Tuesday, 22 January 2013

19th and 20th January – The Termites Were Right...Our Rivers Flood Again!

Photo of the Day
The Nhlaralumi River flowing over Ingwelala Bridge

19th January Morning Drive
(Chad, Andrea and Grant)
1 x leopard (Machaton male) – Motswari, Reception Link
2 x rhinos
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Vielmetter, Sandy Crossing
4 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Umbabat Cutline
3 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Rd
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Sandy Crossing
Nyosi River Flowing

19th January Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Andrea)
No Big 5 Sightings
Sohebele River Flowing
Machaton River Flowing
Nhlaralumi River Flowing

20th January Morning Drive
(Chad and Andrea)
No Big 5 Sightings

20th January Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Marka and Johannes)
1 x breeding herd of elephant – Karans, Western Cutline

Daily Synopsis
It is almost uncanny that a year and a day after the massive floods of January 2012, all of our rivers started flooding again!  Yip, following 250mm of rainfall over the past week, we once more got to see the remarkable site of our dry riverbeds turning into raging torrents!  Luckily for us, the rains this year were much more reasonable and rather than a deluge of 450mm in 36 hours, these 250mm were spread out over a whole week and led to the rivers slowly beginning to flow on the afternoon of the 19th, peaking late on the evening of the 20th as water continued to flow forcefully along all the rivers, even the Sohebele in front of the lodge.  Luckily though, the level of the floods were far lower than 2012 and all our chalets were unaffected; the poor pathways needed some TLC in the morning, and logistically it was a bit of a headache with guest arrivals and departures due to the Ingwelala Causeway flooding on the Argyle Rd, but overall it was just a great experience to see the rivers flowing.

Nhlaralumi flowing hard enough to make crossing it impossible for several hours

As far as game drives go, the first morning of the rain was a bit unpleasant due to the nearly constant rain and the lack of off-road driving due to all the rainfall.  I decided to leave my camera at home in the rain as I made my way west through Argyle towards the western boundary, not seeing much at all besides impalas and steenbuck, but even they were scarce.

I then jumped south towards Vielmetter as the rain started coming down harder, luckily we temporarily forgot about that as we found two rhinos near the road.  Moving on towards Elephant Dam, Andrea told me that she had audio for lions roaring nearby, and I helped her search the area, and we were confident they were close, especially as there had been a herd of buffalos nearby last night.  Sadly the rain had washed away all tracks, even those of the buffalos!  Luckily we picked up tracks at Entrance Dam for the buffalos and as we followed they got fresher and we could see that they had walked during the rain, so we swung around towards Hide Dam and managed to follow the flying oxpeckers to the buffalo herd feeding on the lush banks of the now-flowing No Name River – it was a stunning setting and made better by a lone elephant in their midst, but sadly he ran off. 

The afternoon was still raining, so the cameras stayed behind, and while none of us saw any Big 5, we didn’t really care, as we got to see some other special sights...all of our rivers flowing!  I expected the Machaton and Nhlaralumi, but not the Sohebele to be flowing, but arriving at Flooded Crossing, for once, it was flooded!  Up at Lover’s Leap we saw that the river had actually just began flowing past there and the head water was yet to reach Argyle Dam, but the way it flowed, it didn’t take long and the crocodiles and hippos seemed to relish this greatly!

Braving the rain to see the Sohebele flowing past Lover's Leap

Moving towards the Nhlaralumi the rest of the afternoon, it was wonderful seeing Mbali Dam full again as well as water flowing bank to bank along the whole course of the river – what a change from a few days back!  The drive carried on in the rain as we made our way back to the lodge, having seeing very, very little, but still delighted with all the water around!

The next morning I did take my camera out, but for no other reason than to take a few pics of the water – we still checked the watercourses and all were still flowing strongly, if not stronger than the day before – Argyle Dam filled up during the course of the morning and by the afternoon the water was flowing strongly past Motswari, filling up our broken dam and transforming the riverbed in front of the lodge to a watery paradise!

The Sohebele flowing nicely

The Nhlaralumi at the confluence of the Machaton

Some animals that showed themselves in the rain

The game was again very, very scarce, and we saw nothing but impalas, zebras and giraffes before making our way back north realising that hardly any of our crossings were crossable...despite this, and despite the heavy rains in the afternoon, we braved the conditions and did an afternoon drive, but besides waterbuck, hippos, impalas and a brief sighting of a herd of elephants, the best sighting of the afternoon was arriving back to a warm shower!

Machaton River

Sohebele in full flow

Water overflowing Argyle Dam

The Nhlaralumi River

Waterbucks...and water!

The rains continued all night, dropping another 60mm during the evening, and pushing the Sohebele even more so that it flowed bank to bank past the camp – what a wonderful way to enjoy a dinner with the cacophony of frogs, the pitter-patter of the rain and the gushing of the river past the lodge...so despite no animals, everyone seems to appreciate just what a lovely sight it is to see water flowing like this!

The Sohebele in front of Motswari before the rains really came

The Sohebele at its fullest in front of the lodge...with Mr Solly posing for some photos!

The forecast is for more rains tomorrow, so this might not be the end!

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