SWAZILAND 2016 & 2010
Having spend a few weeks in Swaziland during our overland travel in 2010 this time we just concentrated at the highlights. Heavy rain continued just after we left Kruger national park. Overnight stop in Nelspruit for shopping. Before heading up the mountain from Barbeton to Pigg’s Peak in Swaziland via the small border-post Josefsdal. Second gear was all the truck managed most of the time. From the Swaziland border the road disappeared and we had to follow logging tracks as the main track was being build/upgraded. By now the rain was pelting down making the tracks very slippery. (some also very steep) The terrain we crossed on the logging tracks varied from 500 meters to 1600 meters hence some long steep and slippery climbs.
The Kingdom of Swaziland a tiny country that has unique and ancient traditions. The kingdom of Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies. The king rules by decree over his million subjects, most of whom live in the countryside and follow traditional ways of life. Many Swazis work in South Africa and send their earnings home. According to UNICEF Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. The HIV-Aids virus has killed countless Swazis who have left behind thousands of orphans. Some 210,000 people, out of a population of 1.2 million, are estimated to be living with HIV.The Swazi people are a single ethnic group of several clans who are united under one monarch. Swaziland is the last country in Africa with a Monarch. 3 reasons for our visit
- Lively and colourful culture relaxed and friendly people
- Mlilwana Wild Life Sanctuary
- Hlana Royal National Park
Early start for the drive to Mlilwane Nature Reserve in Swaziland. Quite a queue at the border but both South African and Swaziland side went quickly without any hassles. (Lavumisa/Golela border post) This time we did not get our Carnet stamped so we are hoping it will be okay. Reason 1: We will be entering South Africa again. Reason 2: No one asked for the Carnet at customs or police at the Swaziland border and we gather once we leave no one cares. Reason 3: We need the 25 pages of the Carnet to get to Europe so why waste pages?
If we are wrong, I suppose we will find out at the Mozambique border. Swaziland customs has no computers so you have to fill in all your details on an A4 sheet, and in a book. The counter was full with the personal details of the 100 people in front of me for all to see and copy! I wonder just what happens to all this information and paperwork. When we were 20km past the border, we came across a police road block. They were checking for vehicle defects. However all the police were more interested in where we were from. “Australia! That is a long way, how did you get here?” One of the police officers asked. “Can the truck also be used as a boat? Wow that is great” he said with a big smile. The conversation then went something like this. “Is this your license?” (International License) “Yes,” I replied. “Is this an Australian license?” “Yes,” I replied. “It is very big.” “Yes, Australia is big.” I Said. “Are your lights working?” With another yes from me he then said, “Okay, enjoy your stay in Swaziland.” By now, there were 15 police officers trying to work out how this thing (our truck) could float. However, as always, the people are nice, friendly and helpful. As we continued we traveled through rural Swaziland. It never stops to amaze us how the women can carry 25ltr of water on their heads, or a pile of wood? We turned left just past Big Bend on our way to Mliliwane Nat Reserve in Ezulwini. This is the oldest nature reserve in Swaziland. It has a wonderful atmosphere and offers camping. At night traditional dances are organized and it has a campsite very close to the Hippo Pool, that is loaded with crocodiles! This reserve does not have the big five but zebra, warthogs and nyala’s wander freely around the campsite. I organized some good fire wood to be delivered for the huge sum of $ 3.00. That includes chopping it up. Time for a beer. For those who never camp, it may not mean much, but after a day in the bush, to sit down with the camp fire roaring, a cold beer and while in Africa, sitting and staring at wild life, IT WON’T GET ANY BETTER! We were off to the village of Mantenga where the local people allow you to visit their homes and you really get involved in local life. We learned about traditional Medicine and met the Medicine man. We travelled through the Ezulwini Valley (Valley of Heaven) and saw many villagers going about their daily life. Like in Zulu Land and also in Lesotho, the women do all the hard work.
They even carry a crate of beer on their head from the shops! This area also has many roadside markets where we did cheap shopping. Like everywhere, the place has a real buzz. In the afternoon we drove the short distance to Hlane Royal Nat Park near Simunye. After getting the camp permit we were given a mud map and were off to find the BIG 4 (no buffalo). After 3 hours and getting ourselves lost on some very rough 4X4 tracks, we had only seen impala, nyala, wildebeest, zebra and hippos. Funny enough, on the way in we saw elephants along the highway, but never stopped as we were going to photograph them in the park, so we thought. We found our camp just on dark, (thank God for our good GPS which is loaded with 4X4 Tracks for Africa), lit a fire, had dinner, counted stars and satellites and quickly, all the hassles from the afternoon were forgotten. And while I am typing this blog, we are enjoying a huge storm with lots of lighting and thunder. It has been a very hot day and the storm has cooled things down.
Most people have Swaziland on the itinerary as a flying visit or a short cut to Kruger National park, but the country deserves a longer stay.