The Ezulwini Valley in Swaziland

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A nice hike, a cute behive and my first warthog!

After leaving Kruger we headed on to the South African, Swaziland border. After other African borders in the west, I was stunned at how easy this was. We literally just walked into the Sth African departures, got stamped, walked over no mans land to the Swaziland arrivals, got stamped again and were done. It was maybe 10 minutes. After spending most of the day on borders between Mali and Guinea or Morocco and Mauritania, this was an absolute breeze.

 2020 Update: Swaziland is now called the Kingdom of Eswatini.

 Our ultimate destination in Swaziland was the Ezulwini Valley just south of the capital Mbabane. Ezulwini literally means Valley Of Heaven. Climbing into the mountains showcased the stunning scenery that is Swaziland and was a refreshing change from the heat of Kruger. I had not noticed the heat. It had been warm for sure, however we had various members of our group complaining about it so I’m assuming it was actually pretty hot. Keeping in mind they were English!

 Our accommodation tonight was the traditional beehive huts in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. The name ‘Mlilwane’ (‘Little Fire’ in siSwati) was given to the area after fires that were started by lightning strikes on the Mlilwane Hill. The park is 4560 Hectares and with the absence of any real large predators you can walk and hike a lot of that area.

Camping, self catering huts and cottages are all available at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

ACCOMMODATION TYPES (Prices at Oct 2019)

  • Rest Camp Huts Sleeps 2 From ZAR 445
  • Beehive Villages – twin share Sleeps 2 From ZAR 495
  • Beehive Village – family huts Sleeps 4 From ZAR 495
  • Shonalanga Family Cottage Sleeps 6 From ZAR 555
  • Lontweni Self-catering Rondavels – 3 sleeper Sleeps 3 From ZAR 530
  • Lontweni Self-catering Rondavels – 2 sleeper Sleeps 2 From ZAR 530
  • Camping From ZAR 130

As opposed to Kruger this sanctuary has no big predators, with the exception of crocodiles, so you find lots of varying types of deer and antelope along with Zebra’s roaming free. So free in fact that Anna walked out of her hut and almost collided with a zebra on the way to the loo one night.

We spend a lovely morning trekking around the park on the Hippo trail and through the woodlands with Lorraine identifying species of plants and animals. We only had one day so while we did do a few good walks, I would have loved to stay and done heaps more.

The common area we had was a great place for socializing and eating and as usual Lorraine cooked up a storm.

After dinner Lorraine enthralled us with stories of local customs and we came away knowing the process of getting married in the Zulu culture. Even today these processes are still observed.

Zulu Betrothing Process:

If Lorraine was to have a boyfriend for example, her parents would not know him or even of him. Zanelli (which is her brother) may know he was Lorraine’s boyfriend but it would be from a distance and no contact would be strictly observed. If it should get serious, it would be Lorraine’s aunts who she introduced him to. They would then be the ones who negotiated on behalf of Lorraine’s parents as to her dowry.

Its really interesting and completely different to western culture (what little is left today that is) and even though Lorraine is an independent woman who lives out of her parents home, this tradition would still be observed.


Invisible Warthogs

Somehow or other in the two days we’d been there I’d never seen a warthog. The day we left we are all up early and heading to breaky only to see about 40 of them! They were like dogs. They were everywhere. I’d never seen one before and I was surprised how much they range in size. I thought they would be the size of a domestic pig but they are much smaller, much hairier and not quite as agressive as a normal pig can be.

Overall I loved this beautiful slice of nature and it’s one of the few places I would seriously consider going back to. I think mostly because I feel there was so much more to see and we only touched on a very small slice.

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