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  • Bruce, Judy, Justin and Sabre. I am so sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I have no excuse. However, I do want to thank you for the wonderful experience I had while at your place. Your place had to be the highlight of the trip. And thank you for making the cake for my birthday. That was so nice. Also thank you to Justin and Sabre for giving up their Sunday. By now you have probably forgotten who I am. Hello to mamasinna (?spelling) and Thankyou for all the good food. Did your son ever get his papers he needed? Should have stayed in Africa-we've had no spring and its pouring today. Looks like we may not even get a summer. No point in complaining-BUT. Also enjoyed the talks you did in the evenings around the fire. Once again thank you so much.. Regards Linda Lamb
    - Linda Lamb, Canada
Hoedspruit Accommodation
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News & Updates

Cyclone Dando- Rivers in Retrospect

Published 9 February 2012 under Travelogue • Comments: 2
Cyclone Dando- Rivers in Retrospect
The little town of Hoedspruit and the surrounding private nature reserves of Timbavati, Klaserie, and Balule that make up part of the Greater Kruger Park are situated in a fairly arid area of South Africa (It’s just this characteristic that bestows us with our converted sweet grasses.)
Rain is revered; we pray for it, dance for it, discuss it constantly and even name our children after it. The current season was proving to a wet one even before the Tropical Storm Dando made landfall, over Mozambique and then the North East of South Africa. The first we heard of the impending weather change was from our children reporting that our local Southern Cross School had alerted them to an approaching cyclone. Typical to bush folk we shrugged the warning off; perhaps an inherent mistrust of our weather bureau is to blame. The hot humid afternoon of Tuesday Jan 17th exhibited none of the mayhem to come and we went to sleep that evening to the comforting distant rumble of thunder. Throughout the night we were aware of falling rain that became progressively more persistent until the drum of rain on the roof top was joined by the sound of rushing water as run off accumulated into streams and then rivers. Sleep was infiltrated by subconscious alarm bells at dawn, joy shifting to alarm and we stared in disbelief at the dam in front of our camp which was now lapping at the deck and had pushed under the doors of the rooms at the B & B across the way. The 4 x 4 vehicle of resident patrons was already axle deep in mud and with a little help from our friends we hurriedly got them out and on their way heading for the mountain pass, travelling through swollen rivers gushing over the tar road. And still the rain came down in a constant curtain of water.  There was no wind and only distant thunder, the downpour was misleadingly benign in all but sheer volume.
 
The small local community on our side of town instinctively sought out the refuse and companionship of the bush pub where we gathered under the thatch and watched the river rising. Soon the debris had collected at the bridge, slowing down the flow and causing the water to spread out, bursting its banks. Household goods and furniture were carried along by the brown swirl and we watched helpless as a parked vehicle was picked up and spun around. Still the bridge held. All communications and power was now cut off and speculation was rife. We had been notified earlier that morning that our beloved nDzuti Safari Camp was flooded with just the roof tops showing above the water and the land rover submerged. Gradually by late afternoon the sky brightened and rain slowed and paused intermittently allowing us to gingerly venture onto the bridge and marvel at the river and the volume and power of water. On many of the protruding bridge posts there was a snake of sorts that had managed to escape the torrent and cling on for dear life. Swallows were diving and swirling around us, their mud nests on the underside of the bridge ruined. Frogs leapt about and birds sang out brightly every time the sky lightened momentarily. Slowly the river subsided and a watery sun set on Jan 17th 2012.
During the night, out in the bush the water rose, overfull dams broke their earth walls so further flooding bursting rivers, roads became waterways and many folk had to hurriedly leave their beds to climb to a higher spot. The helicopters started at dawn, lifting stranded families from rocky islands in the stream or a yielding tree top. With the roads closed and the communications and power down it is a wonder they knew where to look.   For a few families living out in the bush(including our close friends Bruce and Tee McDonald) the cyclone and ensuing flood changed their lives irreversibly as they lost their homes, possessions and even their livelihood. Rebuilding of lodges is a lengthy process and some may decide to simply close shop. The air force base in Hoedspruit and the local municipality together with some concerned citizens distributed food and water to isolated areas. Here in the bush, weeks later the seep lines still ooze water out of the ground, the roads are deeply rutted and many river crossing are still impassable. The debris of numerous safari camps litter the flood plains of the major rivers and unrecognisable articles of clothing flutter in tree tops. The bush is a verdant green, sparkling and clean, the grass no longer lying flat but standing proud and tall- Even to those of us who witnessed the deluge, it almost looks like it never happened!    

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