Wild Dogs and Wild Weather

October 31, 2016

My South African Adventure

Since my first story on South Africa many people have asked , “ So what happened next?”

Every day in South Africa dawns differently to the one before and so it was with my husband and

I….

After the beautiful sunset on our first day in Africa we met for cocktails and dinner on the

main deck at Madikwe Private Game Lodge. In the distance had been a rumbling of rain all

afternoon but unlike here in Australia it took a very long time to reach us. We sat down

chatting excitedly about our day and the animals we’d seen when a tremendous gust of

wind blew out every candle on the table. Eerie! We hurried inside before the heavens

ripped open and a massive thunderstorm roared through Madikwe.

It had not rained in months.

Waking up early the sky was still filled with lightning , thunder and torrential rain. Yet

forever the eternal optimist I dressed ready for our morning safari .The ranger’s call came at

5am “ Too wet, we’ll call again at 6. “ I knew in my heart that I had not come all this way

and conquered so many fears to be deterred by a bit of rain, yet with the thunder it seemed

too dangerous. By six the thunder had gone, the sun peeked out and a small group of

diehards including us were off again.

Calm after the storm

New waterholes had appeared overnight and the creatures of Madikwe were loving it.

Herds of huge Cape Buffalo and their many calves seemed less dangerous frolicking in the

water.

We spotted the rare Brown Hyena skulking across the road and then a very lucky giraffe

whom I promptly named Gus. Gus was one of the luckiest giraffes in Madikwe for on his

back was a huge scar from where he’d been mauled by a lion. How he escaped we’ll never

know!

We stopped for coffee near some hills which had been shaped by a coral reef millions of

years ago. We all fell quiet… There was something extremely magical about this part of the

park. Then we began to laugh for on the very tip top of the hills were a herd of elephants.

Now how could they get up there? Heavy lifting, indeed!

An Encounter with the Painted Wolves

The radio sprang to life.. Wild dogs or painted wolves ( a feature of Madikwe) had been

spotted in the area off to the East. Off we raced at full pelt careering along the muddy

tracks as though we were part of the Dakkar rally. ( Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of speed

either) . Oh, well I just held on to my hat and thanked heaven for my trusty raincoat

preventing me from being spattered with mud. My hubby was not so lucky. We first came

upon some spotted hyenas and knew we were close. These scavengers hang about waiting

for the predators to leave a kill so that they can feast on what is left.

The pack of wild dogs had made the kill and then a lazy lioness had taken over, so with

some trepidation we were on the lookout for an agitated pack of dogs. Round the next

corner there they were , yellow in the morning sun with black stripes and man, were they

fast. The leader let out a strange bark . He’d spotted the lurking hyenas and was warning

them away.

Our truck idled as we watched this majestic scene playing out before us….A real David

Attenborough moment! With hearts still racing from our adventure we reluctantly headed

back to the Lodge.

Relaxing ?

After a morning sitting in the truck you’re ready to move again so I headed to the gym

whilst one of my friends chose to opt for a massage. Refreshed and stretched we both

headed back to the rooms together. Luckily we were laughing like the spotted hyenas and

chatting loudly …. Loudly enough to scare off the enormous Black Mamba ( one of the

deadliest snakes in Africa) that was slithering across our path. We scurried to reception to

tell them of our discovery and they were impressed by our bravery. I’m sure most visitors

would not be as familiar as Aussies, with snakes in the backyard. Paul just said, “They can

jump you know.”

“ Thanks, honey that made me feel much better… Not!”

I will forever be grateful that I was not walking back alone. My story could have ended very

differently.

A Barbecue – South African style

In the evening we were treated to some beautiful African singing and dancing from the staff

at the Boma ; a traditional barbecue that included gnu stew, chakalaka and springbok.. At

the feast you tell stories of your African adventures as you gather around the fire.This was

perhaps one of my favourite parts of our stay and I once again became teary listening to

those beautiful voices, but not for long, as I was soon chosen to dance. I remembered the

wisdom of Oprah , “ And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

And that’s just what I did , all the while keeping a wary eye out for Black Mambas.

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).