Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Swaziland and South Africa

Volunteering in Swaziland

Hiking in Swaziland.

Milwane Nature reserve, Swaziland

I am writing this from the UK, from home. We have been home for 2 weeks already and I have decided it is about time I updated the blog and finished our story.....

Back at the end of August we crossed into South Africa for the first time. It was a long awaited moment but due to reoccuring car worries it was not the momentous occasion that either of us anticipated. Nevertheless as soon as we got across the border from Mozambique we found pick n pay and treated ourselves to a lovely bottle of South African red, some steak and fresh salad! We then headed straight for Nelspruit where we had been recommended a mechanic to fix some of our problems.

We had heard so many South African's discussing the problem with crime in South Africa that we were immediatly concious of it and felt a little nervous from all the hearsay. We asked advice from the hostel and the manager informed us that he had been mugged 7 times in the past year in downtown Nelspruit. We quickly developed a routine of no bags and no valuables when we were walking around. It was a far cry from the quiet and quaint streets of the UK where you cold carry all your worldly possessions around and feel relatively safe in the knowledge that you are unlikely to be pounced on by someone weilding a kinfe or gun. I felt uneasy throughout South Africa, especially in the larger cities. I did not feel uneasy due to any personal experiences but rather due to all the rumours. I quickly came to the conclusion that South Africans like to discuss the crime rate in the same way that the British people like to discuss the weather.

We left the mechanic to work his magic but unfortunately even he was a bit stumped by the state of Carols engine. Everything was going wrong at once and we knew that we were on borrowed time. We were in South Africa but we so wanted to get to Capetown! We understood that short of a new engine and new parts which did not seem to be too readily available we just had to go on as we were and hope for the best. At this stage we just kept everything crossed and carried on.

We left South Africa as quickly as we had arrived and got back to our original route to Capetown via Swaziland. Arriving into South Africa we had suffered something of a reverse culture shock. We were so used to rural Africa, mud huts and thatched rooves and suddenly we were transported into a far more western culture. Paved and interlinking roads, fully stocked supermarkets, all mod cons! I found myself missing 'real' Africa almost immediaely. I wasn't ready to leave it yet. So I was quite happy when we crossed over the border into Swaziland. Straight away it felt more 'African' but with all the mod cons of its neighbour.


Swaziland was beautiful. Spectacular scenary, lovely people, full of tradition, it felt 'African'. We headed straight for Ezulwini valley where King Mswati II lives in the Royal Palace. We parked up at a lodge/sloping campsite - Lidwala where we came across yet another Land Rover issue. This time it was the problematic passenger window which had been getting more and more difficult to wind up and down for weeks. It had been repaired once before in Ethiopia but the mchanism gave out again. The window fell down into the door and refused to budge. We took the door apart and examined the rusty winder. It was truely destroyed and so we had to improvise. The car was on its last legs and we knew that so we decided not to fix it. Instead we scouted around for some wood and cut the wood into 3 sizes to allow the window to be in the fully up, half up or completly down positions. It wasn't the most convenient solution, every time we stopped Alex had to jump first and run around to let me out. He looked very gentlemanly although we both felt a bit silly. We took a hike/climb to the top of Shebas Breast a mountain overlooking the valley. We were accompanied by a random South African who chain smoked his way up the mountain in the midday heat.
We spent 6 days in Swaziland visiting the Milwane Nature reserve. The best thing about this nature reserve for me was the freedom to follow guided walks around the nature reserve. With the absence of the big 5 you could undertake self guided walks of varying lengths in relative safety. I say relative safety; we did come across a few crocs who were far too close for comfort!
We hung around sunny Swaziland a few more days before getting back on the road towards Hhuluwe National Park in South Africa only 150 miles or so North of Durban where we were meeting Alex's parents on September 13th. Little did we know that the few days between Swaziland and Durban were set to be some of the most eventful we were to have on our whole trip!


Blogger Great Journeys said...

Pictures are good specially that giraffe. I m also fond of visiting different places and hope so that soon I will also be able to go for a safari out there in Africa. In my last German trip I lost my Germany Road Map and faced too much problem, so this time I will be more caytious and careful.

28 October 2015 at 09:54  

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