Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
TITLE: Touched by Nature
By Charmaine Austen-Dreyer
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We arrived at our destination on a Friday night. Staying for two nights and two days – 24 hours of bliss!
Saturday morning greeted us with grey skies and low lying dark clouds, heavy with rain.
Over a hearty breakfast we played with ideas of what we should do for the day.
By the time we were ready to depart rain was coming down in sleet’s.
Off we went, driving through White River to Hazy View where we wanted to visit local attractions.
Seeing the mist rolling over the valleys we realised it would be fruitless to visit sites, where the beauty of mountains and waterfalls can only be enjoyed on a clear warm day.
We drove around in town finding the Tourism Information Centre where we could obtain advice and suggestions for places to visit.
Hester, the Tourism guide, introduced herself and suggested that we go to the Kruger National Park for the day.
She explained that the possibility of enjoying nature while it is raining would be the best option for the day.
Armed with a map we entered the park through the Paul Kruger gate, to exit at the Crocodile Bridge gate, closest to Nelspruit and the hotel.
The park closes at 6.00 (18.00) and we mapped out our route which allowed us to be in time for the closing of the gates for the night.
Little did we know that we are about to start a journey that will change our perspective about life forever.
So, without further ado I take you with us on our journey:
From the Paul Kruger gate it seemed that there were very few animals visible to the eye because of the weather.
Scattered across the plains, different buck species gracing, Koedoe’s, Springbucks and Impala’s. Some stood with bended heads, letting the drops of rain drip down from their foreheads onto the wet grass.
The first elation was seeing three leopards in a radius of, approximately 2km apart, eating its prey.
This was a great find as leopards very seldom show themselves to human kind.
Our visit to the Park has become an adventure sought after by many!
We passed white rhino, elephants, and vultures circling over the area, waiting for the remains of carcasses abandoned and amazingly, a Falcon eating rice ants.
Content and feeling blessed to have experienced Nature in one of its purest forms; we reached the Crocodile Bridge at 5.50, in the afternoon.
The camp was quiet, no vehicles, no activity. The guard at the exit gate approached us and explained that the bridge we have to cross to exit the camp has been flooded leaving us no choice but to turn around.
He advised that we were to take the first dirt road to the left and exit at the Malelane gate.
Now, somewhat concerned we followed his directions. On this gravel road we crossed a bridge with no sign of any floods – only lots of sand.
Driving, chatting the road snaking through a landscape of bends and twists we faced danger of a frightening kind.
A full grown Elephant, huge, was facing us in the middle of the road.
Behind us two other vehicles. With screeching brakes we came to a dead stop – the Elephant now angry, showing its aggression and then...breaking into a run.
In this split second we were left with only one choice; reverse, reverse.
This huge, bigger than life angry elephant, with ears flapping and feet stomping on the ground, chased us, we reversing with engines screaming.
He stopped around 500 metres in front of us, looking down on us, warning us.
Dead quiet, not moving we waited, stared.
Majestically it turned, walked off the road and into the bush, leaving us shaken, slumped in our seats, weak in the knees...grateful to have survived.
Now, driving at a speed way beyond the speed limit, darkness descending on us, danger in every bush and bend, we drove to find an exit gate; to leave the wild to the creatures it belongs to.
We had to turn around many times that night because of flooded, roads and bridges.
What we experienced needs to be told.
Until next time, the next experience we encountered in the wild – will you join us again?
God’s World touched us in ways that changed the course of our lives for generations to come!
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