The good news about working in Swaziland is that we’re not confined to the area of the mission. We have the privilege of using the MSF cars on the weekends, as long as we stay in the country… And there is plenty to do in Swaziland (at least from my perspective).
My favorite thing to do is enjoy the wildlife and the landscapes. There are multiple game and nature reserves and I’ve been to all of them, twice. Swaziland has the “Big Five” (elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros (both black and white)) so the wildlife viewing is fantastic and the landscapes don’t disappoint either. While I haven’t seen a leopard in Swaziland, I have seen the others as well as zebras, giraffes, warthogs, wildebeest, various antelopes, and many, many birds.
Depending on the reserve, you can do a walking or mountain biking safari which offer great opportunities to feel close to the animals. In the nature reserves (where there isn’t big game), the hiking is fantastic… and there are plenty of kilometers to cover. In fact, if the navigators aren’t confident to a route, a 10km hike can easily (and quickly) turn into a 22km hike… that ends in the dark. Trust me… I know.
The giraffes are my favorite. They are beautiful, graceful animals that don’t seem to mind our presence. In fact, I think they are as curious as I am, particularly the young ones. They watch us, watching them, watching us… for long periods of time, posing for pictures. Of course some of them are just focused on eating, but I guess that is no surprise.
Since Nhlangano doesn’t have any restaurants open for dinner (yep, I’m serious… unless you count KFC), it’s also good to go get away and open a menu to order a meal. There is also a movie theater (yup, just one) about 90 minutes from Nhlangano which allowed me to see one of my high school classmates on the big screen in the movie Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
I’ve really enjoyed my weekend getaways… the Swazis are very nice and it’s an easy country to navigate… there are only a few major roads. The most challenging part is the unique issue of Swaziland traffic… the cows and goats seem to enjoy walking on and around the roads…