A lot has occurred since the start on expedition. One of the more prominent moments was when we met Nicola Stokes for the first time in Johannesburg airport. We all had planned to greet her with different accents. Dixon had planned to do his superb British accent, the more and more I hear it the less I can match it to anyone who actually lives in England. However this idea didn’t go to plan as everyone chickened out when it came to the actual greeting. However we were all pleased to have a new member to our group.
We stayed in Johannesburg for one night while Freddie had a quick check up on his strained back that continued to play up. To everyone’s great delight Fred was cleared as fit to carry on with Expedition and the next morning we set off.
The Journey from South Africa to Swaziland was our longest by bus so far totalling 6 hours. The swimming pool at Sondzelas was greatly appreciated when we arrived! We all spent the evening relaxing, playing pool and drinking cold beers. Nicola and I excelled at pool potting at least 1 ball every 15 minutes!! The next day was spent by the pool, horse riding and mountain biking. The horse riding was a leisurely trek through some of the stunning countryside that Swaziland has to offer. The mountain biking was more stimulating and four of us took up the challenge! By the next morning the weather had changed for the worse and due to heavy rain it was unsafe to wild camp for the start of the trek. Before heading out of Sondzelas me (Lily), James and Saz (team chuck it in) made pancakes to mark the start of lent.
With everyone packed and ready for the trek we headed over to the campsite and then proceeded on a four hour ramble. Sophie, Chaz, Han, Vic and I thought it would be adventurous to make our way to the top of the rock through a thicket of bushes…while the boys and Nic proceeded to go the easy way round. Half way up the slope Chaz slipped and fell in the bushes and all we could see was her legs flailing around in the air…it was hilarious I laughed for at least half an hour. Other eventful times of the trek included Dixon and his magic wand (part of a tent pole) which he used to guide the way. Back at camp we made supper and then as the others went to bed a few of us sat around to have our first cup of hot chocolate in 40 days. The next day the weather was much improved and we were able to wild camp and so headed off deep into Malalotja nature Reserve. Fred needed to rest his back and so together with Kate and Han they waited for our return.
That day we walked for 5 hours on tough terrain. When we reached our Camp site we enjoyed a Refreshing dip in the river. As night time fell we star gazed and introduced Nicola to the game of Mafia. The next day we got up bright and early ready for a long day ahead in comparison to the torrential rain the day before we awoke to boiling heat….we all started off with high spirits, however after making our way through bushes after failing to find a direct path for five hours some of us were less happy than others! Our guide was good at finding the direction but very slow. We all felt a relief as we found the road and it started to cool down. However, despite the complaints I felt that the satisfaction of finally reaching our goal and looking back on what we had done far outweighed the difficulties we had had on the trek.
We were all rewarded for our hard work by a burger from Sarah which was very well received. The next day was spent lounging be the pool…in the afternoon we prepared for Kate’s fake birthday by making her a Happy Birthday banner and a cake. Celebrations continued into the evening and Dixon presented Kate with a tiara, fake jewels and an elephant mask. The boys all wore orange for the occasion?! The next day we all headed for our next stop Sherwula Mountain Camp where Quest have previously worked. With continued heavy rain we took the opportunity to play poker. Hannah was pleased yet a little surprised to have won…not knowing what a flush had been half way through the game! The next day in torrential rain we packed up our tents and headed out of Swaziland and onto to Maputo the capital of Mozambique in search of drier weather, sea, sand and whale sharks!