Day 1 – Arrival
I believe in lists. Lots and lots of lists. The main reason for this is that I find it relaxes me if I don’t have to try and remember everything I must remember, in my brain.
Packing for a KNP-trip involves among others lists of equipment, lists of food (once the menu has been sorted), lists of stuff that must be done before we leave and lists of everything that must go into the car.
As I stood surveying the mound of luggage to be packed into the Terios I had a moment of doubt.
Three crates of food (no shop in Biyamiti), the braai tongs in their silver case (a gift that has come in handy many times), the 25 litre plastic container with water (we prefer not to drink tap water at home and it is quite easy to take it with), two suitcases with clothes, the equipment-crate (with binoculars, double plugs, lead, batteries, chargers, torches etc), my camera bag, the day-bag (which I use to put in stuff for the day drives) which is at this stage filled with various books, maps and our reservation papers (more about this later), a water bottle and a roll of toilet paper for in the car, a flat-bottom potjie (to be used for “potbrood”, a delicious bread baked on the coals), two bags of charcoal, the cool bag with all of the meat, dairy stuff etc, a plastic bag with cold drinks and another plastic bag with alcoholic refreshments. Oh, and the first aid kit.
How on earth am I going to fit all of this in? SO takes one look and tells me he’ll leave it to me to sort this little lot out... Oh dear.
I start with the biggest stuff first and work my way down to the smallest and everything fits. I proudly call SO over to show him my masterpiece of holiday packing.
We debate whether to take the two folding chairs we take every time (and then don’t use), and decide that there isn’t enough space for them as well.
After locking everything, saying goodbye to the two cats (who are not impressed with all the packing and goings on) we leave.
I’ll not say much about the drive there, except to say that we ate breakfast near Middelburg, where I also broke out the first aid kit, with us not even halfway there.
Shortly before we stop for breakfast, a truck kicks up a stone which chips the windscreen quite badly and left to its own devices the windscreen will start to crack in various directions.
After a brainwave light bulb moment, I get a plaster from the first aid kit, because the plaster supports the weakened glass and will stop the cracking. Now, all we have to do is explain to all the petrol attendants in KNP what the plaster is doing there when they want to wash the windscreen. The lady in the car next to us at the petrol stop, watch in fascination while I perform this piece of unusual first aid.
Just after 13:00 we arrive at the Malelane-gate where there is a long queue of vehicles parked. There is only one person on duty and a queue of people filling up the limited space inside and my heart sinks.
However, after a short wait it is my turn and with few formalities our entry permit is issued.
Our petrol tank is just under half and because there is no petrol station at Biyamiti we decide to head to Berg-en-Dal for lunch and some petrol.
I take in deep breaths of pure park-air. I am so glad to be back – it always feels like coming home.
The heat is lying over the park like a woolen blanket and not much is stirring game-wise.
The chairperson of this year’s welcoming committee says his/her piece and then flies off:Hornbill
, on Flickr
At Berg-en-Dal we get a toasted sandwich and a chicken salad which are quite tasty. The petrol attendant tells us it’s rained a lot here (really?
) and then we hit the road again, taking the S110 and then the S114/S25.
The park is green and lush and I can see that game viewing is going to be a challenge. There is a lot of water flowing over dips in the road and the rivers are in full spate.
We see a herd of impala next to the road and one young impala’s knee is swollen as big as a tennis ball, limping. Poor thing. SO muses that the park should have a reporting line where one can call and they can then send a vet to help the animal. I share the sympathies but feel that this would be impractical.
On one bridge we see two hamerkops staring meditatively at the flowing waters at their feet. There is also a green backed heron that poses beautifully for us but starts sidling away as soon as I point the camera at him. SO jokes that the bird is on the run from the mob, in the witness protection program, and that the little heron is afraid that a published photograph of him will let the bad guys know where he is hiding out.
We respect his appeal for anonymity, but the hamerkop has no such problem. Hamerkop
, on Flickr
Three elephants are browsing next to the road, but they keep hiding their heads in the vegetation and I can’t get a nice photo.
A bit further on this giraffe is munching away at leaves and keeping an eye on us at the same time.Giraffe
, on Flickr
I read that the Biyamiti river is mostly dry but it is definitely flowing now! Flowing Biyamiti river
, on Flickr
A warthog trots away from the road. We reach the turnoff to the camp (S139) and SO is a bit alarmed at the fact that the road consists of two tracks winding through very lush vegetation to say the least. The road is also a bit rough. It is nothing that the Terios can’t handle, but he throws me a look as if to ask: “Where did you bring me?”.
After a short shaking drive we get to the beautiful little camp. Booking in is simple (no keys, they only check off your name on a list) and we make our way to chalet number 4. Here it is:Our chalet
, on Flickr
To our disgust we see that the two comfy folding chairs would have come in quite handy – to sit and look out over the river.
Although the trees are hiding some of the view, it is beautiful to look out towards the river and the fence.The view from the porch
, on Flickr
After carrying all of the stuff from the vehicle and making ourselves at home I walk down to the river to see if I can spot any animals. Nothing much except for a saddle-billed stork, but the view is beautiful.Tree on the riverside
, on Flickr
Since we’ve been in the car almost the whole day now, we decide not to go for an afternoon drive but to relax and have some (alcoholic) refreshments on the porch while watching the day wind up. We go for a walk through camp to see our surroundings and a little scops owl makes a few noises at me from a tree, but before I can point him out to SO he flies off.
There are vervet monkeys in camp as well as squirrels.
After dark falls I fry some chicken in Nando’s spices I brought especially, and together with some savoury mushroom rice and green beans from a tin, it is a meal fit for a king. Maybe it is the fresh air or hunger, but it did taste good!
SO is tired and soon after dinner he falls asleep on his bed. I write in my journal and as I step out into the kitchen for something to drink I see a big brown spider scurrying under the table, probably hunting the myriad of insects, moths etc attracted by the lights.
I am deathly afraid of spiders and it takes all of my nerve to ignore him (this is his habitat after all and I am just visiting). I go back into the house making sure the screen is closed tightly behind me.
A while later I look up from my musings and see the exact same spider (or his identical twin) walking about on the floor, inside the house close to the screen door.
I freak out a little, but try to be brave. I don’t want him in the house with me and so open the screen door with one hand, and use my diary to scoot him outside, hyperventilating all the while.
As I get tired I make ready for bed (part of which preparations involve ripping the blanket and duvet off the bed so that only the sheets are left). It is really too hot. SO is asleep on top of his.
I throw them down next to the bed and after turning off all the other lights I read a bit. I glance up from my book a while later and to my utter shock and horror I see the exact same spider (or his other triplet twin) on top of the discarded duvet. Looking at me.
I leap out of bed, heart beating a mile a minute, and decide to try to herd him out again. If I had Doom with me I would have been sorely tempted at this time to use it, but because I didn’t, the question remains academic.
I try to scoot the big spider out towards the door, which will not stay open dammit, and to my utter consternation the spider Runs. Under. My. Bed.
I’ll admit to swearing, but I feel it was totally justified.
I try to peer under there, but I see nothing and feeling utterly hysterical by this time, I have visions of the spider leaping from under there and attacking me as I lie sleeping and vulnerable.
I swear again fearfully, but there is nothing to be done. I do however, take half a sleeping tablet in order to get to sleep because I keep twitching, feeling something move on my skin, straining to hear every sound (as if you could hear a spider walking – totally ridiculous I know
I fitfully fall asleep, fully expecting to not wake up again and be killed during the night.