Day 2 & 3
Firstly thanx for all the kind words - a few more flood related photos
Damage on the Olifants Bridge
Kumana dam filled to the brim
Maroela starting to flood
Maroela Prime Camping spot
I woke up at around midnight with the sound of falling rain and had to quickly make sure there were no leaks in the caravan roof. Sleeping dry is one of my very few must haves in life. The alarm sounded at four in the morning – still the rain kept pouring down. We had to dig around in all the cupboards to find a raincoat – I knew we had two sets somewhere and a caravan is only so big. We managed to find one of the jackets and had to take turns to get to the ablution block.
The rain let up at around six am and we decided to take the tar road out to Tshokwane. Very quiet animal wise – even at Nsemani there was little too see – unless you do not mind watching guinea fowl and Egyptian geese with chicks – which we don’t. We had a brief pit-stop at Satara and then carried on towards Tshokwane. The Kumana dam where we saw a buffalo kill during our previous visit had a bit more water but still pretty muddy.
A few kilometres from Tshokwane there were a number of lions right next to the road. Mostly females from what we could see in the rain – I did manage to get a few photos of them. About three kilometres up the road we spotted two male lions about a hundred meters from the road. The Bigma lens could barely reach – must get that converter before my next trip.
At Tshokwane the rain really started to get serious, so we headed back to Satara. They had a braai going at the restaurant which smelled very promising. Let’s just say I was not impressed with the quality and/or taste of our traditional pap, wors & sheba. We went pass Girivana dam which is slowly but surely filling up. Back to Maroela in the pouring rain, a quick two hour nap and then back to sitting under the rally tent watching the now pouring rain.
I woke up at around three in the morning and thought that there must surely be something wrong with my hearing. I heard this rather loud swishing noise and thought that it must be the wind and the rain pounding against the plastic raincoats hood, but strangely I could not feel any wind blowing. I walked up to the ablution block pondering about life, old age and loss of hearing. Knowing the campsite very well I walked back in the dark towards the caravan against the fence. Nope, surely I did not lose my hearing overnight. So I fumbled around in the dark caravan to find the Maglite.
It’s not old age; it’s the Timbavati in flood like I have never seen it in all my life. I cannot find the words to describe the panic felt when you can see the rising water level a mere four meters away from the fence – in the dark. We sat there for two agonising hours waiting for daylight to appear. The rain kept on pouring down by the bucket load.
At around seven the area ranger (Richard) came to check to see if we were still ok. His first priority was to get the people out of Tambotie tented camp. He witnessed the floods in 2000 so he knew where to start with the evacuation. He told us that he would come back to tell us if we must move. I can picture what must have been a logistical nightmare. The cell phones were going crazy, cell reception coming and going with friends and family trying to contact us to find out if we were still alive.
Well, by the time Richard made it back to Maroela after about two hours, common sense had already kicked in and I have hitched the caravan and moved to higher ground next to the kitchen and ablution facilities. He told the other two people camping in their tent to get moving very quickly. We watched the water level creeping into that prime spot about ten minutes after we have moved the caravan. Ten minutes later we watched the water level creeping into the whole length of the fence facing the river. Every now and again there was a short break in the rain; enough time to walk down towards the fence (only about fifty odd meters) to try to get a few photos with the Coolpix. Trying to get back to some cover from the rain in the kitchen area – I got soaked again. Rolling waves at the height of two metres thundered past taking along with it everything in its path, including uprooted massive sized trees.
Richard decided to evacuate the camp at around two o’clock; only problem we had was that we could not use the normal road. The three vehicles (us, the tent campers and Richard) left via an emergency “road” around the back of Orpen alongside the old fence. No ways I could tow the caravan, so where the road split to Tambotie tent camp I had to unhitch the caravan and leave it there. Streams feeding the Timbavati from around the Orpen camp surrounded us at I distance of a few hundred metres on each side. When I wrote this we were safely checked into one of the chalets at Orpen, with our caravan sleeping in the bush for the night. My compliments to the great service provided by Dumisane Ntlemo, Tinyiko Mtsetwene and Richard Sowry – well done gentlemen!!
I can but hope and pray that we will be able to continue our stay at Maroela and that they got the guard at the gate (George) out safely as well. Funny what my wife and I thought the important things to be to get out of the caravan. Let’s just say our entire food supply for the trip was still in the caravan fridge maybe running on water power?
Whilst all this was going on – visitors at Orpen saw wild dogs making an impala kill and feeding right next to the tar road about ten kilometers from the gate. I hate them!!!!! Nah, just joking, maybe one day our luck will change.