Visit

Too close for comfort: held hostage by 13 elephants

Mon 23 Sep 2019

Game viewing was calm, very calm. All the radios were quiet, apart from the guides chatting and updating each other in Setswana, as usual. So instead of trying to find the animals, we decided to let them find us while sitting safely sheltered in one of Limpopo-Lipadi’s hides.
This particular morning, we took up residence at the Mogorosi waterhole. Earlier the same week we had watched so many animals come for drinking: a steady stream of impala, zebra, kudu, bush pig, warthogs, baboons and birds. And at some point even a rhino and elephant at the same time. All we could hope for was to get just as lucky this time. In fact we got so lucky that we got more than we were hoping for and got stuck in the hide for five hours.

So there we were again. Upon arrival the waterhole was deserted except for the occasional guinea fowl, but not before long the first animals started to trickle down to the water. Wildebeest, skittish as ever, then a big herd of about 35 zebra, lots of impala, some giraffes. Enter the elephants, four big bulls, drinking, bathing, and splashing around. Oh, how excited we were! Coming from the west, we heard thumping footsteps: nine more elephants came strolling down to the water, eight bulls and one cow. Incredible, what a sighting! By then we had already been in the hide for almost three hours and we decided to stay a bit longer for this spectacle of splashing, playing and wooing elephants. We reckoned it would not take very long before the elephants would move on. That was a bit of a miscalculation. After we had seen all 13 in the water, four bulls decided to inspect the roots of the acacia trees around the hide and our game drive vehicle. A lot of grating, sniffing, pulling, pushing was going on around us, although we couldn’t see this from our enclosure. At some point one of the bulls came to the front with his head literally under the open windows of the hide. By now we really wanted to leave, this was a bit too close for comfort, but we knew there were elephants all around us and keeping us hostage in the hide, with no bad intentions as far as we could see. At some point we heard three of them distance themselves from the hide, which was our cue to pack up our things, get into the car as quickly as possible. After having been kept in one confined space we were happy to be out of there in more ways than one. But what an incredible adventure, with those magnificent gentle giants!