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ESWATINI TO MOZAMBIQUE

I am purely writing this post for reference to anyone who searches the internet for “bus Manzini to Maputo.” I couldn’t find anything and just had to take the plunge and hope there was something early in the morning for my afternoon flight from Maputo.

WHERE IS ESWATINI?

ONE BUS, SHOULD BE EASY?

Having to contend a job, cape town and the rest of the trip with the family I had little time to play with so I was arriving into Maputo just to make the flight over to Angola before meeting them all in Joburg. Sounds complicated? You don’t want to know the half of it!

Swimming pool in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

EARLY START

I had spoke to my hotel and they mentioned buses leave from 6:30am which was early for me but better early that late. There was however one catch and I knew exactly what it was going to be, the bus only leaves when it’s full. If this was the case at home it would be days before some buses leave and I’m guessing a Wednesday morning trip to Mozambique wasn’t at the top of everyone’s list so I prayed it was a popular route.

THE BUS STATION

Arriving at the bus station or rather a car park, market and land fIll site you are met with hundreds of small minivans common throughout this part of Africa. There is little to no organization or rather that’s what it appears to the likes of me but this part of Africa hasn’t been made with tourists in mind. After asking a few drivers I was pointed to the top corner of the station where I found a red Mercedes Sprinter and trailer, a much better/safer option than the other kobis on offer – a promising start

Bus station in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

THE START

I arrived just after 7 where there was only a handful of people waiting so there was likely to be a little wait to fill the 22 seats. My flight isn’t until the evening so there was plenty of time but I for sure wasn’t getting my hopes up.

“SOON SOON”

It has now been 3 hours and I have no idea what’s going on. It seems a lot of people have arrived at different times and left their passport. I have no idea how many people around are waiting for this bus or a another.

I have asked the driver or whoever looks to be in control and I could’ve guessed the answer he was going to give me, “soon, soon.” Patience isn’t my strong point so I’ll have to soldier on and pray and hope.

Red minivan in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

7 HOURS LATER

Just as things were looking promising, there was  a dramatic turn of events. A group that had signed up have now taken their bags out of the trailer and walked off, so we are an additional 5 short on top of the 5 we were waiting on. I’m tempted to buy the rest of the seats!

After 7 hours we are finally off. That’s 7 HOURS! SEVEN FU*KING HOURS – the journey should only take half of that!! I’ve tried to take this as a lesson for Africa and will no doubt be expecting it for the remaining 45 countries I need to visit on this continent.

Passenger cargo in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

THE BORDERS

Well it was going to be tight to make it and the border created more problems. Getting out of Eswatini was easy enough by African standards but getting into Mozam was an absolute nightmare!

The customs officer would wait in his room doing very little why we frantically pleaded to get him to sign our paperwork so we could travel on. Eventually I was invited in and I could not believe what he done. I was going through my bag to get my passport and had found a small local denomination. For the first time he perked up and immediately took it from my hands and said, “is this a gift, thank you.”

Local vendor in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

CORRUPTION

Now, normally I would be straight up and take it back but just remember I’m in a rush and I haven’t yet had my papers signed so I let him keep the money, it was only a small amount! The girl who was due in after me was refused entry for some reason and was now in sticky situation between two borders without any transport in sight. This is not the position you want to be in as it means going back to the original border and hoping the visa process is an easy one.

We finally made it to the bus station noticing the vendors almost climbing through the window to get at me I decided to befriend another passenger. He was keen to take me to the airport but my flight was due to depart in 20minutes, I was counting my losses already!

Customs office in Manzini, Eswatini. The £4 bus that cost me £700

The bus station was insane, I had 15 people hanging off me to sell e stuff, not a great experience if the local hadn’t have offered to help me. But we jumped into a rickshaw and bolted to the airport.

I missed the check in by 15 minutes, if only I bribed the official a little earlier I might have made it!

FINAL THOUGHTS

This experience will be part and partial of my trip around most of Africa so I may well get comfortable with it.
The first part of my trip is finished, read my South Africa reflection post here and then.

NEXT UP

Day 1 in Botswana and the scare of my life! Click to read

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
121/229

This post is part of the Southern Africa Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.

Question Time

  • Have you visited this part of Africa?
  • Did you enjoy it?
  • Did you experience any corruption?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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THE GREATEST HIKE ON EARTH?
SOUTH AFRICA REFLECTION

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