Into Swaziland, Bulembu

The border crossing into Swaziland is extremely quiet and relaxed, and we complete all the formalities quickly and easily. We hit a snag when we want to get a refund for the VAT (Tax) we paid on some large purchases in South Africa.

We’re assured we can do it at this very border, and inside customs a huge sign on the wall announces that fact. The South Africans assure us we can do it with Swazi Customs, though when we get there they assure us we must do it with South African customs. After walking back we continually get this run around, and two hours later we can see we’re getting nowhere. It would have been nice to get that refund, but oh well, TIA.

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The homes of the people that worked in the mine – don’t disturb the roofs!

Because Swazi is part of the whole South African customs union I don’t even need to get any paperwork for the Jeep – the 6 month import papers issued by South Africa are still good. Easy.

Immediately driving into Swazi everything feels different. People smile more. People are happy, kind and happy to chat in the streets. We feel a lot safer, and after buying gas from a very chatty attendant we find a perfect wild camp in a massive pine plantation. It feels great to wild camp again after so long paying for camping in South Africa. We didn’t feel safe enough there, though Swazi feels entirely different.

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The village of bulembu, built on the asbestos mine

We make our way around to the little town of Bulembu, which is a really nice surprise. It’s nestled in the mountains below Swazi’s highest mountain, and used to only exist due to the asbestos mine. When that mine shut down it seemed the town would die, though it reinvented itself as a tourist destination and we thoroughly enjoy wandering through the town and surrounds, hiking to a waterfall and camping basically right in town near the soccer field.

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Bulembu camping near the soccer field

Everyone is extremely friendly and eager to chat about the outside world.

In only two days I already love Swaziland!


2 Responses

  1. Mike Mann says:

    I have been following you for a few months and look forward to every post, especially now that you are in southern Africa. I’m especially excited about your upcoming visit to Zimbabwe where I grew up as a Missionary Kid in the Bulawayo and Matopo area. Take Care

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