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Published: March 23rd 2015
March 21, 2015 (Mkaya, Swaziland) Having pretty much completed our clinical duties other than an inpatient follow up visit, we elected to stay in Swaziland and visit one of the locally managed game reserves – Mkaya. It is privately owned by Mick and his wife Kay, friends of Jono’s through the conservation activities in Swaziland. Several other features appealed to us – we could spend the night there outdoors and they have four of the five “big” game including the black rhino. (they don’t have lions). It was about an hour’s drive from Mabuda Farm, down the Lubombo range and into the dry, dusty lowfelt area of Swaziland, not too far from where we’d been tiger fishing. On arrival, our vehicles were escorted through multiple gates and fences to the homestead on Mkaya where Mick and his family live. There is no electricity on Mkaya homestead nor anywhere in the park. From there we were assigned to our guide B….e who was impressively knowledgeable, advanced and articulate – not to mention a keen eye to spot and point out highlights.
On arrival, we checked in, dropped off our limited backpacks and promptly went for a late
morning safari from 10-noon. The sun was high and most of the animals took full advantage of the mud holes and watering holes. The highlight was the watering hole with 7 white rhinos, 9 hippos, a crocodile and a buffalo cow and her calf. We went back to Mkaya camp for lunch and then took a siesta break before heading out in for a dusk drive – primarily to see our guide track down the black rhino. Following clues like fresh foot prints, bitten branches, dung piles he zeroed in on the black rhino just before sunset. He was a ways up the ridge, so to allow a better view, he invited us out of the jeep which was a bit unnerving – knowing how nasty and fast the black rhino can be. Fortunately, they are generally shy as well. On the way back we also saw some albino wildebeest, giraffes and numerous colourful birds and eagles.
The resort part of Mkaya has a central lodge area, where food and drinks are served and surrounded by remote open thatched hut units for guests to spend the night. They are open other than a “hyena” gate
that can be closed, but otherwise you’re out there with the wildlife. Comfortable beds with mosquito netting to reduce chances of contracting malaria and an open air bathroom/shower with nice hot water. As sunset’s transition to night time is quick, the camp is well stocked with kerosene hurricane lanterns (we had six of them in the cabin). Sleeping was tough because it was hot and humid inside the mosquito netting and the sounds of the wild are all around, but rested reasonably. At 5:30 the staff was sent out to each cabin with a wakeup call for a 6 – 8 am drive. Our target was to find their colony of pachyderms, but even though we found vast evidence of elephant destruction (pushed over trees) we didn’t catch up with the herd. We did meet up with a rhino and her calf and followed her slowly down the road. After a few minutes of that she abruptly turned around and faced us as if to warn us off. We stopped and watched as they both turned around and trotted off into the bush. We headed back for a fresh breakfast, spent some time visiting with the owners and toured an
amazing blind he has set up for watching and photographing game (Kirky’s Hide). Staff drove us back to our vehicles and we set back off for the cooler altitudes of Mabuda Farm, a dip in the pool, packing and winding down another spectacular trip to Swaziland.
Jono packed us all into the Land Cruiser and hauled our luggage on top and in a trailer and we were off to King Mswati III airport to catch the 5:25 pm flight to Johannesburg. The flight was delayed, and connections in Joburg were very tenuous. We found an airport staffer that guided us through, broke through passport control lines, security lines, and directed us to the gate – we must have dashed a mile an a half. Hot, sweaty and out of breath, we just made the flight – I was the last passenger on. Our luggage is probably suffered a different fate. Should be interesting in customs…
Tot: 3.102s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 10; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0477s; 3; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb