The land of king Mswati III

Hlane Royal National Park Travel Blog

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When we were leaving our lodge the housekeepers waved and sang us goodbye.

Wake up at 6 am, breakfast at 7. On our little walk to the restaurant we spot four monkeys running between the rondavels. One of them is carrying a young. Cute.

At eight we leave for Swaziland. John the English bartender (barefoot as always) and the owner of the lodge are present to say goodbye, while five African women are singing for us in an undecipherable language, but is sounds happy and it probably means something like "Happy trails" or "See you again".

It's around ten o'clock when the bus pulls over and we're having a break at a very picturesque  spot. This particular lodge has won the prize for "Best lodge in South Africa" in three consecutive years. And we can see why. The building is cramped with tools and equipment from the old days and it took the owners ten years to gather these items from all over the world.

The view over the Krokodil river.

We're having coffee and milk cake on the raised wooden terrace (with a reed roof) outside. The view is magnificent: from our chairs we can overlook the Krokodil river that forms the southern border of the Kruger park, with birds and elephants bathing in the distance. At 1 pm lunch is served inside, and the sheer look at the food makes my mouth water. My pallet proves my nose and eyes right, it really is delicious.

It's not that far to the Swaziland border and when we get there everyone has to get off the bus and stand in line to get a South African "Departure" stamp in his passport. The 50 metres of nomansland we have to cross on foot and then we can stand in line to get a Swazi "Entrance" stamp. On the counter there are two dispensers with free condoms.

A happy Hippo family on a day out.
This is one of the government measures against Aids, which is  a huge problem in Swaziland. 26% of the deaths here are caused by Aids, on the record. Off the record this percentage is much higher, but the people are ashamed of having someone with Aids in their families and therefore many people blame the death of their relative on cancer or malaria. Beside the roads we can read sloguns like "Sex is holy, do it with your wife only". That's very nice, but the king himself doesn't really set a good example: He has fifteen wives!!!

When we arrive at the lodge a man is waiting for us with a chameleon on his shoulder, we get free newspapers with special info for tourists, and then we get the keys to our rondavels. These rondavels look more modern when it comes to the use of building materials, but then again, there is no electricity.

Apart from two petroleum lamps there was only Johan's cellphone to show us what was on the buffet.
Hot water and gas are available though. After a quick shower (the water smells, so it's not suitable for brushing teeth) we walk to the waterhole where the wild animals should come to drink when the sun sets. The hippoes are unpredictable, but with some patience we get to see some action. A thirsty rhino also appears, carrying a bird on his back.

After dark, dinner is served in the open air restaurant of the lodge. Among the dishes there is for instance impala meat, which is very good. At nine the restaurant closes, the staff want to go home. Thank God we've brought a flashlight, without it we would've broken both our legs and we would never have found our rondavel again. Because of the lack of electric lighting we can't see what's three feet in front of us, there's just the black shroud of night. Next to our rondavel-door a petroleum lamp is shedding some guiding light. Two petroleum lamps inside make it possible to do the last things necessary before going to bed. The major disadvantage of these lightsources is that they do not only give light, but a lot of warmth as well. As soon as we don't need the light anymore we put the lamps out and go to sleep with the sound of crickets in the background.

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When we were leaving our lodge th…
The view over the Krokodil river.
The view over the Krokodil river.
A happy Hippo family on a day out.
A happy Hippo family on a day out.
Apart from two petroleum lamps the…
Apart from two petroleum lamps th…
This big guy brought his little fr…
This big guy brought his little f…
Our electricity-free rondavel.
Our electricity-free rondavel.
Part of the collection of old item…
Part of the collection of old ite…
Hlane Royal National Park
photo by: Bluenose