Truck Day 9 – Eswatini

We leave at 8.30am well rested after our time at Miliwane Game Reserve. We drive to a local supermarket for the by now standard liquid refreshment restock. We also buy a couple of dresses for the beach, believe me you start to resent dusty shorts and t-shirts and hanker for a change of attire to freshen things up a bit when you’re constantly on the road in Africa.

Today’s destination is Hlane Royal Game Reserve. It’s a short 90 mins drive and when we arrive we put our tent up and take a walk down to the main water hole. We are absolutely staggered to see 15 rhinos all with their horns intact, on the shore of the waterhole. We debate amongst us how “zoo-like” and contrived this experience feels. We’ve all been on Game Drives throughout Africa and this doesn’t feel quite right. Hindsight however is a wonderful thing and we find out just how wrong we are later that afternoon. Following lunch of excellent cheeseburgers with salad we prepare for a rhino game drive at 1.30pm.

We have 2 safari trucks and the group splits in half with 5 in one truck and 5 in the other. 2 of the group decide to have the afternoon off, again its important when you’re on the road to ensure that you’re well rested as truck life can be quite arduous.

The Reserve has separate areas for white rhinos, black rhinos and lions. We will spend the afternoon in the white rhino area with hopefully another opportunity to walk on foot and get close to these strangely prehistoric creatures. As we drive around the Reserve we spot Impalas, Grey Snake Eagle, Marabou Stork, Nyalas, Kudus, Elephant, Giraffes, Guinea Fowl and Zebras. The bush is dry in complete contrast to the lush, fertile Reserve at Miliwane. There are a large number of dying trees in this area due to elephants destruction. Our ranger explains that they don’t chop them down as they are kept as vital habitats for birds, insects and reptiles.

We continue our drive and our ranger explains that the rhinos create areas around the park where they take a mud bath, toilet and have tree trunks to scratch on. A kind of rhino social club where they pick up the scents and smells of other rhinos who are in the area. We stop at one of these areas and the ranger advises that we are going to take a walk in the hope of spotting rhino. We don’t have to wait long as we quietly creep in single file to crouch behind a large fallen tree. A mother and her 2 month old baby walk within 10 feet of us for an absolutely heart racing adrenaline rushing experience We thought we’d got close to rhinos in Zimbabwe but this was on another level. Brownie filmed it and despite looking quite calm my heart rate was through the bloody roof.

Rhino close encounter

It’s another incredible pinch ourselves moment that this trip continues to deliver. We are so very privileged to be able to have the opportunity to experience rare animals in the wild like this. Dinner is a delicious curried chicken with Pap, an African staple that is similar in texture to polenta. It’s starchy and very filling. There’s no electricity at the camp and we shower in the flickering light of large oil lamps. We retire to our tent with big beaming smiles after another amazing day.

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