It’s a sweltering 35°C outside. It’s so hot even the cicadas are quiet. Inside the cabin, the fan is working overtime, blowing warm air around the room, pretending to make it cooler. I’m pregnant and lying flat on my back, feet swollen like little lumps of pale white coal. The 180 degree view of the reserve is lovely, but you can’t help but notice just how dry and dusty the landscape is, how brittle the bush and how parched the waterhole.
Movement catches my eye. It’s a little duiker tiptoeing past the window on its way to the trough of water set aside by the owners of the private game reserve where we’re staying for the second half of our babymoon. With quick, furtive movements it dips its head to lick up a few drops, then scrambles back into the undergrowth.
Kwa-Zulu Natal was in the grip of the region’s worst drought in 33 years. We heard the locals complain, but it was only when we were on our way home a week later, shocked by the dead livestock lying next to the road, starved and dehydrated, that the reality really hit us. Not something I ever want to see again.
But I don’t know any of this yet while I’m relaxing in the cabin. I am just glad to be out of the car after two days of driving from Cape St Francis to Hluhluwe, looking forward to all the activities we had planned for this part of the trip. We had come to the greater St Lucia area because it was not a malaria region and it would be our last chance for a little while to see wildlife. There would be game walks, butterfly domes, hippos, and – the highlight of the holiday – turtles! We would be washing away the heat of the day while lounging in the pool, dining under the stars each evening and falling asleep to the sounds of the bush around us. It would be blissful.
Have you visited a drought-stricken area? How did it affect your trip?
For more posts in the Babymoon 2015 series, click here.