30 November 2009
We headed off to the Timbavati Reserve a few days ago in search of a new white lion cub that had been seen on the property next to ours. The cub is only about 2 months old and has’nt been seen before – it was in the company of it’s mother and three other tawny siblings.
We had no luck looking for the cub, but did have a fantstic amount of buffalo and elephant on the property- as can be seen from the photo on the home page. They were there every night when we got back from drive and guests had to be ferried back and forth between the tents and dining room in the land cruiser !
Being the start rainy season, the clouds have been building up every afternoon and we have been looking forward to a bit more welcome rain. Our drive on Monday afternoon was uncharacteristically quiet – we saw a herd of buffalo, a lone jumbo bull and not much else. Animals sense imminent changes in weather…
The wind steadily increased during the late afternoon, and storm clouds gathered. At about midnight, the heavens opened with a vengance; the hail came down and the wind blew. Chairs were knocked over in the dining room, the rain fell in sheets and the river rose. By 5.30am the next morning the river bed in front of the camp had swelled to a raging torrent, and was well over two metres deep. The river was now literally at the dining room. Over 150mm of rain fell in about 6 hours – this is over 20% of our summer rainfall in 6 hours!
Taking the cruiser, Enoch and I headed out to scout the river crossing. Our normal access route was completely impassable – the rivers were far too high, and it was clear that an alternative route had to be found.
The Timbavati river crossing was an alternative route, adding a detour of about 30 kilometres. Unfortunately by the time we had collected our guests and returned, that river has risen by another metre. As we had no alternative but to leave that morning, we packed our bags, loaded our gear and headed for the Mbloyi River.
The next door lodge also had the same problem, and they were stranded on two of their boundaries by high rivers. We waited, and as the Mbloyi river subsided, we decided to risk the crossing. With the assistance of our staff and the staff from our neighbouring lodge, a strap was placed on the back of the Landrover and on the front of our 4X4 – with pulling from the front and pushing from the back we made it through !
The water was over the bonnet but one more crossing and we would be home fee. The second crossing was a bit more difficult than the first but we made it through too – 17 km further on we were home free and back on the tar. A trip that can be done in a normal sedan took six hours to complete in a 4X4; but we were out. Rus and Brenda had enough time to get to thir next destination and we headed back to HQ to dry out.
The river has subsequently subsided; the roads are a drier, and the white lion cub remains elusive (for now…..)Ranger Dave