Every year we take all our staff to a secret location to celebrate the end of a year. This year it was destination Swaziland. Once an important destination for South Africans to escape to shackles and conservatism that apartheid burdened us all with. Sadly this stunning and friendly country has somewhat fallen off the list of popular destinations list in the years since achieving our democracy.
On a personal level Swaziland was the root of many African travels, July 22 1989 Chris and I took 6 hours to cross the very busy Oshoek border post to get to the Princes Trust Eric Clapton concert. To put the time line into context it was the time of change for South Africa, when the ruling party had entered into talks with the ANC. The following February, Nelson Mandela was released from jail which triggered the beginning of our long awaited democracy. It was poignant then that the night before we set off for our end of year celebration our beloved Madiba passed away..
After an easy 4 and a half hour’s drive we had crossed the border and were settled in our chalets within the Mililwane game reserve. They are clean, comfortable and fully equipped for self-catering, tame game such as warthog and antelope roam around the chalets and main lodge area.
Our first night celebration at The Calabash was another revisit of our first Swaziland adventure in 1989. The restaurant has been around since the late 70’s and is still owned by the same people and still turning out delectable European style meals. The food was delicious, our waiter attentive and entertaining but the thing that stand out for us was the complimentary Jungle Juice aperitif at the end of the meal!!! Our waiter innocently asked if anyone fancied a little something to settle the stomach. As we had all had our fill there was only on taker. After the shot was slugged down our waiter ceremoniously brought a covered bottle to the table. With the flourish of a magician he lifted the covering cloth to reveal a bottle filled with snakes, lizards and other crawlies in a clear alcohol of Chinese origin! Not for the faint hearted! But I guess a way to ensure no one would ever forget The Calabash restaurant. So be warned if you ever go there give the Jungle Juice a miss if you are squeamish like me.
The activity planned for day 2 had been top secret. We set off into the mountains and eventually arrived at Molotja Canopy Tours. Our excited “Maplingo’s” carefully listed to the safety talk and then got strapped into the harness gear required for this adventure activity. The morning was crisp and very misty which disguised the height of valley and helped settle the slightly nervous ones. Once we had conquered the first two short runs we were away. Nerves forgotten. Squealing with delight each time we launched ourselves in the air.
This activity has been done by us before in the Magaliesburg and it truly is an awe inspiring adventure combined with mild adrenalin, well mild for us ;-)
The canopy tour was followed by our traditional Christmas Party back at camp consisting of each person personally made favorite dish or drink. As we are a mixture of many cultures and races, this always proves to be a great event. From “melktertjies” to chick pea curry, the dinner was deemed to be a success. Secret Santa then made a welcomed appearance resulting in creative and fantastic gift all around.
Who knows what 2014 will bring? Be rest assured, the Maplanga Africa Christmas Party will once again be an event to remember for all on board.