3 Countries In 3 Days BMW GS Adventure
Holiday, marriage, Travel

3 Countries in 3 Days: Day 1

My husband and I went away last week with our friends, on what can only be described as a fast paced epic adventure. The plan was to visit 3 countries in 3 days, and we did it. This is our account of the planning and first day of our trip.

Biker’s Rules

My husband and his friend are avid ‘bikers’. Think more ‘respectful adventurers’ rather than ‘leathers and goatees’!

They both ride BMW GS 1200 Adventure bikes and have invested in all the safety kit. Their personal set of rules and ‘code of conduct’ includes:

  1. Don’t ride at night, in the dark;
  2. NEVER drink alcohol and ride;
  3. Don’t ride over holiday weekends when there is a lot of traffic on the roads.

FOMO is real!

Unfortunately due to my lack of babysitters I have never been able to go with my husband. Last year we went on a family tour to Zimbabwe via Botswana; the men rode on their bikes and the women and kids went in the car (Fortuner) towing the trailer. It was great fun, but we have been waiting for the opportunity to go away with our husbands. On the bikes. No kids!

The opportunity finally came up when my parents decided to come visit (from Zimbabwe) and when I tentatively broached the subject they assured me they were coming to see the kids, not us and so my husband and I were free to disappear if we wanted to! Win, Win!

Couple Goals

My husband was so excited that he went out and bought me the full safety biking kit – jacket, trousers and boots. He already had a spare helmet and gloves for me, I was so spoilt by all that. Who knows when I will get to use it again but I was/am very grateful.

The day finally arrived and we left home at 06.00am, just as it was getting light (refer back to rule no.1)! I waved goodbye to my mom and kids and swallowed the lump in my throat, but didn’t look back as we roared off! My husband and I needed this adventure, this time alone together. It’s our first holiday away without our kids since before the eldest was born so around 6 years now.

Let’s Go Adventuring

We rode to the next town to meet with our friends before setting off. I was very nervous and tense. By the time we got to their house I knew I was going to have to mentally force my body to relax or I was going to hurt myself. For those of you who don’t know, I had both hips replaced in 2015 so riding on a motorbike for 3 days less than 2 years later is a BIG deal for me and my family.

After we set off from their house, we only rode about 20 minutes down the road and the guys pulled over! Whenever they go riding they stop at the most picturesque places and take photos to send me. I get so jealous and have kicked off on more than one occasion – you can read about my previous bratty ranting here. So they had planned to stop at one of their usual places and make coffee on the side of the road just for me. It was so sweet!

We had coffee and rusks on the side of the road under the trees and I loved it!

Goals & Route

From there we continued on with our journey. The aim was to get to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Swaziland by nightfall.

This is the route we took:

Kroonstad, Heilbron, Villiers, Standerton, Ermelo, Warburton, Oshoek (Border), Ngwenya, Mbabane, Lobamba, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

Total distance: 573.67km

Between Villiers and Standerton we had to go on a dirt road for about 60 km. The road was very sandy and was obviously being used as a cut through by a haulage company so there were a lot of big trucks on the road. We had to take it slow and at one point decided to stop and have a rest.

At this point we were criss-crossing between the Free State and Mpumalanga borders.

Crossing Borders

Once we got into Mpumalanga closer to Ermelo and from then on to the Swaziland border the landscaped changed quite dramatically from the typical Free State scenery of huge open farm lands to that of a forestry commission, rolling green hills defined by the different stages of forests.

I was pleasantly surprised by the border at Oshoek/Ngwenya. With my previous african border experiences including the infamous Beitbridge to say I was a bit sceptic was an understatement. I don’t think it even took 20 minutes both sides and most of that was down to getting off the bike, taking off the gloves and helmet, then 2 minutes later putting it all back on, getting back on the bike, riding 100 meters over the border and doing it all again.

Swaziland

Swaziland itself reminded me very much of Zimbabwe. There are enterprising shops and stalls every few hundred meters, but obviously the quality of the roads was far better and there were NO unnecessary roadblocks of police harassing travellers for no reason.

