Day 5 of our holiday to Swaziland (6th April): This morning we woke up and went with our room partners as we did normally for breakfast, as we walked in we bumped into Jenny so we apologised for last night and she laughed and said “don’t worry, I just wanted to let you know before you said anything embarrassing and not realise everyone could hear” we had a good giggle about it over breakfast. Today was meant to be horse riding safari day but due to the rain that had settled over Swaziland Jenny had decided it wouldn’t be nice to do that today so bless her she was running around like a headless chicken trying to rearrange the horse riding for tomorrow and reschedule tomorrow’s schedule today which for England would be a complete faff but in Swaziland everyone is so relaxed and they swapped things round so easily and didn’t bat an eyelid. So we went to Gone Rural where they showed us the process of how they used the grass to make coasters and bowls etc which was fascinating and we went into the shop and had a look around and I bought a set of 4 table mats, 4 coasters and a table runner for £20. Everything was so cheap in Swaziland it was incredible but so well made! We then went on to see how they made the candles and the batik pieces which I was so hoping to buy and we were able to do in the shop a bit further on from where we saw it being made. We saw an elephant candle being carved which was amazing the speed they had to do it at before the wax set, we also got to see soap being made and then how the process of the batik wall hangers and cushion covers were made which was incredibly creative and they turn out so beautiful I had to buy at least one but ended up with 2 when we went into the shop which are now proudly displayed on my wall in my new bedroom 🙂 I also bought a t-shirt with 2 zebras and 2 giraffes on the front with the words “kingdom of Swaziland” underneath and I persuaded Sarah to buy a Shawl which she loved and to be honest didn’t take much persuasion from me! Lol. We then went back to our beehives, I asked Sarah where my room partner was and she told me “she is over there together with Chris doing something”, I burst out laughing because of the way she said it which made her laugh hysterically and we were both bent over with laughter and finally when my room partner came she said “what are you two up to now” We finally stopped laughing, my room partner said she and Chris were going for a walk and she asked if we wanted to join them stating Carol was coming too so we agreed, gave ourselves 15mins before we went out for a walk around the park, we went to reception where they showed us the best route to go “the hippo trail” which would take about an hour which suited us perfectly so we signed out and off we went. We were told we must be quiet if we are to see anything which we knew obviously as it wasn’t fair but Sarah had this effect on me I couldn’t explain but we did behave apart from when Sarah wanted to hurry along the team a little but she was given a telling off and told to go ahead if she didn’t want to wait so she shut up after that! On that walk we saw lots of Impalas, Blesbok again and Wildebeast and we were the first ones to see a hippo who was casually sitting in the water looking right at us. It was quite a rocky path with some steep hills but we made it round and at the very end thanks to someone reminding me we saw Vervet Monkeys well I didn’t but the others did swinging from the trees and we were so excited coming back having seen the hippo that we wanted to make everyone jealous at dinner. We had a good laugh at dinner and I tried Impala meatballs which were very nice but I did feel sorry for the poor Impalas bless them but some have to be killed anyway due to the growing numbers and not many predators at that game park. We then went to bed hoping that tomorrow would be brighter and we would finally get to do the horse riding. My room partner and I spoke very quietly that evening and we went to bed quite early because we were getting tired by this point because the days had been full on which was good because it meant we made the most out of every moment of every day.
