On the river & the return of King Kong. Day 12: Augrabies National Park

My husband has broken his foot. Thankfully this is atypical of an otherwise fantastic day spent on the Orange River, courtesy of Kalahari Adventures and an enthusiastic family.

Everyone is up, daypacks packed and ready for adventure by 7h30am and on the river an hour later. It would be disingenuousof me to suggest that I am not a little nervous about hurtling down the rapids with a four year old and a seven year old. The reality is that this is just the start. I know in my bones that we’ll be doing far more ‘activity and adventure’ type holidays in the future as the boys get bigger, so I may as well just accept it and get on with it.

Despite the rather scary safety briefing and the rather small-looking rafts, once we’re on the water, I find myself rather enjoying it . Hubby and I have the obligatory “left isn’t left it’s right” fractious conversation, before we manage to settle into a passable paddling rhythm. Admittedly, hubby does shout directions from the back but the point is that the boat is going forward (most of the time) and I’m not too worried about it when it doesn’t.

My youngest and middle son are in boats with the pro guides and big sis and big brother are sharing a raft and healthy arguments upstream. The first weir is gentle and just enough to let my stomach flip a bit. The guides have promised me mostly flat water with just a few eddies, bubbles and a little white water while the boys are on the river. The plan is for us to leave at lunchtime so that the bigger ones can get on with the adrenalin rush.

Laughter, sunshine and exercise – the best combination!

After lunch on a sandy island in the middle of the river, we leave big sis, big brother and hubby on the river for the’real’ white water and head back to camp for a quietish afternoon. The boys and I are disappointed that we have to cancel our planned rock climbing afternoon as a horrible wind is throwing dust around like a two-year old having a tantrum.

In our chalet I am talking to the boys to figure out a new plan for the afternoon when I have this weird sense that there is something behind me. When I turn round, I see King Kong sitting on the worktop stuffing his face with dried penne pasta straight from the packet. He is not happy to see me and I am even less charmed by his presence.

I send the boys to their room and tell them not to come out until I call them. They scurry off and it’s King Kong and me, eyeball to eyeball. We’ve been told by the rangers to watch out for him as he is pretty aggressive and apparently particularly delights in intimidating women and children.

A baboon in my kitchen is one thing, a chauvinistic one is a totally different thing! Once again I do my best impression of a thunderously mad baboon (albeit female) and stomp towards him but all he does is grab an unopened packet of my beloved muesli rusks and proceed to chew his way through the contents, scattering chunks of it and half-eaten pasta everywhere. Now I’m cross. I grab a chair for cover and stomp it towards him, growling and grimacing. Finally it seems he realizes that I mean business and hops off the counter to walk crab-like towards the door to the outside (I am relieved that the boys are staying put).

But then we both realise more or less at the same time that the door has blown shut in the wind. King Kong is trapped and that is so not a good thing! I have to urge him away from the door but this is also in the direction of the boys’ room , and he is looking highly agitated, so I’m feeling a little nervous. A cornered wild animal, no matter how habituated, is no-one’s playmate. I take a different tack and lob an earlier discarded rusk to the side of the baboon. He shows some short-lived interest in the food, but its enough time for me to swing the door open. I back off to give him some breathing space and hope that he will do the gentlemanly thing, admit defeat and exit. But no such luck, he is annoyed and pushes towards me baring his teeth….canines that are so much longer than I would have imagined a baboon to have. I stand my ground (I know I have limited time before the boys’ curiosity forces them out of their room and the unpredictability of two young boys and a menopausal male baboon strikes me as a particularly bad combination). He gives me one last challenging stare and then walks out, very slowly, more rusks tucked under one arm and two oranges under the other.

The boys charge out of their room as they hear King Kong exit, babbling excitedly. I am officially a superhero! We opt for a dip in the pool (that’s the Victorian we obviously) and it’s not long before the others are back from their river adventures.

And just then my day seems to start all over again….

… the wild water trio return and big bother is supporting hobbling hubby. He can barely walk. The children tell me that he jumped onto a submerged rock in the river (don’t ask!).  I drive him 40km back to Kakamas to find a doctor on a Sunday afternoon in one of the sleepiest towns of the Northern Cape. As is the way in this part of the world, we find a fantastic GP who gets up from his Sunday afternoon nap to pop on a plastercast, and magic up some brand new crutches and a handsome stash of painkillers.

X- rays at the hospital tomorrow but for now, we drive home into the sunset.  I find myself counting the palm trees and life is OK.



4 thoughts on “On the river & the return of King Kong. Day 12: Augrabies National Park

  1. Oh my word- what an adventure! Tell Edward that he is not alone as I also had to find my way around Zambia and Botswana with a broken foot! Have fun Gosling-Catchpoles! Looking forward to welcoming you back.


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