All this while we had been following our trust GPS directions, guiding us on the best route. And then …. it decided to take us through what can only be described as a high density rural settlement, on the side of a mountain. There was a ‘road’, but that road had a deep trench zig-zagging along it no doubt caused by excessive rain at some point, and it was so narrow there would only be room for 1 car at a time, and who knows how that would have panned out if we’d actually come across one, thank goodness we didn’t. We were all very bewildered at the apparent road to the wildlife sanctuary, it did not seem to fit at all. As the ones with the GPS my husband and I were in front, and our friends were behind – no doubt equally bewildered! lol

This portion of the trip included a few curse words from me, a steel like grip, an unexpected stream crossing and being chased by extremely angry dogs! All part of the adventure, and no doubt a story to relate to the grandkids one day!

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

We finally arrived at Mlilwane, and were very excited to check into our accommodation. Not only because we had very numb bums, but because this is where we slept – Beehive Village huts!

The Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is a definite ‘must do’ if you are ever in that area. What impressed me so much was the fact that the animals were so well cared for and unafraid of cars and people. Whilst many conservationist will say this is a bad thing, at no point did I see mistreatment of the animals. For all the animals to be unafraid of humans when in a captive environment, to which most of the animals were born into, only tells me that the animals are cared for. We saw Zebra, Impala, Warthog, Nyala, and others.

There was a sign on the way out which I didn’t get to take a picture of but it was a quote by Mahatma Ghandi:

The Greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Swaziland is a great nation.

Getting back to our day, we all had a quick shower in the en-suit bathrooms, changed and then headed to the dining area for a dinner. On the way there we saw a herd of Impala walking through the camp and settling on the central open ground in the middle of the camp for the evening, where they sleep all night, undisturbed.

The guys indulged in a local beer first, a Sibebe. Trying something local is a tradition we always uphold – try the local brew first. Needless to say that after the day we’d had I gulped down my first glass of wine. Dinner was good. The food was amazing! Lots of laughs and drinks with good friends.

We retired quite early knowing that the following day would be a long hard push: Swaziland, back to South Africa, then in to Lesotho, all in one day.

Update: Click here to read about Day 2, and here for Day 3.


This post is linked up to the following linkys: 

One Messy Mama
My Petit Canard
3 Little Buttons
My Random Musings

 

27 thoughts on “3 Countries in 3 Days: Day 1”

  1. I look forward to seeing more from this adventure – it sounds like a lot of fun, and good quality time together as a couple not just as parents.

    Also, I like your parents honesty with coming to see the kids. Haha! When you have children, the grandparents forget there own children. Hehe! #MarvMondays

    1. Trust the parents to keep you grounded and put you in your place hey! Lol
      Day 2 will be out tomorrow x

  2. This sounds like a really good getaway. It’s fantastic that the animals are so well cared for.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Debbie

  3. I seriously miss home so much when I read this! I was just saying to my husband – “Oh to just sit in a bush lodge surrounded by animals and a glass of wine”… There’s that African feeling right there!! Can’t wait to read part 2. P.S. Loved seeing all the photo’s on Instagram! #globalblogging

    1. Thanks. I honestly am the handbrake to us leaving. I have lived abroad and can’t imagine leaving now. It was a great holiday. Check out Day 3 – lots of pictures.

  4. Wow, what an amazing trip to be able to take! I love that you and your husband are now getting to go and enjoy these adventures together. I really hope that in a few years time when ours are a little older we do too. Love the look of the beehive accomodation, what a great experience 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing this with us on #MarvMondays. Emily

  5. Wow this sounds so exciting. I would have gotten a lump in my throat too but a getaway with hubby is needed. An adventure like this keeps your mind occupied. Wow Carly, this is a cool post.

  6. Oh my word, I would have never taken you for a bikers wife. My dad is a biker and I am very familiar with “the life”… although your husband seems much more responsible. I love this post! What an adventurer!

  7. What an epic adventure to experience 3 countries on a bike. Love Swaziland, I’ve been there twice and you so right the people there are amazing. The border patrol is not like it use to be – seems as if they are slack. #Lekkerlinky

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