Published: December 20th 2009December 19th 2009
Swazi Roadside Cows
They own the road as much as we do!
We split the day between Kruger in the morning and Swaziland in the afternoon. Myths abound regarding Swaziland, so I will place information on here that I think is the best characterization of how things are.
There is just not much happening in Swaziland. It is a mountainous country, at least in the west end. The country's real claim to fame is that at LEAST 30% of the population has HIV. "At least" because that is the percentage of the sample of the million population that has been identified as such but it is likely the number is much higher.
The African Experience
Ah yes, people walking on the highway, people wearing random items of clothing, but nothing beats the African bureaucrat. We got our taste, without issue, at the Kingdom of Swaziland's Jeppe's Reef border entry. Hot and sweaty, people piled in, milling here and there in this little office, a look of complete disconnection for the immigration officer and customs officer. They didn't play any games as you might expect but we did have to pay a 50 Rand Road Improvement Fee, because the King, in his infinite gracefulness would not stoop so low as just
If not for a heavy lumber industry, this country would be a paradise.
take a visa fee to rip tourists off. So . . . how were the roads? Not that bad actually, except for the last 10 kilometers up to Mhlambanyatsi. It's a mouthful, I know, I STILL cannot remember the full name, and I am usually pretty good at that. But Mhlambanyatsi is a high altitude town, maybe even "alpine" as Africa goes.
We drove down a good portion of the country's western half yesterday after crossing the Jeppe's Reef Border Post. You'd better be on time because these Border Posts maintain hours and are closed at night - impossible to get into the country! On our way we passed through Pigg's Peak and Mbabane. The first is known for its casino, not impressive at all, and for the craft merchants along the road - we did not realize this was a tourist attraction until after we had read our guide later on. Whoever stops to buy that junk is crazy in my opinion. There are throngs of people and cows walking along the main road, sorry wish I had taken pictures, but it is hard enough to find a good place to stop on the roadside, and probably not
You could think you were in Scotland sometimes.
all that advisable to do it near people while taking pictures of them. I've never started a riot but that might be a good way.
Mbabane is a topographically interesting city, not that large of a capital city, but to be expected when the Kingdom's population is only 1 million. We did not detour into the city center but got a flavor from the highway.
Mhlambanyatsi and Foresters Arms Hotel
Like the rest of the country, neither are much to look at but Mhlambanyatsi has an alpine feel to it when compared to the lower areas. There is also a more rarefied air that comes with that and you do not have the throngs of people on the roads. Foresters Arms is a comfortable hotel, definitely a throwback place, coming about when the Kingdom fist gained independence from Britain in the late '60's. The room was updated but I think overpriced for what we paid. The rate does include a much touted nine course dinner which we skipped as we were still recovering from jet lag and the long drive. Breakfast was not bad this morning, I was pretty hungry since I had not eaten since the
Industry is not obvious is Swaziland, but this one is. There are massive sawmills off the highway and fresh cuttings and plantings of trees. The mountains are not excessively bare, but the fact that the tall pines are planted in neat rows is unnatural.
previous morning at Tinga. The hotel also touts the many local activities, which are not so many, but we ended up going a short hike across the way from the hotel. You can see the photos.
Lost Again in Jozie
We have gone well past a thousand kilometers, about 1200km now. Except for tomorrow's morning drive to the airport, I am done for at least a couple of days . . . then desert driving! The N12 to N3 North connection still confuses me and we ended up going south and had to do a turn around off of the M2. I know that means nothing except that we had to go on a couple of loop-da-loops.
The Hilton Sandton still has lousy service but they offer a shuttle service to Sandton City Mall, so we did that and went to Nelson Mandela Square where we ate some Indian food at Bhokara. The food three is quite good although the restaurant has an unusual location and was largely empty. The mall is interesting as it is a blend of designer fashion stores and local stores masquerading as high fashion with cheap junk.
There are more photos below