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Camel World  



Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home


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17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles


Just Chilling

My original plan was to pass through Swaziland with a couple of days at Manzini for some sight-seeing, then straight on to Kruger NP.

The best laid plans etc etc.....

I'd picked out the Swaziland Backpackers as the most likely stop, and it was definitely the right choice - a very chilled place with a pool and so perfect for a few days of R&R.

Manzizni is a pretty non-descript sort of place - a mall or two, and a market with the usual African wares, and a special overpriced tourist section. I was chatting to one of the traditional remedy suppliers when a German tour group barged in on our conversation. What followed was such a parody of stereotypical behaviour that I couldn't not record it...

In a decisive frontal attack the guide cut in with a demand for information - while we were in mid-conversation - no hello or how are you; "Wat is dat?", she barked, pointing at a pile of what looked like something you'd feed to your rabbit. How on earth can you do that if you're a guide? you're supposed to have a grasp of cultural norms, surely...

She was probably pointing to peeling from some veggie stew he was preparing for lunch, but ever a businessman the herbalist replied "Vitamin Soup". Shame she didn't buy it.

The highlight of the market is, curiously, found behind a line of stalls to the rear of the market. Here the locals play fiercely fought games of draughts. The rules are completely different from those I'm used to - any piece can move backwards, but a king can travel any distance in a straight line.

Each move is executed in a blur of speed, with the counter slapped loudly down on the bard with each move. Here be masters of the game.

Driving through Swaziland is a refreshing return to real Africa after the palpable tensions of much of SA. Of course the people generally seem to be far better off than is the case in the rest of black Africa, and the roads are great, but you once again get cheerful waves and smiles. Here is an anachronism - a kingdom governed by an absolute monarch in the traditions of old Africa.
The Hlane Rhinos

After an appropriate amount of chilling I decided to head to Hlane national park with Steen and Lisbeth, a couple of Danes who were en-route to Cape Town. Hlane has a reputation for great rhino viewing - their breeding program has been highly successful. We arrived late, and checked in to the camp site a dusk - we were the only campers.

As we prepared our mammoth brai the skies darkened and lighting played on the horizon. We almost managed to have out BBQ al fresco, but a little rain at the last moment had us sheltering in the kitchen block for dinner. Then it dried out again and we sat drinking wine and watching natures fantastic light display - sheets of lightening coming fast and furious, and every few minutes the skyline illuminated with a rosy glow as a trees burned

The next morning we hired a guide who took us into the enclosures containing lions and cheetah - it's not the same as seeing free-roaming cats, but it makes for pretty much guaranteed game viewing - we saw a group of young lions almost immediately, and moving into the cheetah enclosures we stalked a cheetah on foot, getting to within a couple of metres. I was pretty impressed at this point, but the guide's next trick was to have us creep up on a couple of white rhino.

White rhino, as apposed to black rhino, are cautious creatures and will run away at your approach - the black ones are more likely to try to kill you. We got to within ten metres before the appalling short sighted rhino caught our scent and bolted.

After all that excitement we went for a game drive through what is a really beautiful park. Driving along a straight track we saw four rhino a hundred meters ahead of us - two mothers with their babies. We stopped an approached on foot, leaving about fifty meters as a safe distance in case the mothers decided to get protective. One never really thinks of rhino as being playful, but here were two baby rhinos cavorting like puppies. We watched for a good five minutes before some idiot decided to drive up, and scare them away.