It was a pleasure to explore some of Swaziland recently. Bordered on three sides by South Africa, with Mozambique to the East, the Kingdom is about three hours’ drive from Johannesburg. Despite the economic crisis and political problems that have spawned pro-democracy protests, as well as widespread poverty and HIV, we found the people welcoming and the countryside stunning, with seemingly endless mountains and forests.
Tagging along for the weekend with an Enduro World motor-biking tour, I relaxed at Maguga Lodge, overlooking the magnificent Maguga Dam that is situated on the Komati river. Completed in 2001, the dam was recognized that year with the South African Institution of Civil Engineering award for the most outstanding civil engineering achievement in the international category. It’s easy to see why.
While the die-hard riders toiled in the mountains – reportedly loving every minute – the rest of us soaked up the tranquil scenery,
enjoyed a sunset cruise,
and visited the nearby arts and crafts centre at Piggs Peak.
This area is perhaps best know for the Piggs Peak Hotel and Casino, but gambling wasn’t on our menu. Instead, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour at Coral Stephens Handweaving, and introduced to the beautiful work produced by their staff, most of whom have been employed in this remarkably creative environment for many years.
Returning home with special souvenirs of Swazi craft, the country’s warmth remains close. Our thoughts are with the people, in the hope that their troubles are resolved for the best.