Day 4 of holiday to Swaziland (5th April): We got up had breakfast, bags had to be out of room for 9:30 and we had to meet at bus for 10am. The journey took about an hour, on our way in just before we arrived Jenny saw a boomslang snake run out in front of the mini bus. We had to wait in the bus whilst Jenny went to find out if our accommodation was ready yet. It wasn’t quite ready yet so we went for a drive through the big game park’s reserve Mlilwane where we would be staying. We got to touch a termite mound even though I’m not sure we were supposed to but we heard wrong so hope it didn’t do it any harm! We saw Blesbok and Impalas and the blue wildebeast. We then went back to the beehive huts because they were ready, we put our bags in and went straight for lunch where I decided to go for a chicken mayo sandwich and chips but I’m not quite sure the sandwich agreed with me as I felt sort of ill afterwards but thank goodness it didn’t last long and I begun to feel better. We went for a bit of a walk before settling into our huts and to get ready for our first game drive at 4:15pm that day. Getting into those jeeps was certainly not an easy task for me lol but I had some very nice hunky guides to lift me in and out and once we were all in it was ready to go, we were allowed 2 drinks for our safari drive so I chose grape tizer and lemon twist which were both very nice but I didn’t have both knowing I would need the loo,1 can was bad enough lol! On the game drive we saw lots of Impala and a few male Impala all alone which the guides called Losers because they hadn’t won a group of female Impala lol! We also saw Blesbok again mostly solitary so they were also losers, we saw wildebeast, the Burchell Zebra and a crocodile. We also heard the sound of the hippo which sounds quite scary but we didn’t see them on that game drive. We also heard and people saw lots of different birds, these include: hadida ibis, sacred ibis, ground scraper thrush, forked drongo, pied kingfisher, pied wagtail, Little brown job, water thickney, spotted thickney, beeater, red bishop and the pale chanting goshawk. We also got told about the eucalyptus trees and why they have to be destroyed because they take in too much water and about the poisonous tree (sausage tree) Kiegalia but that it’s used to cure cancer. I may have got this mixed up but we also learnt about Jezebel the oldest Game drive car and got to feel different skulls of different animals. In the evening we got told about the meaning of Mlilwane “little fire” and how they had kept it alight and burning since 1964! If it rains they put a cover on so it never goes out. In the pond behind the restaurant lives crocodiles, hippos, Terrapins or turtlees as they say but they mean turtles lol! Then Jenny went through the things we had done over the past few days whilst Jack did his usual giving us our day partners for the following day. Inside the grounds of Mlilwane lives Nyala I think, Impala and warthogs. Then it was bedtime and because my room partner and I hadn’t spoken all day due to the way things had worked out we had to catch up on each other’s news etc but what we didn’t know was that the beehives had no insulation and everyone could hear our conversation so it was only when Jenny cause she was next to us came knocking and whispering that she could hear every word and she didn’t want us going into some embarrassing conversation and everyone hearing it, we apologised and Jenny just laughed and said it was very interesting and made her smile so we felt better about it but didn’t talk so loudly from then on lol! We then went to sleep ready for day 5.
Day 3 of my holiday to Swaziland (4th April): Today was a busy day. First we went to Maguga Dam so we could have a boat trip on the dam which was unfortunately incredibly low due to the drought they had experienced so instead of a 1 hour boat trip we could only do 30mins. We learnt all about the dam, when it was first built, when it was last at its fullest point and how many years it takes for the dam to get to its capacity, I found it very interesting and tranquil even though there were supposedly crocodiles and hippos in the dam we didn’t see them thank goodness! We then got back on board the bus and went to visit Sipo’s homestead to meet his mum and dad and see his village which had a Parliament House were they would take people who had had disagreements etc and put it right, we found out where they keep their cattle, were chickens lay their eggs on side of the crawl (cattle barn) in nests made for them and about a little cat who is there to catch “mouses”. The swazi’s have a unique way of saying certain things and it’s quite cute! Definitely made me smiles :). We tried sugar cane which was lovely and met the children before heading back via a very muddy, rocky path. We then headed to Maguga lodge for lunch and to see some traditional dancing which was incredibly entertaining and then Sipo tried to imitate which had us in stitches. Over lunch we had the discussion about how to say “Pap” the correct way but I didn’t get it right according to Sarah so I gave up and after this me and Sarah got on so well we had each other in hysterics constantly, just thinking about it makes me chuckle! The traditional dancing especially from the girls was something incredibly special which normally only happens during the reed dance in August so we felt incredibly privileged to see this in full action and in the beautiful traditional dress. We then got back in the bus, Jack did his counting again and we went back to the hotel where I went for a swim with Carol (my sighed guide), Anja and Dietmar (The Germans), Christine, Jo and Jack and Jo M sat on the side watching us. We had a great time, lots of laughs, a good swim and then we went back to our rooms, had a bath and then rested before Jack’s and Jenny’s chat and dinner which again was a variety of different foods to try all very nice. Then it was bedtime ready for the next day.
