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Published: April 20th 2010
Luxury. Sheer luxury. 06h30 and still the alarm hadn't gone off!. However, it was now time to get up. Having ensured everything that could be fully charged was, I packed the rucksack, collected all my bags and took them to the bus and then went for a breakfast of tea, toast and Bovril and my malaria tablet.
Bus packed, we left the reserve and headed into the early morning sun. The views across the mountains were stunning as we made our way towards the capital. Nearing the edge of the high ground, we looked down into the mist covered valley before descending ourselves into the cloud.
Our first stop of the day was a craft centre. We pulled up next to a field and looked at the mud; the site had been freshly bulldozed. Wondering where the market had moved, we enquired at the adjacent petrol station, only to find that it had simply moved to the next field! To comments of mooie vrouw
, we drove off the forecourt and into the market, parking in the centre. Not all the stalls were yet open but we did notice that we were the only vehicle.
Taking our cameras (and
some money), we set of in search of untold riches only to find that all the stalls sold virtually the same sorts of trinkets - masks, salad spoons, table clothes, wooden carvings, stone bowls - all supposedly handmade but, judging by the uniformity, all handmade by the same person!
Leaving the market empty handed, we continued across the highland, joining the main road to the capital, Mbabane. The sun was now high and the sky a deep blue and, on leaving the capital, we began the long and gradual descent though Manzini, Hhelehhele and an aptly named town called Big Bend
before we eventually arrived at Lavumisa where we needed to cross back into South Africa.
Sadly, we arrived just behind a coach carrying UK school children and so had to wait whilst 40 passports were stamped. After waiting in the hot sun, we eventually became the head of the queue and received the appropriate stamp. On leaving the Swaziland side, we crossed the road and attempted to enter South Africa, with the same children in front of us. Finally, after about 30 minutes (not too bad by border crossing standards) we were in Goela, on the South
We were now in KwaZulu-Natal and, having completed the long descent, began to climb an little into the foothills of the Drakensberg. Driving south-east towards the Indian Ocean, it was certainly beginning to feel warmer. Towards lunchtime, we turned off down a winding road between the hills, passing little round houses, their occupants waving to us before arriving at Mkhuzi Game Reserve.
Being experts in tent erection, we grabbed our camping gear and, as the Emshopi Camp Site was empty, picked the prime spots for our tents. Mine, as before, was in the shade of a couple of trees, which also allowed me the benefit of somewhere to put the washing line.
Following a rather civilised lunch, we set off into the park for a game drive, catching site of Impala, Eland and Buffalo; we also saw Nyala. As the day drew on, we grabbed a little beer (and water) and set off for one of the hides. Settling in, Maxwell and Jerry were soon snoring gently whilst the rest of us set up our cameras and waited. After 10 minutes, the first of the beers was opened, just as a few Impala passed by.
Click. That was a tortoise. Click. That was another tortoise. After an hour's viewing, all we had seen were several tortoise, a woodpecker and a monitor.
We returned to camp after nightfall, gazed at the stars, drank a bottle of wine with our meal and settled into our tents - all by 21h00!
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