Wednesday, August 15, 2018 | South Africa – Mpumalanga, Sabie | Petra
STOPOVER IN MOZAMBIQUE AND ESWATINI
CUSTOMS FORMALITIES AND TIRED ANIMALS
The new carnets for our truck and our motor bike need to be stamped by customs. Due to the reason that the stamp needs to be from a country outside of the Southern African Customs Union (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini) we enter Mozambique just for a few days.
HOLIDAY AT THE OCEAN
Only a stone’s throw behind the border of South Africa and Mozambique is Ponta do Ouro – Tip of Gold. The Portuguese gave the name to this spot because of its golden sandy beach. Many South African love to spend their summer holidays in this paradise at the ocean. Now it’s winter time, there are only a few vacationers and the village mostly belongs to the locals.
Road N200 to Ponta do Ouro is under construction at the moment. Soon it will be all-new, much wider and tarred of course. Obviously the Chinese give active support in road construction also to Mozambique to make use of the valuable natural resources of the country in return. Coal, bauxite, iron, natural gas, titanium, tantalum and gold.
The well known coastal resort doesn’t answer my overexaggerated expectations and I’ve to adjust them to reality the moment we arrive at a kind of village entrance and in the centre of the village a minute later .
Dirt road, improvised stalls, sheds and ramshackle buildings, that’s the disillusioning first impression we get from the Tip of Gold. The more we are enthusiastic about the beautiful wide beach at the end of the village. The turquoise blue Indian Ocean treats us with warm water and we very much enjoy bathing in the waves.
After we get served delicious pizza with a smile at the brightly coloured Love Café and enjoy the lively activities on the street we are fully reconciled. The sun is shining and people are beaming with joy. Ponta, we’ll stay and take a vacation!
We still wonder how the upcoming new tarred road will fit ever to the small narrow village. We don’t have have the slightest idea of a town building vision. Let’s see how much it’ll have changed when we’ll stop by again some time.
Generelly it’ll remain suspenseful how this country will develop in the future. Political revolutions and the longstanding civil war in the past left heavy scarfs. Mozambique still is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world although it now experiences a slight economical recovery. But there is still a long, long way to go.
Just some two hundred kilometers northwest of Ponta do Ouro we leave Mozambique some days later at the border post Namaacha – Lomahasha. We cross in a way the southern tip of Mozambique once from the right to the left. The immigration officer who stamps our passport for departure farewells us very friendly and hopes that we soon will come back again to his country. That’s very nice, we think.
Meanwhile another immigration officer is awaiting us at our truck. He surprisingly speaks German very well and welcomes us very friendly. Some years ago he lived in Germany and worked as dock worker in Wismar, we learn. He likes Germany and spontaneously rates us among his close friends. This circumstance ultimately prevents getting pulled over the barrel by two guys who are accountable for the traffic liability only. They want us to pay road tax, 100 US-Dollars against receipt or 50 without. But there is no fee like a road tax as we know for sure. We don’t agree and refuse unwaveringly to pay even one single cent. The discussions about it are over soon, thanks to our new friend. They wave good bye with a smile and we happily can move on to eSwatini.
WELCOME TO ESWATINI
Due to the fact that the name Swaziland is considered to be a relic of the colonial period, King Mswati III., the last absolutistic monarch of Africa, decided to rename his country. Since 2018, fifty years after gaining independence from Great Britain, it’s name is eSwatini, which is to say Land of the Swasi people.
Behind Gambia eSwatini is the smallest country of the African continent. With an expanse of 17.363 square kilometers it is a little bit smaller than the federal state of Saxony and a landlocked country within South Africa. So far about the facts.
We enjoy eSwatini and its very friendly and communicative people, the emaSwati, very much.
Adorable Peace welcomes me spontaneously with „Hello Sisy“ (sister) when she explores our truck at the camp ground. She is visiting Hlane Royal National Park together with her four to six years old charges. Peace is establishing a preschool and is searching for sponsors who help to finance her important project, she tells us. She is delighted at the crayons and the stickers we give her. She wants to use the stickers for the kids in reward for things they did very well.
We are glad to see so many exciting animals in the nature reserves, to have wonderful options to go for a hike and to meet so many friendly people we can talk to.
A group of five rhinos at Hlane Royal National Park seems to be very tired and presents an impressive sleep show in the camp directly in front of the water hole. They even don’t feel disturbed by the huge number of bubbly school classes that are on excursion this week to celebrate the final of the school year. From everywhere of eSwatini they come to visit the nature reserves of their country.
And now we know, based on attentional observation, that even rhinos get very small eyes when they get sleepy. Isn’t it cute, that little sleepy rhino?
Every year in August school classes of each age-group level come from everywhere of the little kingdom for a day trip to visit the reserves and to have a copious picnic. The pupils first get to know some interesting stuff about the animals of their home country, after that they will cook, eat, play and sing.
At Mlilwane Camp wart hogs snuggle down next to the evening camp fire and warm up their bristles. During our game drive in the morning we spot some hippos on a little island in apond. They are having a bath in the sun together with a few crocodiles. And while I’m thinking loudly what a nice spot there is right in front of us, perfect for camping, Win points out a crocodile sleeping (or pretending to sleep) in the gras at the bank of the pond in a three meters distance. Okay, maybe it is not that perfect.
PLAYGROUND OF FANTASY
A totally different treat to the eyes we can find near Mahlanya in the beautiful Ezulwini Valley. The spectacular House on Fire is an extraordinary cultural site. On the former farm there is a botanical garden, a sculpture garden, a nice café, a gallery, some pretty shops selling artisan craftwork in good style and cosy cottages if you want to stay over night.
Centrepiece is the colourful concert hall which often is stage for national and international musicians. The operators themselves call their House on Fire a playground of fantasy. The design very much reminds us to works of the spanish architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. It’s a pity that today of all days, while we are here and have plenty of time, no concert takes place. That would have been really cool.
LET’S GO FOR A HIKE
Now we only can find solace in a challenging hiking tour. Malolotja Nature Reserve is dedicated for our desire. On a beautiful 16 kilometers tour we enjoy a stunning view and can even see the mountains of South African Mpumalanga Province in a distance. We edge our way 400 meters in altitude down to Malolotja Falls and up again back to our truck.
In Malolotja we meet a lively group of hikers from South Africa who mastered even the 42 kilometers Otter-Trail in South Africa and the 5-days hike at Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It’s a notorious tough tour and you should be well prepared for it. You really should do it they highly recommend, maybe not during summer when you can have up to 50 degrees there. A great idea, we think, but first let’s do the hike to the refreshing shower.