Saturday, January 16, 2010

sand river camp = locus amoenus

Home to the first 360 degree sunset.

Several people had suggested we stay at Sand River Camp. The site, which is actually a park gate, is nestled in the hills, on the winding banks of aptly-named Sand River. We were the only campers, which added to the feeling of remoteness of the place.

When we pulled up to talk to the rangers on the first day, they all shrieked and ran away. Turns out it wasn't because of us, but rather a young green mamba that showed up on the walls of the gate. Here's the deadly little guy eating a lizard. The ranger gave us a full lecture on the deadliness of the green mamba.

green mamba eating a lizard, which appears to be shitting itself

The first night at Sand River, after the amazing sunset, night fell and we were sitting at our campfire - when suddenly we heard what can only be described as munching. We took out the spotlight to check it out - a family of five elephants was walking along, eating grass on the other side of the car - not 25 yards from where we were sitting.

Our second night at Sand River, we decided to cross the river and camp a bit further from the gate. We picked a perfect spot with a tree on a bending bank. After a full day of incredible safari, we pulled up in the drizzle to set up camp. It had been drizzling all day, and it turned into full-on rain as night fell. Sometime while I was cooking dinner (minestrone soup mix with pasta and chicken added in), there was this strange howling sound. It gave me goosebumps. Again, out with the spotlight... but this time it wasn't animals, but rather a fast-rising river. Within minutes, Sand River had risen about 6 feet and was now a raging torrent of dark brown water.

morning after the deluge

We pulled the Defender up higher onto the bank and nestled in for a night of flood-filled dreams. The next morning, we took our time with breakfast, assuming the bridge was out.

We weren't alone. A vervet monkey crept up on our campsite and perched himself in the tree. It didn't take long to figure out he was casing the joint, and as we were merrily photographing his blue balls, he chose the perfect moment to run into our campsite, tucking a bag of rainbow-colored pasta under his arm football-style, looked both ways and ran. Danny was fast behind him (yes, he chased a wild monkey to retrieve our pasta), returning and fist-pumping the bag of pasta he stole back from the monkey.

And THAT was the end of our stay at Sand River.

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