Friday 5th June Mozambique Ponta d’Oura
Crossed the border today. Nice easy crossing provided you are prepared fo the standard charges including insurance. Worked out about R200 for visa and R150 for insurance. Used Carnet no problem. I arrive at the campsite in Ponta d’Oura and am disappointed to see how much it costs R100 per person at the weekend. The place is definitely geared to quite wealthy South African tourists and I hear they are planning to turn the campsite into an expensive resort. All the staff are touting for little jobs to do and I am a bit of a disappointment to them as are a Dutch couple who have hired a vehicle for 6 months. I am invited to join a large family for dinner but have already eaten so just have a snack out of politeness. They are very nice but heavily into the local rum. The guy doing the cooking is working in Iraq as a security consultant and another of the guys is on leave for a knee operation.
Saturday 6th June 09 Ponta d’Oura.
I will only stay one more day here. It is too false for me. I need to get out a bit and I also need to make progress towards Kruger. I have a lazy day chatting to people and generally having fun until I meet a man who, I am afraid to say, is from the dark ages. Seems to want to pick a fight for no reason and comes out with some pretty horrifying words. Pretty much ruins the visit and I pack in order to make an early start tomorrow.
Sunday 7th June 09 To Swaziland
I make an early start and am soon off on the sand roads. Almost miss a turn off and am pointed in the right direction by some friendly police in a Landcruiser who I follow as they know the right tracks to take when the main track has become awkward. I pass them as they stop in a town with the bonnet up. They signal they have it in hand so I carry on. About half an hour later they steam past on a track which appeared to be going off at an angle but is obviously the new good road. I pass through 2 friendly police barriers and shortly after the nice police have pulled over at the end of their journey and look as though they are genuinely happy as they wave me past. What a contrast to yesterday. I decide to go via Maputo but am not keen to stay in big cities and so will only travel through. There is a ferry which costs 200 Meticas (about £5) and we are packed on like sardines. I am luck to be last on as this gets me off first. Sad for a car which raced past me about an hour before as it looks like they will be last off. I see a few instances of people being flagged down by police and I make sure I stay in the outside lane as it appears to be the one which gets past. On arrival at the small border post in Manaacha I get through reasonably quickly. They stamp my carnet out but at the Swazi post wont stamp it in saying that it is unnecessary. I get to the customs barrier and am asked if I have anything I shouldn’t. The item I don’t know about is raw meat. They have foot and mouth precautions. Strangely they don’t seem interested in either taking the meat from me or having me throw it away. I am asked if I have the facility to cook it. So picture if you will me at the border between Mozambique and Swaziland cooking a steak to make sure I conform to customs regulations. Into Swaziland and I am bombarded by various checkpoints. None are any trouble but are quite annoying. I take a scenic tour and end up at a backpackers place in Nsoko which is being looked after by the staff as the owners are away. They don’t have any beer but send me 3km away to the army base which sells beer to the public provided you promise to bring the bottle back!
Monday 8th June 09 to Hlalwane
I set off and take my bottle back. The guard on the gate thinks I wanted to shop and stops me on the way out as he is on the phone to the owner telling him to open up as he has a customer. I set him straight and they wave me on my way. I arrive at the game park which has a backpackers within it. The girls at the rest camp point me to them but say they don’t think they take roof tents. I head down and sure enough they don’t. I call back at the rest camp and they have camping. Wish they’d said before. I go for a game drive and it is quite nice with a pool where there are both crocs and hippos. I set up my camp and head to see if there is anyone at the bar. I talk with the staff till they close at……..6.30pm!!!
Tuesday 9th June 09 Hlawane to Hazyview.
The weather here in Swaziland has been wet and misty so there is no real chance of seeing the mountain scenery. I decide to reposition in order to visit Kruger Park. I head through the mountains to the small border post near Barberton. It is not too difficult a road but if it rained a bit more would become treacherous. At the border they don’t stamp my carnet even though I ask. I am not sure this is right and will have to fix this to prevent confusion at later border posts. I arrive at Bushpackers near Hazyview which is a well named town today.