Articles: The Kruger National Park ...
Four Lions and a Puncture on the S90 in the Kruger National Park
It had to happen sooner or later I suppose.
I'd driven many miles on the sand and at times stony roads of the Kruger without any mechanical or vehicle problems. Today was different and it happened as we were viewing 4 lionesses alongside the S90 close to Satara in the Kruger National Park.
We had completed quite a long loop via the Timbavati and Sweni Rivers and had about an hour to spare before Satara Camp closed its gates. We decided to take a short drive up the H1-4 just to make the most of the time in this Kruger heaven. We'd gone about 4 kms when a car stopped me to say there were 4 lionesses close to the roadside on the S90. So we turned around and guessed we'd have about 30 minutes to get there and take a look. We were told the lions were about 4 kms down the S90.
As we drove back down the H1-4 Gareth, my son, mentioned that there was an unusual sound coming from the car which I dismissed as nothing serious, maybe it was the change in road surface ...
4 Lionesses Lying in the Grass and a Discovery...
We made it to the spot where the lions were and it wasn't difficult to find since the spectators were in position. There were about 6 other cars at the spot. Sure enough it was possible to see the heads of 4 lionesses that were lying in the longish grass close to the road ... probably 30 metres away.
I'd just switched the engine off when my wife indicated that a person in a car that had watched me pass wanted to talk to me. He said ... "Do you know one of your back tyres is almost flat?" No, was my answer and then it dawned on me ... that was the reason for the strange noise Gareth had pointed out. The tyre had already started deflating about 8 kms back and with my driving down the sand road I hadn't noticed anything unusual in terms of ride smoothness.
I decided it was time to leave since it seemed I had a bit of air left. No. I didn't get out of the car to check.
What a time to get a puncture and what a place ... more dangerous than the M1 in Johannesburg.
I had a decision to make ... do I drive very slowly back to Satara to minimise damage to my tyre and maybe wheel rim or do I get there as fast as the speed limit allows hoping that enough air will be remaining to get me back before the tyre became completely flat? I decided on the latter ...
It was quite a tense 15 minutes which is what it took to get back to Satara and once on the tar road sure enough it was obvious from the noise and feel that the tyre was very deflated. I just kept going fearing major damage to the tyre, while hoping for the best.
At the garage inside Satara it was plain to see that the back left wheel was completely flat but there appeared to be no real damage. The guys at the garage were fantastically helpful ... they removed the wheel fitted the spare which was a brand new previously unused tyre and didn't even want paying for it. Of course I did pay them well.
The cause of the loss of air was a small cut (probably from riding over a very sharp flint-like stone). 12 days later the front tyre on the same side also deflated with a similar small sharp cut ... looks like I rode over the same sharp stone with both wheels.
You can't see any photos of those 4 lionesses ... I didn't have time to take any. Now I have replaced 2 tyres and got myself an emergency temporary puncture repair device which blows a foaming substance inside the tyre under pressure to seal any small holes.
Any similar stories you would like to share?