Trip Report Swaziland





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  1. #1
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    Default Trip Report Swaziland

    Hi Guys.

    This is my first trip report so please excuse all the language and spelling mistakes.

    Cheers

    Andre

    Easter Weekend. Many feelings come mind. A rush to get things done, busy and dangerous roads, no availability. Those are normal phrases in my mind when it comes to Easter. But it also means, long weekend, four days off from work and more importantly, 'let's go camping!'.

    This Easter was no different. In the beginning of the year I saw the opportunity for going away during Easter was approaching fast and that I needed to act quickly. I contacted a few friends and none were available. What a disappointment. (I contacted my friends because I knew my girlfriend would be working during Easter). I soon lost interest in going away as no one could join me.

    Then, just two weeks before the Easter break my girlfriend confirmed that she was free for Easter! Fantastic! Let the planning begin. I soon realised that all the popular destinations where fully booked.

    Then, out of nowhere came an idea! What about Swaziland? Surely that can't be a popular destination for the Eater break? Then I remembered reading another trip report on Swaziland and specifically Hlane Royal National Park where people seldom book for a camping spot as there is always space available. Was that really true? We would soon find out...

    Day 1:

    Day one saw us getting up at 02:40 in the morning. As soon as my alarm went off I thought to myself, this was supposed to be a holiday. Waking up this early feels like work. But the mood was soon lightened up when we saw the 'old girl' outside hiding behind a massive cloud of morning fog with a rooftop tent and a fully loaded Engel fridge. Let's turn the key and have ourself's an adventure.

    The clock struck 03:00 and the V8 purred into life as we hit the N4. Our first stop, Kaapschehoop. The objective was to get to Kaapschehoop for some very early morning photography, preferably still with the morning fog still in the air.

    Our fog encounter came a lot quicker than we anticipated. From Bronkhorstspruit the fog was so bad we barely managed 70km/h for the next couple of kilometers. It was only after Middleburg that the road opened again and we could increase our speed.

    By the time we got to Milly's I had become so tired that it was to dangerous to carry on driving. At that time my girlfriend was so fast asleep that it would not be worth it to wake her up to continue driving. I set my alarm for a quick power nap to see if that would do the trick.

    Half an hour later and we where ready to hit the road again. By now the sun was just peaking over the horizon and we quickly grabbed a 'Seattle Coffee' and we were on our way to Kaapschehoop.

    When we got to Kaapschehoop the road was literally littered with the famous wild horses of the area. As we were there so early in the morning we were the only souls awake, giving us the perfect opportunity to wander about and get some spectacular shots of this charismatic little town.
    After spending an hour at Kaapschehoop it was time to hit the road again, our next stop would be Barberton for a proper breakfast.

    After a brilliant Wimpy breakfast we were ready to drive the mountain pass that would lead us to the Jakobsdal border post. The pass between Barberton and Swaziland forms part of the 'Genesis Route', a route that explores the geographical wonders of this fascinating area. I would recommend this mountain pass for anyone that owns a motorbike, a Ferrari 458 or something similar. The road surface is absolutely stunning and the views are something to write home about. Join that with the fact that there are no trucks on the pass and you might have one of the best driving passes in South-Africa.

    We then got to the Jakobsdal border post. Before I go into detail about the border post, I would like to contact the 'World Guinness Book of Records' for the quickest, most efficient, most friendly, most tidy and most beautiful border post in Africa. Long story short, it took us exactly 15min to get our passports stamped, check the vehicle and waved us off to Hlane. Amazing!

    It became a long but fascinating day when we drove into Hlane at around 15:30. We checked in at the main gate, swiped our Wild Card and we were of to the Ndlovo camp. As we got into the camp we could see that it was really fuller than we anticipated. We got out of the car and made our way to the counter where we were greeted by bad news. 'I'm sorry sir but the camp is fully booked'. What!! This can't be! After such a long day of driving and confirming via e-mail that it was not necessary to book for a campsite.

