Helicopter excitement as rivers flood

As the rivers came down after heavy rains in the Hoedspruit and Timbavati areas just before New Year, we reached that annual situation of having to think about how to get our guests in and out of camp.

Most often, the Nlharalumi river is kind to us, and the rise in water levels normally coincides with no departures or arrivals, but this season we were faced with a full camp of guests all leaving together to be on a scheduled flight to Johannesburg, and the rivers in full flood -- it was not even possible to walk guests across!

We were not going to be outdone by a couple of unruly and troublesome rivers, so early morning on 29 December, Dale and I called on one of our local helicopter charter companies, and arranged a Robinson R44 to ferry our guests from the camp, over the rivers, to the Rockfig airstrip, so that they could be transported from there by road to Eastgate airport.

As the big group was departing from the airport on their flight to Johannesburg, the next group arrived and, given the option to wait until the rivers subsided or to also use the helicopter, the group made the obvious choice and another set of flights was made to ferry them in to camp.

All in all, everyone agreed that this was a far more exciting means of arrival and departure, so much so that we are looking at how we could make it a regular feature for those who wish to "arrive in style".

"There is something very special about seeing the African bush from the air," said Don Scott, co-owner of Tanda Tula.

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