Marian and Mike Myers from Wilderness Safaris capture the first rains of green season at Hwange National Park – soggy baboons and all!
At 3:00am in the dark stillness of a heavy summer night, a slight breeze lightly touched my skin like a wet puppy’s nose investigating its human mother. I drifted back to sleep and awoke a bit later to find that the breeze had now morphed into a gale, accompanied by heavy raindrops pelting down on our canvas tent. Being a naturally heavy sleeper, the sounds and smells of the first real rains of this long dry and very hot summer hovered around my consciousness more spectacularly than any dreams could possibly have. At 5:00am, in between raindrops and gusts of wind, our wake-up call wafted into our tent. If only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, who gets up on a dark, wet, soggy summer morning on safari?
Bush lovers do! Realizing that I definitely did not pack appropriately – having had consistent average daytime temperatures of 39°C for the past three months, meant that I could not even look at a sweater, nor remember where they lived in my cupboard. I layered on whatever I had in my case and off we went. The morning was crisp and wonderful. At last the summer rains had arrived. Looking closely at the straw-coloured landscapes, I noticed there were bursts of young green growth that had shot forth in spite of the lack of water and impossible heat. But this morning heavy, fecund clouds hovered in a grey sky, tipping their watery contents onto a desperately thirsty earth. It was exhilarating.
We trickled out along the track from Davison’s Camp towards Big Somavundla Pan where we found sodden Peter the Pelican, the resident pelican of the pan, patiently perched and enjoying a summer shower. The hippos kept their noses and faces out of the choppy water as they blinked the raindrops away like tears. This is weather for ducks, and they made the most of it dashing around with renewed energy. As our tires rolled into the dips in the road they squeezed splashes of water out to the sides making a sound that I can’t find the right adjective to describe. Mike says it is a ‘swishing-sloshing-sound’, but I just can’t describe it. Nonetheless, it is a sound that says ‘water, water, and lots of it’!
There is absolutely nothing more disgruntled than a soggy baboon. While one cannot presume to know what an animal is thinking, one can observe from the body language and make a human assumption. Miserable – that is the only word that came to mind when we found the troop of baboons at Imbhiza on the northern fringe of Wilderness Safaris’ Linkwasha Concession. They literally were sitting like a field of dark, soggy-haired lumps in the grass with their back to the rain. The rain made their grey hair clog into clumps of wetness that they occasionally tried to shake off, but it did not improve their demeanor. This made me laugh as these comical characters cause more trouble than any camper or bush operator can imagine, and now they were disarmed. It was wonderful to see.
But they weren’t the only ones that appeared disheveled in the new summer rains of the season. On the trunk and branches of a fallen tree that was now so deeply rain-soaked that it looked heavily polished and shiny, we found two noisy guineafowls. Usually perfectly turned out in their dark polka-dot attire, these two looked as though they had certainly had a rough night. It was hard to determine if their cackling calls into the set-in rain were pleasure or otherwise.
The morning was delightful with different and unusual sightings such as a termite irruption that was chased down by yellow-billed kites; and then again later we found mating pearl-spotted owlets, reedbuck with big shiny ‘Rudolf’ noses, and dung beetles by the thousands. These beautiful little bubbles of beetle popped out as if to announce: ‘Keep calm, summer is officially here’. There were so many of them that it made for tricky driving at the end of a successful morning’s outing. Weaving in and out like a drunk driver, we tried to make sure that every beetle was safe to enjoy and celebrate the end of his or her hibernation.
As the day unfolded, the summer heat melted the thick grey clouds to reveal a glorious clear blue sky, a humid and warm afternoon followed by a breathtaking sunset. Rainy days in southern Africa don’t usually set in without giving you a break; instead, they tease us with their watery relief and then race away leaving a relieved landscape and its wildlife rejuvenated.
Reach out to our team and let them plan your next safari during green season at Hwange National Park!