Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 135 - Johannesburg, South Africa to Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland

First order of business was to meet with the shippers for RobC’s bike and once that was straightened away we headed to the BMW dealership.  Had to wait around for a few hours until my bike was ready.  Oil change, the chain and both sprockets were to be replaced.  Not bad for 54,000km.  It was stretching very badly to the point where I had to tighten it every few days.  Then it was a sad goodbye to my riding partner.  He will be sorely missed.  We had shared amazing times over the past several months.  If only I could remember all the things I had learned from him.  It was like having your own encyclopaedia along for the trip.  :) I will be thinking of you during the remaining 6 weeks Rob.  

Typed in Mbabane into the GPS and I was on my way.  It was a short ride to Mbabane but I had a late start, 1pm.  Managed to get out of Jo’Burg without a hitch and onto N4 then south on to a secondary road to catch the border post at Ngwenya.  The landscape turned from flat lands to rolling hills with many coal mines and logging camps.  Seemed to be the local economy in these parts.  One striking difference was the level of poverty as I headed east.  Even the petrol stations had barbed wire fences around them with gates as entrances.    

The border crossing was a snap.  Maybe half hour to cross both South African and Swaziland borders.  Very efficient.  The Swaziland border post even had a tourism office.  Incredible! The Swaziland custom officer gave me the same speech I received back at the Namibian border.  Apparently, they are in the same customs network as South Africa and he stated I didn’t need my Carnet signed off.  It took some effort on my part to convince him that I needed the forms filled out and eventually he agreed. 

I was surprised to find out how small Swaziland really was, 120km wide and 180km long. Road signs, petrol stations and stores were pretty much a carbon copy of South Africa but less of everything.  No new fancy buildings or highways.  The ride into Mbabane was a series of sweeping curves down to the city center.  I decided on the Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sondzela Backpackers as my stop for the day.  It was located inside the sanctuary.  Actually had to wait for zebras to cross the red dirt road to get there.  Arrived at 630pm and 55 rand (7USD) later, I was the only tent there.  Dinner had been already served but they waited for me to get settled in.  Walked to the camp fire where my dinner was served out of several covered pots sitting on the ground.  Since I was the last one they piled my plate full of food.  I enjoyed some beers at the Warthog Bar and turned in early.

Milwane campsite

The road to the campsite

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you back on here again! Must be different without that infamous Dutch man along though--LOL We are all with you in spirit though!! Phyllis (Rob C's friend)