24 hours in Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland totally landlocked by South Africa and Mocambique is one of the smallest countries within Africa and a given stop when on road trip in this region. Driving from Johannesburg, the best way to cross the border was via the Oshoek Border Post at least if you are planning to visit the capital of Mbabane.

Mbabane is the biggest city in the country and houses both the classic markets as well as modern looking shopping centres. The city doesn't offer any special sightings but when exploring by foot we found at least some spots worth taking some shots, among them some Swazi street art as seen below. Apart from the commerce at the market and the busy scene at the taxi station, there is not that much more to see. Anyhow it still deserves a stop when passing by and for us it was a perfect timing for a lunch before continuing south in the country.  

Street art in Mbabane with truly Swazi inspiration

After leaving Mbabane behind it was time to make the short drive to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of several parks within the Big Game Parks and the oldest protected area of the country. At Mlilwane, we were advised to stay in the Beehive Village which is a typical Swazi accomondation in the shape of a hive. Be sure to book well in advance though as they seemed to be very popular way to stay the night within the park. I have never slept or even seen something like this before so it was a nice and exciting experience, especially to hear the wildlife just outside during the night.

Entrance to the Mliliwane Wildlife Sanctuary

The Beehive Village

Inside the Beehive with comfortable beds and even electricity

The afternoon was about to turn to early evening and it was time for a sunset safari arranged by the camp. The Mlilwane park offers a diverse habitat and quite extensive numbers of species, most of them non predators so you were even able to hike or ride a bike through the beautiful landscape on your own. We went by a safari jeep though and sighted several different kind of hoofed animals just after leaving the village. The game drive continued through the hilly landscape and up for a sunset view from the highest point and like all game drives with an ice cold local beer.

The 4x4 safari jeep

The beautiful sunset view from the top of the mountain at Mlilwane

Local beer to enjoy in the sunset

Back at the camp, it was time for dinner which was served at the main building in connection of a small lake. Not that easy to get a view since when it's get dark in Africa, it's really dark! But the sound of the awakening wildlife could not be missed, a powerful flashlight would be great to spot some of the action. The walk back to beehive in the dark was quite interesting as well as of now the impalas and gazelles had dared to enter the camp area in shelter of the darkness.

Next morning and breakfast at the same place as the dinner last night, this time with a great view of the birdlife around the lake.  The camera was as always ready and I managed to get some great shots of an hunting heron and some other smaller birds flying around. Since the camp area was located in the middle of the park we had the chance to go on our own game drive while checking out from the facitlity and leaving the park. We could ceratinly have stayed one or two more nights at this place to try some more of the acitivities offered, it's not everywhere you can go game driving on a bike!

Warthog with two small suckling piglets during our own game drive

Now we had about three hours of driving in front of us before reaching our next stop and the safari lodge in the Kwazulu Natal region in South Africa. This gave us a great opportunity to see and experience the beautiful landscape along the route while driving southbound to the Golela Border Post. As you can see on the photo below the road network was in good condition and made us no worries. Beware of speeding though since the police had radar controls at several places to my very own experience.

To summarize, 24 hours pass by quite fast but in the same time you are able to do quite a lot anyway if planned ahead. I can really recommend a visit to Swaziland even if it's short. We managed to experience both the capital, a great game drive with an memorable stay in a beehive all without rushing. Just click the link below if you want to see more photos from our stop in Swaziland!  

A typical Swazi road sign on our way south to the border


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