Thursday, 2 February 2012

1st February – Getting Back to Normal

Photo of the Day
Kuhanya, clearly not as happy to see us as we were to see her!
Daily Synopsis
So it has been a two weeks since floods hit us, and it has been a really busy week here at Motswari trying to get things back to normal.
We have been very lucky that things have gone well, and the weather has played its part too!  The threat of rain has not been realised as neither of the follow up cyclones that developed over the Indian Ocean in the Mozambique Channel hit the land and affected us.  In fact we have had some warm to hot weather for most of the time that has slowly started drying out the bush, but the rivers are still flowing, albeit at a far gentler pace.
The Sohebele River is still trickling over Argyle Dam and into our camp dam; Argyle Dam itself is looking beautiful, and while a bit of the dam wall was lost, the structure stood and now houses a large family of hippos.
Argyle Dam - click for larger image
Sohebele Dam was not so lucky and the dam wall was almost totally destroyed, completely changing the face of the area! 

Sohebele Dam - well, what is left of it!
While we have not been able to access Scholtz in the east, we are informed that both Scholtz Big Dam and Repair Dam survived.
On the Nhlaralumi, it is flowing well still all the way through the reserve; usually after about a week of no rain, the river is down to no more than a few puddles, but this time, it is still flowing quite nicely. 

Nhlaralumi River at Confluence Crossing!

Sohebele River from Lover's Leap

Machaton River - this was totally covereed in rocks before the flood!
Vyeboom Dam is gone as we saw in the last blog, Peru Dam is only slightly damaged, but Concrete Crossing that stood between these dams is totally washed away!
Mbali Dam’s change to the landscape was quite profound, and Grant and I were almost speechless after looking at this dam.

Mvubu Crossin and Mbali Dam - no vegetation left below the dam!

Mbali Dam - click for larger view
The story behind our speechlessness was not entirely from the changes that have occurred as a result of this rather lush-reeded area being left as a massive sand bank, but rather due to our stupidity.
We both thought it would be great to go and see the dam from the other side.  And it was a good idea, if we had shoes on.  We didn’t.  It was midday.  The sand was hot.  Very hot.  So hot that we both burnt the soles out of our feet!  Oh what I would have done to have been a spectator watching the two of us running across the long stretches of open sand as we tried to make our way back to the Land Rover!  At one point, with the coolness of the river only 10m away, I just could not endure the pain of running on the sand anymore and had to stop there, almost in tears from the pain, legs shaking, knowing I only had to take 5 more steps to get some respite...but the sand was so hot, that for a short while, I just couldn’t move.  We eventually made it back to the vehicle, but needless to say both of us walked quite gingerly for the rest of the afternoon.

Grant and i trekking across the large expanses of boiling!  (click for larger image)
The majority of the little drainage lines are drying quickly, but the seeplines are still pouring with water nourishing the grass and trees that are now growing quite thickly all over the reserve, and I am sure the animals are enjoying it – I almost thought there were a few pregnant impalas still until I realised they were all just really fat!
I wish I could be more sure of this, but not going out on drive, it’s difficult to know what is going on!  Godfrey saw the wild dogs again a couple of days ago, as well as a herd of buffalo as he went to Java.  We heard lions roaring near camp last night, but have yet to have sightings of any; some friends that left the lodge on Monday night saw a lone white lioness on the main road not too far from Motswari.

Wild dogs at camp
We got to see Kuhanya resting in a marula tree on the airstrip on our way back from fixing another river crossing a few days back; so we were delighted to see her looking good and still in the area.  Leopard tracks have been seen around the reserve, and Morne from Kings Camp also saw tracks for Nthombi and her two new cubs near their camp last week.
The camp is looking good, dirt tracks have been made around the large holes on Argyle Rd that are passable by 2x4 vehicles with good clearance, so our deliveries are starting to come in.  The electricity back on the national grid, and we have fixed many of the issues that arose during the floods, so much so that we resume with guests as of tomorrow!
Our staff are ready to welcome you back....

...even if not all of the roads are!  This is what is left of Concrete Crossing on the Nhlaralumi

The big challenge now will be the game drives; hopefully we can get the roads and crossings up to a better level in the near future, and we shall just have to see when the bush is dry enough to be able to drive off-road again without causing damage, but I am sure that it won’t be long before we are totally back to normal!
Thanks again for all the wonderful message of support following the floods, so great to see such care out there J
Was also amazing to see the great response to that last post – we received record views for that post on the flood, over 4000 views in two days, and this month, despite the lack of posts, we are going to have well over 20,000 views for the month!
Will catch up again with regular wildlife updates from tomorrow, so hope to chat you all checking back on the blog regularly from now on!


  1. Welcome back Chad, I am sure everyone missed the blog while you guys were closed.

    Good luck with sorting out the paths. Some 4x4 driving coming up for the guests :-)
    Glad to hear that one of the white lions was spotted as well as Kuhanya.


  2. Glad to see you back with us Chad, and I must say that I am surprised that it only took u 2 weeks. Just the amount of damage that was done, thought u would have been gone abit longer, but am happy thats not the case. I am also quite happy that u have had the response u have had and that many others have begun to experience the blog as well. Know that they won't be disapointed! Also congrats on you getting in with it will be a great way to expand your blog to many others that may not know much about it. Have a great drive and hope that kuhanya is abit more happy with you next time you see her, but amazing picture it was!

    Take care,

  3. So happy to see the blog back, so sad to see the flood damage, so hoping that what was and appears disastrous will prove giver of new life where there was no life before.

  4. Glad to see things are starting to get back to normal, and with the burnt feet (owch) you still have your sence of humour!! Kuhanya was obviously telling you off for allowing such devastation to happen! amazing picture...hoping to see her much calmer soon. Good Luck with the tracks and getting the visitors around - take care
    Karen and Les x

  5. Great to see the blog back. The flood water amazingly changed the landscape, it it incredible the amount of sand that has been deposited. Although there is a lot of water about at the moment know but the broken dams obviously supply water in the dry winter months so what is happening about re-building the dams?

    Hopefully the animals will return soon, they were lucky as there dont seem to be any reports of many losses. I suppose the biggest sufferers will be those that live underground.