Day 2 of Swaziland: We made our way through Johannesburg airport after being warned not to accept any help from people offering their services as we had our transfer minibus waiting outside. I have to say walking through the airport I didn’t feel safe but we were soon out in a big circular area where we met Sepo (I think) who was our minibus driver. He and Jack loaded the suitcases into the little trailer at the back and we got on the bus via a very tall step which I struggled to get up as we were seated at the front so didn’t have the steps to help us but I got a push up from my sighted guide which made us laugh and then we climbed into our seats. We had more travelling now to do, 4 hours in total to get to our first hotel. We stopped halfway through at a service station where people immediately were gobsmacked when they spotted a Nandos because they couldn’t believe they could have a Nandos in Africa! We resisted the temptation to go in and just went to have a leg stretch, look around the shops, pop to the ladies and then outside of this service station was a water hole where we sat and watched Water Buffalo, Ostriches and Emu’s and possibly a couple of rhino grazing, what an amazing and unique service station to start off our adventure! After about 30mins we boarded the bus again with Jack counting to make sure we were all here saying “it wouldn’t look good on me if I lost someone at the very beginning before we even get into Swaziland” we all laughed, he closed the door, got in and we went on our way to our first destination but we had to pass through the South African and into Swaziland boarder which fortunately wasn’t complicated. We arrived at just after 12pm where we were greeted by Ruth who runs the Forresters Arms in Mbabane and Jenny our fantastic tour guide who would be with us for the rest of the trip. They had the fire roaring because they were cold whilst we were lovely and warm and slowly began to roast as we sat in the room where the fire was so our cardigans and jumpers etc came off so we were just in tshirts. They delivered our suitcases to our rooms and gave us our keys so we could go to the loos and sort ourselves out before having lunch in the restaurant. I decided to stick with something healthy as I didn’t feel like eating much still due to my nerves so I had lots of salad, some ham and some bread and then I think I had dessert after as I was feeling a bit better by this point and was quite hungry after not eating much on the plane and during the transfer to the hotel. After lunch we were asked if we fancied a walk with Jenny which all of us wanted as we needed a leg stretch so she said we should meet outside the hotel at 4pm I think, we were then given wifi codes and we were then given a bit of time to settle into our rooms before the walk. The walk was through a woodland with not much there wildlife wise apart from a few birds but it was lovely and quiet and seemed like just what I needed to loosen up my legs. We then got back around 5:30, had a little rest before we had dinner at 7pm meeting at 6:30pm for Jack and Jenny to do their spiel regarding the following day. Our drinks were bought by Jenny to welcome us to this amazing little kingdom. We moved into the restaurant then for dinner where I had mixed creamy vegetable soup for starters, I can’t remember what I had for dinner or dessert but it was all very nice smile emoticon. Then we went to bed to get some proper sleep which we had been deprived of during the flight so that we were ready to face our first busy day on 4th April.
Day 1 of my holiday was spent travelling. Arrived at the airport just after 3pm on 2nd April met up with a couple of travellers coming on the trip, had a drink with them before ringing Tour Manager Jack to tell him of our arrival so he turned up to introduce himself before heading to the meeting point within the airport. Just before 4 we made our way to the meeting point where we got introduced to the rest of travellers who were all very nice, down to earth people. We checked in and got our bags sorted before heading for a look around the airport and buy anything we needed before we boarded the flight to Johannesburg. We arrived at the boarding point at 6:10 I think but were the last ones there which we didn’t realise as we thought we would get there early but the others got there first! We got priority boarding which was good but we were sat away from the rest of group which didn’t really matter and I had my sighted guide next to me who was lovely. The flight left at 19:05 and was an 11 hour flight but it was better because it was overnight. I felt really nervous so didn’t really fancy eating much food but I ate as much as I could, I then tried to go to sleep which was sort of successful but woke up early hours not knowing the time and wishing we were nearly there as I needed the loo but didn’t want to wake the people next to me so had to hold on till morning which seemed like an age away lol! Finally the lights came on around 6 I think and they brought round breakfast which was nice considering it was plane food. Once the guy next to me on my left had woken up we went to the loo thank goodness I felt so relieved! We arrived at just after 7am on 3rd April in Johannesburg were we had to go through passport control and retrieve our bags before transferring to Swaziland by minibus. Day 2 of trip to follow tomorrow.