On Sunday morning, I was woken up by a dove as my alarm clock – now that’s the right way to wake up! I needed to spend the morning at camp catching up on editing images and blogging after a long day in the bush on Saturday.
I managed to leave by 11.30 and headed on the H7 tar road to Orpen Gate to explore that area and see who I could talk to.
Nsemani dam is so full. I’ve never seen it like this before.
The Phelwana River still had quite a bit of water flowing in it, which was good to see. I think this riverbed is normally dry.
I could see in parts that the Timbavati River had actually come over the road.. There was debris on the opposite side of the road to the river and sand dumped along the road as well. There is still a lot of debris in the riverbed and lots of trees flattened. Hard to believe again that this usually small river was a raging torrent for a few hours.
I got to see wild dogs 10 kms before Orpen! I love wild dogs and it is always so special to see them on a bush trip. They were lying low in the grass but thankfully there was a vehicle stopped waiting for them to get up. So I pulled my car over to the side and sat and waited. From time to time they lifted their heads – I thought there were just two initially. Everyone else drove off and shortly afterwards, the two dogs got up and walked onto the road in front of me! So lovely.. I got some nice photos before they went back into the long grass and under another bush where they were greeted by squeals.. Another two dogs were under the bush!
At Orpen camp I had a quick lunch and then found a guide to chat to about the floods. He said the Timbavati river is now back to it’s normal size.
He told me a story of a French couple during the floods. They were driving along the H7 towards Orpen just by the well-known avenue of trees. Suddenly they noticed water flowing over their bonnet. Reacting quickly, they grabbed their baby and waded through waist-deep water to get out. Thankfully, another tourist on the other side gave him a lift back to Orpen. The car filled with water and so was not washed away. Once the water subsided they found it covered in reeds. It was a rental car and a complete write off. The couple lost all their electronic goods and luggage. So good though that they got out safely!
I also chatted to the camp manager, who luckily was in on a Sunday. He was not on duty over the flooding, but he filled me in on the latest news on the surrounding camps.
- Orpen was not damaged at all
- Maroela is fine as there was no structural damage
- At Tamboti at least twenty huts were badly damaged or washed away and part of the electric fence washed away. All luxury tents are fine as they are higher than the normal tents. In his opinion, it will take at least four to six months to repair and rebuild
- Talamati was closed – although that weekend it was being used by honorary rangers who were attending a birding function at Satara. It is now open temporarily which is great news. I don’t think the damage here is extensive, just some cleaning up and minor repairs needed. I just spoke to the reception at Talamati and the chalets are all 100%. The only damage was to the water supply (now sorted) and the fence (which will be fixed completely by next week)
- He also told me that Biyamiti only opened last Friday
On the way back to Satara, I decided to take the Timbavati river road (S39) up to the picnic site again as I hadn’t managed to explore this road as yet. It’s a long stretch but really beautiful, with most of it being along the river. At Leeubron waterhole, I found a big herd of impala and zebra grazing and it was just such a peaceful spot.
At the picnic site, I turned back down the dirt road towards Satara (S40). This road is in really good condition, without the corregations that most of the dirt roads have. There are no rivers nearby but it is still green and has animals enjoying the grass.
I popped down the S12 and stopped at Girivana waterhole. It has filled up a lot since three weeks ago, which is lovely to see. This is a special place for my family as my grandfather’s ashes were scattered here in 1997. Him and my gran loved this waterhole and would often sit next to it for hours in the autovilla, especially during the petrol shortage in the Park in the 80’s when they couldn’t drive long distances from the camp. They had some very good sightings here over the years.
I headed back to the S40 and then back to the camp for my last night at Satara. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and can see why it is a favourite amongst campers. I will definitely be back!