If you were born in Africa, at sometime you would have experienced the smell of the first drops of rain on a dry thirsty earth. This smell becomes imprinted on you and when you understand its importance you feel a secret superiority – you feel you have been given a stamp that bonds you to the earth forever. This smell is called petrichor, a word derived from Greek origins to describe the scent that accompanies the first rains after a dry spell.
In early January 2012 and 2013 the skies opened and unleashed their power upon the land. The rains affected the entire Limpopo Transfrontier Park hitting camps in the Kruger National Park the most severely. The rains followed a pattern. Just when we thought that the rains were over in 2012, the rains were back on the exact day a year later. As 2014 rolled in, we were prepared for any predicted eventuality!
As is often the nature of life, the rains did not arrive in January. Instead Londolozi’s staff and guests watched mesmerized as the horizon lit up in shades of deep blues and bruised purples during the first week of March. We watched the lightning pierce the clouds, and trembled at the rumbling thunder, every bit of it awakening a sense of excitement as it rolled in to soak the summer land and swell the rivers until they too were thundering past.
In spite of the mayhem, every being around us seemed to embrace the rain. Even the hawk moths did not let the storms interfere with their work – flittering from flower to flower while the rain continued to pour. Under the safety of cover, guests were treated to delicious high teas, hot chocolate and the Londolozi family’s signature service that outshone even the darkest of skies.
When the sun appeared a few days later, the land showed itself flourishing in hues of green grass, wild parasol and white sage. Out on a game drive the Sparta pride lay in the grass, the youngsters with paws facing the sky. It was a marvelous sight to see the pride. They, like us, seemed content taking in the freshness of the bushveld around them. Since the rains, many of our identifiable leopards have begun to reappear, lazing on termite mounds; pawing their way through muddy crests and even hoisting a massive buffalo calf into a marula tree.
Despite the flourishing landscape, the floods also have the tremendous power to change the course of rivers, uproot trees and shift the rolling landscape. Around the world, as our planet experiences the many faces of Mother Nature, nobody can guarantee what the weather will do next. The only constant is change….but hey, that’s life!
Written by: Kate Collins
Photographs by Rich Laburn, Mike Sutherland, Simon Smit and James Tyrrell