Pretoria, Swaziland round trip – 3 days (adventure bikes)

1. Total distance of route and date of ride?

990 km, October 2014

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2. How long did it take to complete? Were you going fast or travelling leisurely?

Three days. Leisurely.

3. Why do you recommend this route?

The route runs through Swaziland, which is so close to home, but not well known to South Africans.

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4. Please tell us how the route runs.

We left Pretoria after work and spent the night in Ermelo, so the route really only starts in Ermelo. On Saturday morning we entered Swaziland at the Nerston border post close to the town of Amsterdam in Mpumalanga. From the border post we left the tar almost immediately and followed a narrow gravel road running right next border. We rode along this road, which included a few turns that led to an anti-clockwise route around Manzini, past the Mnjoli Dam and Piggs Peak to Bulembu on the South African border with Barberton. We stayed over at Bulembu and entered South Africa trough the Bulembu border post and headed back to Pretoria via Kaapsehoop and the N4.

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5. What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?

Adventure bikes

6. Please name points of interest along the way.

The towns along the route are all very interesting. These include Manzini, Bulembu, Kaapsehoop and Barberton.

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7. Any petrol stations or motorcycle repair shops along the way?

Petrol is widely available in Swaziland. Repair shops are probably only available in Barberton and maybe Manzini. Swaziland is a small country, therefore the distance to a city is relatively small.

8. Are there any dangers along the route?

There are stray animals as in any rural area. The rest were typical gravel-road hazards. Most of the roads we travelled on were gravel roads.

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9. What did the trip cost in fuel, meals and accommodation?

  • R900 in fuel
  • R700 for accommodation in Bulembu, for two people
  • R600 on food for two people
  • R50 for road tolls to enter Swaziland; payable at the border post.

10. Did you use any special gear?

We only used a tyre-repair kit, because of two flat tyres along the route.

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11. Any must-do activities on the route?

The museum at Bulembu is an interesting attraction. Bulembu is an old mining town that has been restored and strives to be self-sustainable by 2020.

12. Did anything funny happen that you’d like to share?

We discovered Bulembu by accident and we didn’t even know the place exists, but we were pleasantly surprised when we drove into the town to find this jewel in the mountains.

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13. Do you have any other comments or advice about the route?

The route is easily adaptable as there are many scenic roads in Swaziland. The route can easily be reversed, or adapted for touring bikes that prefer tar roads.

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14. Are there any doctors or hospitals in the area that you know of?

Manzini and Mbabane have hospitals, and Nelspruit is at no point more than 200 km away (as the crow flies).

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Route, words and photos by Christo Lombard

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