Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Rescue

After six hours of being stuck in the Nile swamp, the temperatures started to drop a little.  I climbed out along the bonnet of the car and stretched my legs.

I have to admit that spending the night out in the park did not appeal too much, but at least we should be pretty safe.  We still had loads of water, plenty of food.  It would just be uncomfortable and a bit daunting with all the wildlife around.

As I was just about to get back into the car I caught the noise of an approaching engine.  At last, I thought, the grader come to rescue us.

What astounded us was not that it a grader came round the corner but a battered, old, dark blue VW golf.  Driven by Fred Ssekiwoko, with two young Belgian Friends.  After introducing ourselves we politely asked if they had a tow rope - no, came the reply and we started a discussion about what to do.

Fred seemed happy to go wandering about in the water, something I had been very careful not to do, and after a while reckoned he could probably get our car to work if we could get two wheels on the same side touching the ground.  He took our jack and our collapsible tyre wedge and started to lift the car out of the water on the back right side.  This had the effect of putting both left wheels onto the ground tripoding the car on those 2 and the jack.  He then instructed me to drive the car backwards off the jack while everyone else pushed.

A crunch, a crash, a squealing of dodgy 4wd and suddenly the Levante was back on dry land.  Simple.  Why hadn't we thought of this?

Well, probably because I am a crappy driver, and Fred turns out to be the best driver "in the woooorld".

We now have a bit of a dilemma - it is starting to get dark, we cannot turn the vehicles around as there is no space to do so and the ferry back across the Nile stops at 6.30 so come what may we are stuck on the wrong side of the river.  Fred and the boys are also late for getting back out the park, so I ask him which is the quickest way out.  "Don't know, I've never been here before"  !!!!

We head forward along the track - Fred suggesting a suitable route through our lovely pool.  We get through without any real trouble, and stop to wait for the Golf.  Fred also negotiates the pool fine and we headed off into the unknown.  The track got steadily worse, and the pools got deeper and wider.  At each one we stopped and Fred waded around in the water finding the shallowest route.  At some points we had to drive into the bushes to stay out of the deepest water, including at one point driving up a 4 ft high vertical banking and through an acacia bush.  The Golf grounded out here, but with a bit of man (and woman) handling we forced it up and over.

video


Eventually the roads improved and we could start heading back to Paraa.  We parted company with Fred, Lucas and Jurgen as they headed North to the park gate.

We headed into the most almighty thunderstorm, with the darkness falling and animals wandering all over the place.  Not exactly a recipe for speed.  We then took a wrong turning and finally came to rest at the exit gate  by the Paraa Safari Lodge.  Karen suggested we see if they have a room for the night, but instead I called the Red Chilli and they said someone would bring a boat over the river to ferry us back.

We abandoned the Levante in the car park an hour later when the good ship "Shoebill"arrived with Peter at the helm accompanied by 2 armed guards.  Crossing the Nile in the dark with the sounds of hippos ring out around us was a spectacular end to a trying day.  On the other side a land rover was waiting to take us back to our rest camp.  $20 to Peter and the boys and we were home.

Getting ready for bed a hippo came to graze at our door.  As I brushed my teeth, he chomped on grass three feet away.

Africa is a truly magical place, it kicks you in the butt and then rewards you back in more ways than you can count.

The grader that didn't save us.







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