On our way to Eswatini
After leaving the Kruger Park through the Malelane Gate, we drove via Barberton towards Eswatini (former Swaziland). We followed the Makhonjwa Geotrail to the border of Eswatini. Besides a magnificent view, information boards at lookout points offer the possibility to learn something about the partly 3 billion(!) years old rocks – impressive.
Memories of Switzerland
Eswatini reminded us of Switzerland. The mountain ranges there are similar, and we felt very comfortable in the small kingdom. The constant references to the high crime rate in South Africa amazed us. In fact, we drove 4 days unmolested through Eswatini and met very friendly and helpful people. With the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, we found a beautiful place in the middle of the forest where we could camp perfectly. It would not have been a surprise to find elves and gnomes there.
Yearning for a time-out at the beaches
We left Eswatini without seeing everything we had planned. Time on the beaches was too important for us, and after checking the weather forecast, we headed south to the border of Mozambique. Not really trusting the forecast, we booked a campsite near Kosi Bay, a town close to the border but still in South Africa.
Our intuition worked perfectly – while we checked in and set up camp it surprisingly started to rain. The weather conditions changed the next morning after 12 hours of continuous rain. The forecast had completely turned and an area of low pressure had settled over Mozambique as well as South Africa. This meant rain for the next 7 days in the region we had planned to go to.
A short visit of about one hour to the beach of Kosi Bay and wet feet were the result of our detour to the beach. Apparently, bathing and beach relaxation were simply not intended for us on this trip…
We are flexible and headed back to Al and Gail. After contacting EcoTraining we arranged a visit to their Makuleke Camp, located in the northern Kruger Park in a private concession.
Back at Zvakanaka
The return to Al and Gail was wonderful. We were all happy to see us again so soon and spent three wonderful days at Zvakanaka. On the second day Sonja baked two loaves of bread on the open fire. The joy was huge when we brought one of them over to Al and Gail. They had two guests in their cottage who wanted to write a story about their farm for a regional magazine. We were invited for the evening and had an excellent time all together with beer, wine and a campfire.
Rain caught up with us
During the night the rain reached Louis Trichardt, and it became really uncomfortable in the mountains. The fog enveloped everything, the temperatures dropped, and it never stopped raining. We got asylum with Al and Gail at the fire pit while the sky poured more and more water over us. They invited us to spend the next night at the farmhouse. When it briefly stopped in the late afternoon, we packed up and moved into the renovated farmhouse.
It was admittedly a wonderful feeling to lie in a warm and dry bed while it continued to rain through the night. The next morning the rain was gone, and it was time to say goodbye. We drove the 150 km to the Pafuri Gate at Kruger National Park without stress and arrived about half an hour before time.
Once again with EcoTraining
A good-humored Mike Anderson picked us up, and we had a lot of fun to meet PJ, one of the group participants from Mashatu, at the camp. The next day we were joined by Nep, and we had great three days together with the guys!
Makuleke camp offers spacious two-person tents with private showers and toilets for each tent. Their Land Cruiser had run over 200,000 km, but looked like new and ran perfectly. The food was excellent and there was even real coffee – especially for us. Our days with EcoTraining were very entertaining and the region where the camp is located is a private concession in Kruger Park.
The vegetation is very varied and so was the plan we made for the three days. We started with a bush walk – what else?
In the afternoon we went on an extended game drive, where we discovered a great place: a small lake, which was perfect for a bush walk. The program for the next morning was already clear. We started with a short bush walk, followed by two hours with tea and coffee at the lake, enjoying the rising sun and this brilliant atmosphere and watching the birds.
In the evening Mike came up with something special and we all (with the camp manager Vicky) drove together to an incredible viewpoint. We enjoyed the Sundowner and this fantastic view before heading back to camp and ending the day around the campfire.
EcoTrainings performance was compelling
The things that we criticized in Mashatu were not present during this stay. It was EcoTraining’s concern to convince us that our experience was not normal. Thank you for a very pleasant time in Makuleke. We had to say goodbye the next morning. Our drive brought us directly to Musina to enter Zimbabwe via the infamous Beitbridge border.
The approach was sobering. Every few kilometers there was a sign indicating that it was a criminal hotspot. Do not stop and/or get out of the car it says. On the South African part of the border there are some criminal ‘agents’ who promise you the blue of heaven to get your money. As soon as we left the country, everything was fine. Our adventure in Zimbabwe could begin.