Hennie explains the rules of the game, how to behave, what to do when… We first will go on a short night drive and then: off to the bush to have a romantic braai is the plan. Both of us already look forward to Pap…
What do we see on our night drive? Little, very little. A Giant Eagle Owl far away in a tree, some giraffes and some hippos, but nothing near enough for photographs. Instead we talk a lot with Hennie.
There are still too many elephants in Kruger, opening the border to Mozambique apparently does not solve the problem. Trying to resettle still brings the Ellies back to their old turf. The keep coming back. Selling isn’t the answer either. No one wants to buy Ellies. The “pill” malfunctioned (obviously the elephant-ladies do not remember to take them…). So we come to the options for managing elephants, (translocation, contraception, culling and others).
We also ask Hennie about the waterhole management, since we found lots of them dry, windmills not operating. He explained that this is intended. The north of the park was always substantially drier than the south. Therefore in the north predominantly large antelopes, which are not dependent on a daily water intake, were resident. With operating artificial waterholes the north changed, daily drinkers like Impala, Zebra, and Gnu were followed by predators. And to them the old inhabitants were easy prey. So, by closing down artificial water sources the ecological is restored.
While we talk, the time passes. Lightning on the horizon becomes more and more frequent, is beautiful to look at. In the meantime we drive toward Boulders, past the airstrip (used only for animal counting and official KNP purposes) and somehow the dark clouds and lightning come nearer and nearer. We three promise ourselves “Oh, the weather will hold. And if it rains, only after the meal!” …
Then suddenly Hennie says “it rains”, corrects himself “no, only leaves from the trees”. The wind has come become stronger by now. Hennie turns from the track and we reach the Braai place. A fire is burning; some lanterns give it a very romantic spell. A Ranger with rifle patrols and protects all of us against all wild animals.
Several Potjes are stored in the middle of the fire. At the edge stands a table with beverages and a nice buffet with however still closed dishes (the wind becomes stronger) and a braai, with a white-dressed chef behind.
A waiter leads us to our table, which is beautifully laid, among other things with flowers, napkins, several glasses. Then the first storm lantern is blown out by the wind!
We are asked for a drink to start with and we select from his suggestions. Trying to ignite the lantern again does fail, so we sit in the light of SO’s headlight. Less romantically however more reliably.
We are told that because of the wind, which became still stronger, they have to put off the fire. The waiter asks us to hurry up with selecting our starters “could be it begins to rain”. And the first drops already fall. On the 5 meters from our table to the buffet it rains cats and dogs, it is pouring buckets of water. We just have the short chance to have a glimpse of the beetroot salad when the Bush Braai is suddenly over.
We climb into the truck, Hennie has to go back and help the others. Meanwhile we sit in the car and wait in the pouring rain. When he comes back, he hands out blankets to hide under. But we already completely wet. At least from the right. The windshield wipers race, however only outside, although they would be just as necessary from the inside. How Hennie can see anything on the way back remains a mystery to us. When we turn left on the main road, Hennie is relieved. Now wind and rain are coming from the rear. What Hennie has suffered before we experience, when we turn left again to Mopani Camp. Suddenly SO’s eyeglasses fly away.
But luck. In the same moment Hennie asks SO whether he has lost his eyeglasses would and hands them back to him.
And as we arrive at the gate, wind and rain stop abruptly. It is nearly dry at Mopani. We just can’t believe this. Hennie delivers us to our bungalow. We must change completely, from head to toe, from jeans to …. We take the car up to the restaurant. We are the leftovers from the bush and would like to have our braai at the restaurant. Well, one of the staff from the bush braai appears; still dripping wet and explains that the bush braai is also completely wet. We please should choose á la carte. Everything is on the house. We both order Bobotie and determine immediately the differences to Punda Maria. After (nearly) a bottle wine for me and a coffee for SO, we go to bed. Whether it still rained and stormed at the night? Do not know. We slept well.