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Day 12

Monday 15 August 2005

Stilwater Hotel - Sabi River Sun, Hazyview

Today was mainly a tarmac drive with two border crossings and the normal bureaucracy to go through.

After entering Swaziland we were delighted with the lushness of this obviously fertile country, which, like Lesotho, is a mountainous independent country, only much lower and subsequently much greener. Timber is obviously a prosperous industry here.

Early birds decided to take a visit to the Mlilane Wildlife Park after travelling up the Grand Valley (the most developed part of the country) and through the Royal Village at Lobamba. These lucky, but happy few spotted crocodiles, hippos and other bits of indigenous wildlife.

The highlight of the day, however, had to be the Mantenga Cultural Village. This was a reconstructed Swazi family homestead. Here we were entertained by an extremely good guide, who showed us how a typical Swazi village functions. We were then entertained with energetic songs and dances from a traditionally dressed group of Swazis.

Unfortunately, Jingers and Mike Johnson missed the show as the De Hullu family's Land Rover needed attention in the parking area. They had detected a nasty noise from the transmission, which turned out to be nothing major or time consuming - although the stop did provide some monkeys with the excuse to climb all over their vehicles in search of biscuits and the like.

The only other problem of the day was Jim Taylor's Lexus, which picked up a puncture whilst running on the faster gravel sections after the border into South Africa. Sir Terence English, however, was on hand to help with repairs, before Medic Mike Johnson arrived to finish the job.

Today, some people learnt an important lesson: you do not have to be going fast to excite policemen with radar guns on southern Africa's main roads. Those who found themselves threatened with detention today included Don Griffiths, who was let off, and the Harris, Howells and De Hullu vehicles, which were all made to write out one hundred lines. David, Bob and Toine are now taking lessons from Don in how to be teacher's pet.

In spite of the unruliness of some, however, the whole class made it safely to the Sabi River Sun in lovely warm weather.