From Kruger to Swaziland – a trip to remember
When a client tells you, they just want to go to Swaziland because the Swazi stamp is needed in their passport, what do you do? You go above and beyond their expectations and give them an actual story to tell! Off course our amazing guide is not just going to take them to Swaziland for a stamp, he worked out an itinerary that will please any tourist, any day!
Swaziland is a gem on its own – add in a little Kruger and you have got a treasure tale to tell!
First off, the Panorama route: en-route to the Kruger National Park
The Panorama route is a scenic self-drive tourist attraction. The most popular landmark is the Blyde River Canyon – one of the largest canyons in the world and the second largest canyon in Africa. While it is difficult to compare canyons around the world, it may be the largest “green canyon”. It is about 25km in length and about 750 meters deep. The highest point of the canyon, known as Mariepskop is 1,944 meters above sea level and the lowest point is less than 561 meters.
Just a little bit to the right of the Blyde River Canyon is the Three Rondavels. This is three round, grass-covered mountain tops. They are named after the 19th century chief Maripi’s three wives and along with canyon, this is a truly spectacular view.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes is another stop they made. This landmark is truly magnificent. The potholes are a result of decades of water swirling where the Treur river meets the Blyde river. This has caused major water erosion over the years and resulted in rock sculptures that will take your breath away.
En-route they stopped at some of the many waterfalls known as the Sabie Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Mac Mac Falls as well as God’s Window which is named so because of the amazing 180° view of the Lowveld.
That was it for the eyes, now to fill the tummies. Just after Bourke’s Luck Pothols, next to the Blyde River sits a restaurant called Potluck. This is no ordinary restaurant. They don’t have any electricity! All food is made on an open fire. And to keep the drinks cold on a hot summer day, they have a solar panel with a battery which a fridge runs on. When visiting this little gem, always remember to bring cash as there is no electricity, thus no card machine.
Kruger Adventure Lodge – a home away from home
Kruger Adventure Lodge is a beautiful and comfortable lodge situated in Hazieview, only 15 minute’s drive from Kruger National Park. This was their home for the next two days. They had a delicious dinner that was made with love, had a few drinks in the comfortable bar and continued on to their comfortable chalets where they slept the night. On their first full day of the tour, they had the chance to experience a full day open vehicle game drive in the Kruger National Park.
A bit more about the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is the largest wildlife park in South Africa and covers about 19,485m² of ground differentiating between mountains, bush plains and tropical ground. It is not only home to the Big 5 which is the leopard, elephant, lion, rhino and buffalo, but also to hundreds of other mammals, bird species, reptiles, amphibians and fish. An interesting fact is that there are about 254 known cultural heritage sites in the Kruger National Park, including about 125 recorded rock art sites.
A visit to the Kruger National Park is truly one of the top 10 on every traveler’s bucket list.
Entering the Kingdom
On the third day, they departed to The Kingdom of Swaziland. It is named the Kingdom because Swaziland is the last absolute monarchy in Africa and is currently ruled by King (Ngwenyama) Mswati III. On their first day in Swaziland, they were just spoilt by the absolute beauty of this country. From the beautiful mountain ranges to the inspiring infrastructure to the proud culture of the Swazis. Not one bored moment – without a doubt! They overnighted in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of Swaziland’s most popular nature sanctuaries. As one enters Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, you will see hundreds and thousands of snares that was found when Mlilwane was proclaimed and became a conservation sanctuary. Here, they are extremely passionate about wildlife and one will encounter many signs, stating the animals have right of way. Mlilwane means “little fire” in Siswati. It was named after the nearby granite mountain that was often struck by lightning and resulted in small fires.
Two of Swaziland’s treasures…
On the fourth day, on their way back to Johannesburg, South Africa, they visited two of Swazilands most popular sites. First of it was Swazi Candles. Established in 1982, is the candle making factory, Swazi Candles. All their candles are handmade from either paraffin wax or 100% organic soya candle tea lights. Their products include wax encased LED lights, pure vegetable glycerine soaps and marula oil bodybalm. Guests are welcome to interact with and watch artisans perform their magic. They currently export to over 20 countries. Secondly they visited Ngwenya Glass Factory. Ngwenya Glass now employs 70 workers, six of which is from the original team. You might think, what is so special about glass animals? Well, each and every item is handmade and mouth blown from 100% recycled glass. People from all over Swaziland collect bottles and are paid per kilo for clean glass by Ngwenya Glass. These beautiful items can be seen worldwide! Ngwenya Glass also does their conservation duties – they organize environmental cleanup days and encourage schools to contribute. If this is not enough, they also have Swaziland’s most successful wildlife conservation fund, known as the Ngwenya Glass Rhino and Elephant fund – all proceeds directly contributes to saving these beautiful and endangered animals.
And then there was Johannesburg
After four days of touring and seeing beautiful wildlife, agriculture, nature, African culture etc, etc, it was time to head back to the city. En route, they stopped at a restaurant in Pretoria, known as Bronberg Restaurant that served traditional South African food with beer on tap. This was thoroughly enjoyed!
After drop-off at OR Tambo International Airport, it can definitely be said that that this trip was not just for a stamp! There was enough beauty and adventure to write many stories about, and this group is sure to return for some more “Africa” in their blood!