Pretoria - A Faerie Glen couple’s idyllic getaway to a private game lodge east of Botswana turned into a nightmare when they had to spend several hours of the night on a rooftop after heavy rain flooded their chalets.
Charles Erasmus on Monday described what happened to them as “chaos” and said they were grateful to be unharmed and safe.
Erasmus, his wife Tosca and a group of friends left for Botswana last week and booked in at a lodge.
He said the area where the lodge is situated, near Mashatu game reserve, had already had about 60mm of rainfall when they arrived on Thursday.
Erasmus said the group had arrived in two vehicles which were left at the Pont Drift border post in South Africa.
“From there we made our way across the Limpopo River via a cable car,” he said.
Erasmus said they have since been told that one of the vehicles had been swept away by the water.
The group was having dinner on Sunday evening when told by lodge staff to evacuate their chalets owing to flooding.
“When we arrived at our chalets the water was already knee-deep.
“We were told to take our belongings to the lodge’s kitchen which was situated fairly high up,” he said.
Erasmus said from there, as a precaution, they were helped up on to the roofs of the staff quarters.
“We were well equipped with ponchos and umbrellas.
“We waited there until about 2am when the water level subsided a little,” he said.
Erasmus said the kitchen area was completely dry and their belongings were safe, dry and undamaged.
“Except for the vehicle which has apparently been swept away, we did not suffer any other damages.”
Erasmus said when they woke up on Monday morning, most of the water had subsided.
“We could not stay there and could not leave via the cable car as it was swept away.
“We could also not take the chance of crossing the Limpopo River by boat as it was still too dangerous,” he said.
A game ranger took the group in an off-road vehicle to the Limpopo Valley airfield where a plane would pick them up. “The road to the airport was still flooded but the game ranger managed to get us to the airport safely by dodging a few potholes.
“We are now waiting for a plane from Lanseria and hopefully we will be home soon,” he said.
Mashatu game reserve managing director David Evans said the area had 450mm of rain fall in the past five days.
“The safety of our guests was our main concern. Fortunately, Mashatu suffered minimal damage from the floods and the two Mashatu camps were unscathed,” he said.
Evans said the cable car that ferries tourists across the Limpopo River from South Africa to Botswana, was damaged.
It would need some work done to it to get it fully operational again.
“In the interim, a boat will be used to cross the Limpopo River until such time as repairs can be effected,” he said.
Erasmus said once home, they would go to the Pont Drift border post to assess the damage caused to the vehicle that been left there.