The Nitty Gritty Nomads departed Nelspruit for the promise of friendly Swaziland smiles, and found them.
We entered Swaziland in the late morning at Jeppes Reef Border Post. The officials were friendly and enquisitive about the 4 heavily loaded bikes crossing over into their country. We satisfied their curiosity by handing out business cards and telling them a little more about our journey through Africa and that this was the first country of 13 we are to visit outside of South Africa.
We traveled through Piggs Peak, through the mountains and saw a little sign just before Maguga Dam directing us onto a small dirt road with Bushman Paintings 7 km away. The mountainous landscape is dotted with huts and swathed in greenery. We arrived at a reception hut and were imidiatly welcomed, children directed us towards the path going down the mountain to the Bushman shelter. Our first taste of archaeology for the trip, I was excited to see what the guides knew about the site and what happened there.
It was a 25 minute walk down the mountain to a wonderful little shelter, rich in rock art and stone tools.
The guide (Gerti) was very knowledgeable about the paintings, explaining the religious significance the site had to the Bushmen Shamans and how they connected to the spirit world to entice rain to fall on the land. However, she had little to no knowledge of anything scattered on the floor of the cave. The floor was littered with stone tools spanning from the Middle Stone Age (MSA, +/- 40 000 years ago) to the Later Stone Age (LSA, +/- 10000-1000 years ago). I studied bushmen sites similar to this one in my studies so could confidently explain to our guide more about the stone tools and their uses.
I identified about 5 different types of stone tools and their uses to Gerti, explaining that the smaller more delicately worked tools were more recent and required the most skill to make. Our guide was very appreciative for the new information and memorized the look of the tools as well as their functions and names.
We traveled on wards to Mbabane the capital of Swaziland which is 10km from the oldest mine in the world, Lion Cavern! More archaeology!
The below canyon was done when the mine was dug commercially.
The cave above is the actual archaeological site where the oldest evidence of mining was found.
The cave is located on top of a mountain with a breathtaking view of Swaziland.
We will be releasing a Swaziland Part 2 with some epic places to visit and go fishing in Swaziland, with our journey to Jozini dam and onwards to Richards Bay.
By Trent Seiler &
The Nitty Gritty Nomads