    I have to say we were a bit down after hearing that, but as this was Africa and more importantly Swaziland, I knew not to give up. So after asking the lady at reception really nicely and giving her my best smile she quickly went to the manager. After just one minute she came back all smiles and in true Swazi-friendliness organised us a camping spot. Brilliant!

    We quickly pitched our Rooftop tent and made our campsite pretty as we needed to get a fire going because tonight the menu consisted of some Boereworsrolls, an ice cold beer and Easter eggs for dessert.
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  3. #2
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    Day 2:

    After listening to lions for most of the night we were quite tired the following morning and decided to have a very relaxed day. The day started off with a camp tradition of ours, coffee in an enamel cup served with condensed milk. In my mind the only way to start a day in the bush.

    After our slow awakening and some coffee we decided to make ourselves a breakfast of mini cheese grillers, caramelised onions, mushrooms and toast served with an ice cold Mozambique favourite, Tipo-tinto with Raspberry.

    The breakfast was brilliant, but I soon realised I made a mistake with the R&R. It seemed like I was way to generous with the rum and that lead to us taking a nap on our ground sheet under our gazebo. We slept for about 2-3 hours, but after that much needed nap it was time for an afternoon drive.

    I just love the roads in Hlane. Unspoiled. We did not see a lot of animals, perhaps they also found a generous barman at the waterhole and made them sleep the whole day. None the less it was a pleasant drive with the odd Impala and quite a lot of Njala. We also encountered an elephant with her baby, but they were moving rather quickly, so we did not spend a lot of time with them.

    We had a quick visit to the to the bird hide after we had to rush back to camp to enjoy a sundowner at the waterhole at the camp. It was simply one of the best sunsets ever. The almost crimson light painted the perfect backdrop from where we were siting and watching the hippos in front of us. Another perfect day in Africa was ending.

    That night we had a huge fire going as the stars almost covered us like a blanket. On the menu: Marinated pork chops, Pap, Salad and another cold one in the hand.
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  4. #3
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    Talking

    Day 3:

    On day three we decided to make our way back to South-Africa via Oshoek. We left Hlane at 10:00 and made our way to Manzini and Mbabane. After a scenic drive we arrived at the glass blowing factory at Ngwenya for some lunch. It is just amazing how friendly these people are and so refreshing to see how much pride they take in their culture as well as their surroundings. Not once did we see rubbish lying around, not even in the more populated areas like Mbabane and Manzini.

    Just before the border we filled the D2's Tank with some fresh 95 octane unleaded petrol at R12.00 per liter. How cheap is that! The border at Oshoek was without incident and we were back in South-Africa and on the road for an over night place close home.

    The reason for leaving Swaziland on the Sunday was to avoid the Easter traffic back home on Monday. We don't like arriving late back home, just to go to work the following day feeling all tired. That's why we decided to look for a campsite near Waterval Boven.

    After a lot of driving around and looking for campsites on the web we soon found one right next to the N4. Not the ideal camping site as it is right next to the road, but we just needed a place to camp for the night as we will be leaving for Pretoria early the following morning.

    That night we had an early braai, with T-bone, sweetcorn and an onion in the fire. When dinner was finished we washed all the dishes, packed up as much as we could and settled in for the night.

    Day: 4

    Our last day was uneventful. We packed up, headed for Milly's for a breakfast and arrived back home in Pretoria at 10:30.

    I guess all I can say about Swaziland it that it is a generous place, that is very affordable, easy to get to, very safe and really beautiful.

    Cheers

    Andre
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  5. #4
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    Nice! Thanks for sharing. Looks like a really nice place.
    Jimny 2012 8)

  6. #5
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    Dankie en sjoe Hlane is mooi groen.
    Elize

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  7. #6
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    Thanks for sharing! Great report.
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  8. #7
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    Fourie 110 dankie vir jou terug voer en fotos ek sien nou eers die thread awsome

  9. #8
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    I have to ask, on your first day you mention a brilliant wimpy breakfast Never seen one of these on the menu ??
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  10. #9
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    Thanks for sharing Fourie.

    Hlane is a lovely place and so close to home. We camped there last year and will definitely visit again.
    NJ Vermaak

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