Brave the Storm, or Surrender?

The hiss of the kettle coming to the boil on its nest of coals at precisely three o’clock was a welcome call to gather for tea and biscuits. Some had taken advantage of siesta time and slept, some relaxed on chairs on the lookout, some got to know each other better

“We are going to go the confluence,” Aron announced.

Happy sounds of assent greeted his pronouncement.

“I believe it really is an amazing sight,” Rozz said. “It would be such a shame to be here and not to see it.”

Tea drunk, anoraks and backpacks retrieved we headed for the game vehicle. There was some last minute activity in the small kitchen, as everyone organised drinks and snacks for the walk, and for the drive back camp.

Threatening clouds
Threatening clouds

We set off on what was now becoming a familiar track, heading east. As we gathered near the young Baobab, Aron looked anxiously heavenward. Clouds threatened, the light was not good.

“We will walk straight to the confluence this time, along the riverbed, and come back the same way.”

There was a delicious sense of excitement as we made our way down a steep path, and arrived on the riverbed. As we clambered onto a large outcrop rocks, a hippo rose up through a great swirl of water, took one indignant look at us, and fled, leaving a huge, white-crested wake. He stopped a short way ahead, and stood quivering in what could have been fury, or fear.

Last minute instructions from Aron, overlooking the Oliphant's river. The confluence is around the corner at the bask of the mountain on the right.
Last minute instructions from Aron, overlooking the Oliphant’s river. The confluence is around the corner at the bask of the mountain on the right.

Aron and Absolom were in a hurry, but still made sure that each of us managed to climb the steep steps of the rocks, and that we put our feet on safe footholds. The hippo was shaking his head and snorting, looking around for fellows to join him in his condemnation of this intrusion into his domain, when there was a familiar rumble, a flash and the rain began to fall.

“The rain is coming, and it is not going to stop,” Aron was concerned. “Are you happy to continue?”

His anxiety made me uneasy, but we really wanted to see the confluence. We decided to continue. Soon the rocks were black and glistening, the light worsened. I felt my foot slip. I am an asthmatic, and did not know how my lungs would hold out if we had to make a dash for it. The hippo gave another flick of his enormous head.

“I’m sorry, but I am really not keen to carry on,” I said.

Aron stopped immediately. “The rocks are going to get more slippery. And we will have to come back up there,” he pointed to a barely discernible path on the lower slope of the bank.

There was a moment’s silence as everyone thought over the odds.

“I am also not happy with a weapon in the wet, which may not fire.”

With that, and another look at the agitated hippo, and we all agreed that turning back was the better option.

“We’ll go for a drive instead,” Aron reassured.

“Will we try again?” someone asked.

Both guides shook their heads.

“It’s obvious we are not meant to go the confluence. Let us listen to the bush.”

Our Faithful chariot!
Our Faithful chariot!

Once back in the vehicle, snacks and drinks appeared as we settled down to enjoy a drive in a part of Kruger Park where we were the only people.

We came across a bull elephant, and watched enthralled as he manoeuvred a tree trunk out of the ground, and then debarked it, delicate moves from one so large. We saw a pearl spotted owlet, close, only a couple of metres away, nestled in the fork of a tree.

“Look at that giraffe, he thinks he is sheltering from the rain,” we all laughed at the animal whose head towered above the shrub he was sheltering behind.

Night came fast, and it was dark when we arrived back at the camp, delighted to see the cheery glow of the log fire, and with the aroma emanating from the kitchen where Shadrack was working his magic.

It was a good day in the bush. Not the one we had planned, but a good day nonetheless, it was the day the bush ordained.

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