// Nikon D7200 |-26.49745 : 31.18498 | alt. 693m

Crossing the border is straight forward, nothing to do on the South African side, but this time, the customs officer put down the end date of my visa 6th july….. that’s coming soon, should be enough to cover everything before Botswana. I’m still hoping to get an extension on the way out of Swaziland !

Getting into Swaziland was really easy. All done in 5 min, I had to pay 50rand for a toll road, no paper at all for the vehicle, no inspection, just a smile and I was in 🙂
Today is overcast, with some big dark clouds, I may get some rain, and it gives a pretty dark face to this country famous for his hospitality. It looks a bit like Lesotho at first, very basic houses, lot of garbbages in the nature and along the roads, but no big majestic mountains or impressive landscapes. After a few minutes driving here, I was wondering what was I doing here !

First stop was Mlilwane Nature Sanctuary, and it was the beginning of my love for Swaziland. Despite its size, this country has 3 large national parks, and this is one of them. These parks also accept the wild card from South Africa, so you get in for free and only have to pay for camping and food.
This park is very particular and was highly recommended by other overlanders : there is no big predator here, so you can hike inside the park !! Yup ! And it makes a big difference, and thrust me, it’s a totally different experience to walk among zebras, wildebeest and antelopes. It feels like walking in Africa ! A good trail to take is the hippo one, taking a few hours. Very good place for birding as well, and you will have some close encounters with all the animals of the park (sadly, no hippo, or maybe thankfully :D)
The campsite area, as well as the restaurant are not fenced, so animals are free to roam everywhere, which they do ! Antelopes and warthogs are eating at the campground like I’m not even there !
I love it.
This park is also very nice, I mean nice landscapes, and rivers, nothing like the big reserves of Namibia or South Africa (which are flat, with some bush and plenty of animals in a fenced area) This place is incredibly relaxing, and I could wonder around for weeks. No big animal to see, but still a true paradise.
The restaurant was very good as well, and for once, I had to try the braai, done ! Love this place so much !!

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Champagne castle peak

  // Nikon D7200 |-28.99874 : 29.44653 | alt. 1187m The park ranger office only opens from 8am to 4pm, a pretty short window to get any information, which makes me start the trail at 9am. They gave me the map, but even on this one, there is no trail going to Champagne castle ! They…

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Rhino peak

  // Nikon D7200 |-29.7457 : 29.20678 | alt. 1855m Back into South Africa for some serious hiking ! Probably the most beautiful mountain range in the area, the Drakensberg are these steep mountains (nearly vertical cliffs !) between South Africa and the high plateau of Lesotho. The whole place is a national park, with hundreds…

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Sani pass

  // Nikon D7200 | -29.58216 : 29.28429 | alt. 2875 m Driving on the roof of Africa as they call it. Such a good name since this is the highest place in southern Africa. A few very high passes on the way (one above 3300m !) which I had to climb in second gear, while…

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Bokong pass

  // Nikon D7200 | -29.06433 : 28.40553 | alt. 3100m Back to the national park, I took a guide to hike in the area (yeah, no map, and barely no sign on the trail system). Fact is, you don’t need a guide to hike in Lesotho, it’s very easy to navigate and to find your…

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Katse dam

  // Nikon D7200 | -29,34412 : 28,51311 | alt. 2125m this morning, I was expecting to wake up with the sunrise over the Katse dam, but instead, I had the visit of a security guy…… He ended up being very friendly, and he was just worried about me since this place is not so safe,…

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Semonkong waterfall

  // Nikon D7200 | -29.84404 : 28.04383 | alt. 2191m Long and absolutely beautiful drive across the mountains of Lesotho to reach Semonkong. Only 150kms, but it took me a few hours with 50kms of gravel roads and some terrible sections, but even the tar part wasn’t a piece of cake. You can tell…

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First steps in Lesotho

  // Nikon D7200 | -29.82772 : 27.5997 | alt. 1822m After a freezing night (it went to -2 inside the van), I had a lot of work before leaving South Africa. Winter is hard in Lesotho, which is mostly above 2000m, and there is a good chance of snow on the way. And since most…

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Mountain Zebras park

  // Nikon D7200 | -32.13374 : 25.62377 |alt. 989m Away from the garden route and the main touristic destinations, the beautiful Mountain Zebra national park is a well hidden jewel. You can tell no one is going there when you get to the small village next door, pretty empty and desolated, with no backpacker, no…

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Desolation valley

  // Nikon D7200 | -32.2685 : 24.52582 | alt. 798m Before jumping to Mountain Zebra national park, I saw some interesting pictures of desolation valley on the west side, and I had to check out this place. In the end, not much to do, the park is fairly small, the main trail being a 20min…

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