There comes a time when you need to hit the road. Hard. Take some time off. Escape from the slog of everyday life. Experience new scenery, company, food and more scenery. A road trip isn’t necessarily about where you’re going but more about just going. Anywhere. And with whom you are going.
On short notice a friend suggested we do a road trip. It sounded like an excellent idea at the time and it turned out to be just that. I didn’t really mind where to as long as I could point my camera at some new interesting, refreshing and dramatic landscapes I was in for the ride.
It was a week before Easter weekend and we hadn’t made a single reservation but my partner in crime, Mr. H came through strong and managed to find us sleeping place for every night bar the last night. This is just a summary of where we did what and some of my favourite photos from the trip.
Day 1 Road trip
Starting off in White River we made our way to the Kruger National Park’s Numbi Gate. Maybe it was the drought, maybe it was the time of day but our day through the park was quite uneventful. Apart from a pack of wild dogs in the shade and a pride of lions 300 meters across the river from where we were we didn’t see much action. This was more than made up for though by excellent music and ice cold refreshments in the car. We did exit at Crocodile Bridge next to Komatipoort where Mr. H wanted to do some tiger fishing in the Komati River. A strong wind picked up which would bring miserable weather the next day.
Filling up with some very “cheap” R9.96/liter diesel we made our way to the Buffalo Bar in Hectorspruit for sundowners before driving the short hop to Inkuba Game Lodge. The neat and spacious self-catering tented camp was a real treat after the long day on the road. It’s excellent value for money too at R350/person/night.
Day 2 Road trip
After coffee and rusks the next morning we headed for the Jeppes Reef Swaziland border post. Entry was no problem even though my panel van’s tail was dragging due to our “refreshment” cache that was replenished at Komatipoort. We made sure we had plenty of stock for at least the next few days through Swaziland. The weather was getting worse and we hit the mist and rain as we headed up the pass just before Pigg’s Peak.
Mr. H hadn’t been to the impressive Maguga Dam before so we headed down the Komati River valley. A spur of the moment idea for some fishing led to an unexpected journey into the very empty dam and it turned out to be a great afternoon of fun. To walk inside the eerie landscape of the dam where it normally would be submerged under thirty meters of water was quite surreal and made for some excellent long exposure photos.
Another bonus was that we were out of the rain and wind which was prevalent at the higher altitudes. After climbing the steep wall back up to the car we headed to Malolotja Nature Reserve, a short 15 minute drive from the dam.
It’s been about eight years since I had last been there and it still looked pretty much the same. It is an amazing place. It is pristine Swaziland in all its glory. It was freezing cold and our first priority was a fire in our cottage. An early seven kilometer hike the next morning delivered some breathtaking landscapes with clouds still swirling in the valleys.
An absolute must here is the canopy tour. One of only six in Southern Africa, it is located in a steep gorge in the park. Safety is paramount, and the system has been built to the highest civil engineering standards. Guides are trained professionals and this breath taking experience can be enjoyed by people of all ages. There are eleven zip lines zig zagging across the gorge as well as a suspension bridge. Watch Mr. H in action on one of them.
Time was tight as our next stop for the day was Sibebe Rock, close to Mbabane. “Sibebe Rock”, an 800-meter-high monolith in, is the second largest exposed granite pluton in the world (after Ayers Rock in central Australia). After a quick beer in Mbabane and finding our accommodation for the evening we made our way to Sibebe. Dusk was a mere two hours away and we really wanted to climb it. Apparently there is a difficult direct route up but we couldn’t find the starting point so we instead started from the tourist point which approaches a long way from the north. We tried our best and climbed the height but in the end we had to admit defeat and watch the top of the rock from two kilometers away as the sun was setting behind the mountains. The hike was very scenic and easy to follow with yellow markers painted on rock all along the way.
Back at Bombaso’s Backpackers we met up with a few Americans working in Swaziland. We were spent though as we had hiked 17 kilometers during the day including a tough ascent. We had to be up early the next morning to make our way to Jozini via Big Bend. The tigers were waiting…