We stay almost a week in the beautiful bush camp before we continue to Eswantini, formerly Swaziland. The border crossing is no problem. Everyone is very nice and friendly and nobody wants to look at the car. Because of the foot and mouth disease there are some restrictions on food and we have hidden our meat as a precaution. Eswantini is a small kingdom in the middle of South Africa of only 17,500 sq km and 1.4 million inhabitants. The king lives in luxury while his people are bitterly poor. More than 70% of the people live on less than a dollar a day and over 40% are unemployed. Meanwhile, each of the king's 15 wives has her own palace. In one of the world's last absolute monarchies, only the king is in charge. Political activities are strictly forbidden and violators face a 20-year prison sentence.
As a tourist, you usually don't notice any of this. The people are friendly and open-minded and laugh a lot. Our first stop is at Mabuda Farm, a coffee and vegetable plantation in beautiful surroundings. On signposted hiking trails you can explore the area and watch the workers picking coffee beans. In a cafe small dishes are offered and of course the excellent coffee. No wonder we stay here for almost a week and enjoy ourselves.
Not far away is the Hlane National Park. Conveniently, the Wildcard of South Africa is also valid here, so that we do not have to pay an extra entrance fee. The campground is located near a waterhole in which three hippos cavort. During the day they lie lazily in the sun and you can mostly only see their nostrils. Only in the evening they become active and show the very impressive wide open mouth with the murderous canine teeth. One wonders why a vegetarian needs such tusks.
There are also a few lions in the park, but you can only see them on a game drive, as they live in a separate area. Before sunrise we set off with our guide. The morning fog is still over the landscape and gives the whole thing a mystical atmosphere. After some searching we find two male lions and one female. We stand with the car only 10m away and the two gentlemen suddenly come towards us, which then motivates our guide to better put the car in reverse and to ensure a little more distance.
In another area of the park we see a few white rhinos that suddenly appear out of the fog. After a good 2.5 hours we are back at our car and are happy that getting up early was worth it. To the animal experiences there is also a small video clip which you can watch here: Africa Wildlife Part 2
We continue a good 100 km west to the vicinity of the capital Mbabane. There is the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. The Big Five are not here, but there are very beautiful hiking trails on which we pass the time. In the nearby lake some crocodiles are at home and we can watch them sunbathing in the best light.
We continue towards the border and take a break for a few days at a nice guest farm.
That's it for us in the small country, because we have reservations in the Kruger National Park where we want to stay for a longer time. What we experience there you will learn as always in the next blog. Until then, have fun reading and looking at pictures.