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Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland; Hluhluwe/Infolozi Game Reserve

SOUTH AFRICA | Tuesday, 16 December 2014 | Views [436]

Adorable baby warthog

Adorable baby warthog

On the morning of December 13, he drove south out of Kruger National Park, and left South Africa to cross the border into Swaziland.  Swaziland is the last absolute monarchy in Africa.  It was a British protectorate during the colonial period (the Swazis wanted protection from the Zulus to the south), and gained its independence in 1968.  Swaziland is only 120 miles north to south, and 80 miles east to west; it’s bordered on three sides by South Africa, and by Mozambique to the east.

We spent the night at Milwane Wildlife refuge, in authentic beehive huts (the electricity and the adjoining bathrooms weren’t so authentic, but were really nice to have).  We had good food, a Swazi war dance demonstration from some local villagers, and a great nature walk the following morning.

Then we continued on south to Hluhluwe/Infolozi Game Reserve back in South Africa.  This area, near the southeast coast, is gorgeous rolling hills, quite green and lush, very different from what we had seen in the northern parks.  We went on another early morning walk with a park ranger, who entertained us with lots of stories about altercations with animals while out walking with tourists.  He said he even once hit a charging rhino with his walkie-talkie to avoid shooting him, and he has frantically climbed more thorny acacia trees than he can count.  Another time, a roaring lion approached his group, then other lions (all roaring) started rising from the grass until he counted 17 total.  He fired his rifle in the dirt toward the closest lion, then he and his people backed away slowly and lived to tell the tale.

We didn’t have anything quite that exciting happen to us, although he did spot a rhinoceros is the bushes at one point.  Instead of telling us to quietly back away, we actually whispered to us to follow him closer!  It turned out to be two young males, who decided to run off when they finally got wind of us, instead of charging and trampling us underfoot.

We were also treated to a ride on a flat-bottom boat in the St Lucia Wetlands Park, saw crocs, birds, and lots of hippos.  Fact:  hippos are responsible for three times the human deaths in Africa as all other animals combined.

At Hluhluwe/Infolozi, we stayed at Hilltop Camp Lodge, perched on top of one of the rolling hills in the park, with amazing vistas off in all directions.  We could sip our drinks in the afternoon while watching elephants and buffalo on the hillsides below us.

That was the last of our game drives and big nature preserves, as we started to wind down our South Africa stay.  Next—Durban and Cape Town.


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