Swaziland is one of two land-locked countries in South Africa and one of the smallest countries in Africa. It was also the first stop on our unbelievable 2007 km road-trip with Pauli and Anna, who we’d hiked the Otter Trail with, and Becki and Birtwell, who had joined us from the UK.
After a special weekend in Port Elizabeth with my folks, sister and all the elephants at Addo, we caught a night bus up to Johannesburg. We had hired the biggest car Avis had for 10 days and spent a day exploring Soweto before heading across to Swaziland. With good roads and a quick and easy border crossing the drive took around five hours. We based ourselves at Ladwala Lodge in Ezulwini for a few nights before the festival and it was awesome to be back in our tents for the first time since Malawi.
It was a gentle walk up Sibebe Rock, the world’s second largest monolithic rock after Australia’s Uluru (Ayers Rock), where we enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch. I also climbed Sheeba’s Breast, a well-marked trail starting from just behind the hostel for beautiful 360 degree views of the Malkerns Valley and beyond.
We also spent a crazy-fun evening adventure caving with Swazitrails exploring the Gobholo Caves – squeezing, sliding and belly-crawling through potentially the largest granite cave system in the world. The tour ended with pizza and beer in the Cuddle puddle hot springs (that really is a place!). It was the perfect end to a phenomenal, unexpected adventure of an evening.
The reason for our visit to Swaziland was the Bushfire festival, now in its 12th year. It’s in a beautiful location in the Malkerns Valley surrounded by sugar cane plantations and there were four stages and a number of delicious food stalls.
It was lovely to wander between stages and discover some wonderful new music including Mozambican drumming, Japanese dub and the fabulous Swazi country duo of Dusty and Stones. It was also so much fun wearing our new outfits that we’d had tailored in Malawi!
It was a fun few days with such a variety of activities and a really nice to start to our awesome road trip.
* A huge thank you to Pauli, Becki and Birtwell for sharing their pictures.