|Rondavels in Skukuza Camp, Kruger National Park|
On our last night in the Kruger National Park in South Africa we decided to treat ourselves. We wined and dined in Skukuza's restaurant after being summoned to dinner by a waiter beating a thumping rhythm on the taut skin of a huge African drum.
Our meal was venison with a bottle of South African Zonnebloem (Sunflower) Pinotage. After coffee we sipped Amarula, a creamy liqueur made from the fruit of the African Marula tree.
Like the elephants who often become intoxicated after a feast on the over-ripe Fall fruit of the Marula, we, slightly less intoxicated, sans flashlight and hopelessly lost after leaving the well-lit restaurant, bumbled our way 'home' in the darkness between rondalvels that looked exactly alike.
Giggling and tripping along overgrown paths like two teenagers, James tormented me with frequent warnings about the fat sluggish puff adders that lie around in the darkness waiting for a sandaled foot like mine to prod them into deadly action.
Before heading off the following morning, we sat with other visitors on an elevated deck overlooking the river where buffalo, Sable Antelope, giraffe and kudu came down to drink.
A flock of doves swooped in, drank hastily then took off. Closeby a tiny mongoose peered cautiously from the exposed roots of a tree, then it scampered across the mud and sheltered beneath a rocky outcrop until the 'giants' wandered away replete, into the bush.
On our way to Numbi Gate and our exit from the Park, we came across a two-meter long black mamba wriggling ineffectually on the smooth hot surface of the paved road. Unable to gain traction, its frantic efforts to move forward were hopeless. It was obvious that without help it would eventually exhaust itself and die.
Anyone familiar with African snakes knows that a mamba's deadly venom can kill within minutes, but that did not deter James. He drove up alongside the reptile and put his hawthorn cane out of the car window against its body, providing the means for it to move forward. Repeating this several times the snake soon made the crossing and slithered silently into the bush.
Then and only then did we notice a line of cars behind us. The successful rescue had been watched by a fascinated audience!
Excerpt from my upcoming book...
Image copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 19th January, 2012