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Published: August 9th 2007
Swazi Quad TourBlog Update
Rach ready to go...
You may have been wondering why we haven't published any blogs for the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the Travel Blog website crashed and resulted in the loss of thousands of people's entries, including ours. We are trying to retrieve our old entries, without a huge amount of success, but in the meantime our priority is to get the new entries published so you can see what we've been upto. Hopefully we will be able to recover our old entries, but for the time being, you won't be able to see them on our blog. Journey to Swaziland
Set off for Swaziland, which Paul (our friendly host at the backpackers) said would take around 3.5 hours on good roads. Yeah, maybe if you go the easy way! Lesson One: always familiarise yourself with the map key before you plan a journey! We left Nelspruitt and were soon climbing some pretty steep mountains, laughing at some crazy and very fit mountain bikers struggling up the roads. The R40 suddenly turned into a construction site and we were driving down endless red dirt roads in our little Clio. Checking the map to ensure we were heading the right way, Rach
Hippos in the evening sun in Mlilwane
realised that the R40 to the border at Josephdal and then to Piggs Peak was all untarred. Oops! We got a few funny looks from some of the road workers, so we stopped and asked one guy whether we going in the right direction. He said "Don't worry, you'll make it!". It was very exciting driving along twisty dirt roads high up in the mountains with no safety barriers - hence why the road is called The Wild Frontier! However, it wasn't so fun when the car started making a horrible grinding noise when we braked down the big hills. We both hoped it was a stone jammed in the wheel and not the brake discs grinding metal on metal, which scarily it turned out to be when Jase whipped off the wheel later at the backpackers. The border crossing at Josefdal was a very relaxed affair - especially compared to our experiences at Zimbabwe. The guide obviously couldn't really be arsed as he just wrote our names and passport numbers in the book, and casually ticked all the other criteria. It was quite funny when we paid our car tax to another official, as we arrived just after a
taxi man who seemed to be a regular. The official gave us the taxi man's receipt for payment and we suspect pocketed our contribution. Perk of the job! Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
We drove past Mbabane and found Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary where we were staying at Sondzela Backpackers. We saw quite a few antelope driving through the park and lots of hippo around the lake. We arrived at the backpackers where we given a little rondavel to ourselves with a stable door, which you could lean out of to watch the warthogs munch on the grass. The view was beautiful and it was lovely to watch the sunset across the surrounding hills from the window seats. We enjoyed a yummy pork braai around a campfire in the evening. Swazi Quads
We had a fantastic day out on a Swazi Quad Tour. Richard picked us up in the morning from our accommodation and drove us to a homestead for a morning cup of lemongrass tea - very refreshing! On the way over, Richard filled us on the history of the Swazi people and gave us some insight into their culture. He introduced us to our guide for the day, a
Jase & The Hippos
Jase with his hippo friends
great guy called Tohba, who had been trained in the Royal Swazi Regiment as a King's Warrior, so really knew his stuff. There was just us on the tour for the day, so it was nice and chilled out. We did our practice run around the homestead, proving our steering skills by avoiding the chickens, goats and children running around the yard. Since we had both driven quads before, it was just a quick test and we were soon off bumping down to the potholed track to the road. It was great fun skidding down gravel paths and charging up steep hills. Tohba initially drove quite slowly, but when he realised we had it sussed he seemed to speed up quite a bit. But we kept up all day! We would stop off occasionally, to survey the scenery or an impressive vista, and to visit local shops for some refreshment. At midday we stopped off by some waterfalls. Rach managed not to fall in as we negotiated the slippery rocks and boulders around the falls. We went back to Evelyn's homestead and spread out a picnic in her garden for a spot of lunch. Tohba was a huge fan of
Our accommodation in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, complete with friendly warthogs outside the door
fresh avocados, which we plastered onto crusty cobs. As there was just the two of us on the tour, we really relaxed and got chatting to Tohba about his life and also traditional values and customs of Swazi people. Jase was fascinated by the fact you still pay for your wife in cow currency. Apparently a wife is worth 18 cows plus an extra 3 cows for a virgin. Bargain! Many men have more than one wife, which we imagine would be a lot of earache. Tohba told us it was best to be either the first wife who has the administrative control of the family or the last wife, who gets the most attention in the bedroom department. Bye bye Clio!
We limped back to Mbabane in the Clio to the car hire rental company. Fortunately there was a branch at a nearby garage. Jase had made several attempts to sort the situation with various people in South Africa and Swaziland, which was annoying because our South Africa mobile phone wouldn't work so we had to keep buying Swazi phone cards. In the end, Jase sorted it by arriving at the car hire office explaining that our car
Jase on Quad Bike
Driving down a main road in Swaziland
had no brakes and according to the service history, had missed key services. There weren't any Clios on the forecourt so it was bye bye Clio and hello Corrolla! This was a bonus because it had far more boot space so we could stash all our luggage out of site, which is always wise in Africa.
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