Our group woke up this morning at 5:30am to catch a 6:00am cab to the bus station.
Instead of the one close by to the train station that’s listed in Lonely Planet that would take us to Swaziland, our cab drivers opted instead for the station called “Junta”, which is about a few miles southeast from Maputo (according to our taxi drivers, the one listed in Lonely Planet is closed).
Asking around for the bus to Swaziland, we were directed to a minibus/van that would only leave once it was filled (10 passengers).
We had considered buying the whole van for 1,040 South African Rands, but feeling bad for the other passengers who also wanted to go ASAP, we instead got our seats for 80 SAR per person.
After about 2 hours of driving, we reached the border between Swaziland and Mozambique, where a border guard first checked our passports.
After the brief passport check, we walked across to a nearby office to be stamped out of Mozambique.
Once we were stamped out, we walked across no man’s land out of Mozambique and into Swaziland.
Now that we were in Swaziland, we headed into another office to be stamped into Swaziland (free for USA citizens).
Afterwards we drove off for another 30 minutes before being stopped at a police checkpoint for another passport and visa stamp check.
Then it was another 2 hours before we arrived at the chaotic bus station in Manzini, Swaziland. At this point, it was around 11am.
Here you can withdraw cash from an ATM and purchase some snacks and drinks for the road.
We bribed our original bus driver 150 SAR to take us directly to our beautiful hostel, Sundowners Backpackers Lodge, near Malkerns.
After a leisurely lunch at Sundowners, which happens to make great food, we rode on the back of a pickup truck (with a random broccoli inside) to Mlilwane Wildlife Reserve. It costs 30 SAR per person for entry.
Once there, we paid 225 SAR per person for an hour of safari horseback riding. 3pm is their last call.
You can then wind down and relax afterwards with an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner here (all with stir fry impala meat, pork, potatoes, salad, cream of mushroom soup, chicken, chocolate cake, roobois tea, etc. etc.) for $12 USD a person. After dinner they’ll unveil a free Swazi cultural dance performance depending on the weather.
Right now we’re still having rounds of drinks and dinner within the Wildlife Reserve as random animals walk right around us. An antelope is nuzzling my neck right now as I’m blogging…
– At time of posting in Malkerns, Swaziland, it was 69.8 °F – Humidity: 29% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear