South African bush: beautiful and deadly

Last week, we were taken to Magwa Falls (5 days ago) and Fraser Falls (7 days ago), which are really gorgeous waterfalls near the Mbotyi area. At one of the falls, our guide, Dave, walked off of the beaten path and ended up with dozens of tiny ticks all over his legs. I didn't think much of it, since I spent most of my time standing in the river itself and not wandering around in the grass. But yesterday, I started to experience nausea, fever, headache, and general malaise. I felt a little better this morning, and went out for a day on the water as usual. By noon, I was feeling pretty rotten, and we called it an early day (there was no action, anyway). I took a short nap, and then we all drove up to the airport above Port St. Johns to check out the sunset. The short version of the story is that there were little pepper ticks everywhere up there, and I discovered that what I have been suffering from could be African tick-bite fever. Many photographers who have come here for the Sardine Run have gotten it after walking around in the bush.

When we returned from the airport after sunset, I promptly threw up in the parking lot before running to the bathroom to take care of some other, urgent business. Argh.

Some of the Cape gannets we've been driving by daily have had to regurgitate their sardines before fleeing from the boat. Maybe it's karma or something... :)

I have one, small skin lesion on my right leg, but it doesn't really look like photos of eschars I've seen on the web (no dark center). Many online sources say that the version of tick fever here in sub-Saharan Africa don't necessarily have accompanying eschars nor rash. I don't really want to go find a doctor here, so I may just attempt treatment by taking Doxycycline for 4 days and suck up the accompanying photosensivity.

Nausea sucks. Ticks suck, too.

*UPDATE JULY 3* Went to a doctor today (marked by "Surgery," the signs say), and it's probably just a stomach flu. Hope to get over it soon...

Magwa Falls: beautiful

Magwa Falls: beautiful

Me, shooting at the edge of Magwa Falls (photo: Giles Shaxted)