That photo may not seem exciting to you, but it’s holy ground for most South Afrcans. It was Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto before he was arrested.
From Johannesburg we went straight to Swaziland which, for the geography challenged, is a little landlocked country between northeast South Africa and Mozambique. It’s famous for being the only absolute monarchy left in the world, though there are obviously many absolute dictatorships. The government isn’t any worse there, it seems, than anywhere else. It seems the king is holding up his end of the social contract. That said, the HIV rate has gone from 4% in 1992 to about 35% now. The culture is such that people are pretty carefree about sex. The king has 130 sisters and 67 brothers. He has only 19 chilodren himself. Still, the culture of do it till you drop contiues. So, it’s still Africa, as they say around here.
We stayed there for three days. Transportation isn’t to easy around here, so we decided to return to South Africa and go to Kruger National Park. While we were there, we went to Mliliwane National Park and looked at the savannah and hills there. It’s pretty compact and only entailed about 12 km of walking. There are no lions, so you can walk. There are many zebras, crocodiles, a few hippos, ostriches, different anteopes and othe anmals. We have pictures, but when I was n a place where I could upload them, the connection was so slow I couldn’t upload everything I want. There will be plenty of animal pictures in upsoming blogs, I assure you.
I have a couple of pictures of the market in the capital, Mbabane.
These distances are not great. Jo’burg to Swazilamd is only about 5 hours by minibus. Back to Nelspruit, outside Kruger, was only about 3 hours, including the border stuff.
In Nelspruit we met a couple form Missouri and rented acar with them to go to Kruger. Kruger is a big park the size of Isreal. It is teeming with life and very beautiful. You drive around almost by yourself. There are a few paved roads and many dirt and gravel. You really doen’t see many other vehickles on the secondary roads. You have to stay inside your car except at maybe 20 designated spots. That’s so you don’t get eaten. Some places post a guard.
We didn’t read the rules when we went in, so for a couple of hours we got out two or three times. Then a passerby informed us we would be summarily kicked out if we were caught outside our vehicle. This low quality picture gives you an idea of the perspective we had on most of the big animals.
I have a good rhino picture, but internet access is spotty and the connection is slow. South Africa is supposed to get widespread DSL in a few months. Anyway, I uploaded some pictures, but really, you’ve seen it all on TV nature shows. I’ll show you what I got uploaded before I ran out of time at the place where I could access a USB port.
We left here with out new friends from Missouri at 5 AM and opened the park at 6. The morning and the evening is the best time to see animals. Besides, we wanted to get the most for our money. We spent two full days driving in there.
Here are impalas and wildebeasts.
Here is a cape buffalo.
Here are hippos and an elephant. After that , you’ll recognize them.
That mother and her calf got irritated with us being there and started movig toward us. I experienced an elephant charge in India. We boogied, preempted any close encounters.
There are so, so many animals. There are a few places with accommodation and camping sites, which we utilized. My father once said about my mother, “Her idea of roughing it is breakfast on the veranda.” Here, you can rough it on the veranda and have an espresso or beer, like Myung and our friends here, and look at the crocs and hippos. Ahhh, it’s sweet.
We left the park I the nick of time. It turns out that if you are on the road and not in a campground by 5:30 closing time, you get fined $110 per person. Yow! We were trying to get to the gate on time, but had to wait for herds of buffalo, impalas and giraffes while they crossed the road. We got out at 5:28.
We camped at a lodge in Hazyview, just outside the park. The downside of traveling now is that it sure gets dark early. Shoot. Oh well. This camping is great. So far, South Africa is really set up for it, with nice ammenites at places which bill themselves as having campsites. I think it will be like that most of the time in Southern Africa. The next day we set out on a drive called The Panorama. It’s a series of views along the edge of the Drakensburg escapment west of Kruger. That was a nice daylong drive. Here are the photos.
I’m sorry, but that’s all I’ve uploaded. It really is very beautiful around here. And what I like the most is it just seems different from what I’ve seen before. I’m getting a little jaded so different is good. Even the plants and flowers are different.
Right now, we are hanging out in Nelspruit. I want to buy a car in Mozambique, where they are cheap. A guy here who buys a car every time he comes form Mozambique, which s often, was going to give me his car dealer, but he hasn’t done it yet. Now I hear he’s not returning from whatever he’s doig in South Africa until tomorrow. I guess I’ll go to Maputo the day after tomorrow.
That’s really where we are at at this moment. I’m going to send his off. Be well, all of you.