIV/aids epidemic – it’s considered that as many as 25-35% of the population are affected. The disease is incurable, but can be prevented by eliminating contact with fluids from a carrier of the disease. This is not a risk on Roots & Journeys’ itineraries.
Ebola: Eswatini and South Africa are NOT affected.
We are based in the heart of the beautiful kingdom of Eswatini and most of our itineraries begin here. Southern Africa is a region consisting of a multitude of different cultures, climates and distinguishing factors – too much information to share on this one website. Below you will find some highlights.
Eswatini is a miniature landlocked kingdom in Sothern Africa ruled by the absolute Monarch, King Mswati III. Eswatini gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1968. There is a functioning parliament with an acting prime minister. In April 2018 King Mswati III proclaimed a new name for the kingdom. Formerly known as Swaziland, the country is now called The Kingdom of Eswatini, or just Eswatini. (You can also see it written as: eSwatini, which is actually the correct spelling).
Eswatini is highly dependent on South Africa for the majority of its imported goods (90%), likewise 60% of the country’s export goes to South Africa. The major export goods are sugar and soft drink concentrate, whereas motor vehicles, foodstuff and petroleum products are imported. The Swazi currency, Lilangeni, is pegged to the South African Rand.
Eswatini is situated in Southern Africa, 26 30 S, 31 30 E. The country is completely landlocked and shares its borders with South Africa to the North, West and South, and with Mozambique to the East. With an area of just 17,364 sq. km it is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The topography of the country is diverse with high cool and wet mountains that run from North to South in the Western part of the country, whereas the Eastern part of the country is dominated by hot and dry lowland. The highest point is Emlembe at 1,862 metres (6109 feet), and the lowest point is the Great Usutu River, 21 metres (69 feet). The climate varies from tropic in the Lowveld to near temperate in the Highveld.
Eswatini is rich in natural resources: asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite (the main ore of tin), hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone and talc. There are a few concerns regarding the environment as wildlife populations historically have been and are continually being depleted due to excess hunting, overgrazing, soil degradation and soil erosion. Eswatini was never influenced by the apartheid regime in South Africa, and consists of one people (one tribe, namely the emaSwatis). 97% of the population are emaSwati, whereas the rest are considered of either European or other decent. The emaSwatis are a peaceful people in a generally troublesome region of the world. The crime rate is very low compared to South Africa and Mozambique.
There are two official languages, English and SiSwati, and a literacy rate of 87.8%. Life expectancy is low, 50 years, due to the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world, 26.5%; an epidemic that has left many children orphans.
1,136,000 people live in Eswatini (2018). 20% of the population lives in urban areas, mainly in the capital, Mbabane, and the one other large city, Manzini. The unemployment rate is 40% and 70% of the people are considered to live of subsistence farming. 69% of the population lives under the poverty line.
Eswatini is a hiker’s paradise. Tall picturesque mountains dominate the West, whereas rough bush teeming with wildlife is characteristic of the East. Most of the reserves in Eswatini are safe to walk in due to lack of big game.
South Africa & Kruger National Park
South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise. The country has it all; bush, beach, mountains, plains, desert etc. Every time we venture out into the wilderness we experience something new, something exciting or something that just makes us fall even further in love with this remarkable region. In South Africa we focus on the famous Kruger National Park, where wildlife has roamed for centuries. Here it is possible to see many of the iconic animals that people know and love from Africa, such as large herds of elephants, prides of lions, tall giraffes browsing flat-topped trees and much more. We explore the region traditionally explored by vehicle and on foot. We will take the time to get to know the bush, including its sounds, tracks and smells.
Roots & Journeys recommend that you speak to a travel doctor with regards to vaccinations required prior to departure.
Most countries get a three-month visa on arrival in South Africa and a one-month visa on arrival in Eswatini (This goes for most Europeans nationals – check with your foreign affairs department, embassy or consulate). It is the guest’s own responsibility to have the appropriate visa upon arrival.