AROUND SWAZILAND

AROUND SWAZILAND

We have way too much stuff. After road-tripping Southern Africa for 5 months, you’d think we would’ve learned a few lessons and culled some odds and ends. But somehow we seem to have crammed more camping gear, camera equipment and fishing tackle into the Landy than ever before. It’s almost 2 weeks into the trip now and we’re still trying to figure out the best way to pack it all in. Oh well, môre is nog ‘n dag.

But we digress.

The beginning of this adventure – the proverbial Point A – was Kerryn’s folks’ house in the capital of Kruger, Skukuza. After doing a final (final, final, final) gear check, and bidding farewell to the parentals, we struck out in a southeasterly direction. The weeks leading up to a big trip can seem like months, and this one was no different. But the moment had finally arrived. At last it was just us, Andy, a map of South Africa and the open road. Oh, and all that other stuff that we brought along, much of which we’ll probably never use.

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After leaving Kruger at Crocodile Bridge, we turned right, and headed west along the N4, roughly parallel to the Swazi border. At Kaapmuiden, we turned off the blue line and onto a yellow one, towards the pretty little town of Barberton. The Old Coach Inn is a quaint B&B about 10kms out of town. The super-friendly owners, Lilly and Adrian, were a bit flustered when we arrived, as they had spent the better part of the afternoon chasing a boomslang around the house. We definitely trod a bit more carefully after hearing that. When we told Lilly about the idea behind this trip, she pointed out a seldom-used dirt road running along the Swazi border between the Josefsdal and Oshoek border posts. Not only did it follow the edge of South Africa, it was also apparently really, really pretty.

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It was slow going the next morning, as we wound up through the mountains towards the Josefsdal border post. Mainly because we were stopping every few minutes to take in the epic views over the escarpment. We also stopped at a few of the geological sites along the way. Famous geologists evidently come from all over the world to study the mountains around Barberton, where the oldest rock formations in the world are said to be found. If you’re into rocks, this is your place. Although if you’re into rocks, you probably already knew that. Just before the border we turned right onto the dirt track that Lilly had told us about, which was even slower going. After about an hour, we came across the ghost town of Mzoli, which was built to service the old asbestos mine nearby. It felt a bit creepy driving down the town’s deserted high street, past the abandoned homes, primary school, church and bottle store. It also felt a bit creepy driving in the vague vicinity of an asbestos mine, and we didn’t hang around.

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Near Oshoek, we found a tar road, and continued on our journey around Swaziland. Lochiel, Amsterdam, Piet Retief, Pongola, Jozini and about 8 Stop/Go’s followed. Somewhere along the line we left Mpumalanga and entered Kwa-Zulu Natal. The day was dragging. Our patience was waning. When we finally arrived at the entrance to Ndumo Game Reserve, 10 hours after leaving Barberton, we were well and truly poked. We needn’t have worried though. As it turns out, Ndumo is an especially good place to recharge one’s batteries.

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