My close encounter with an elephant in South Africa

Arriving back at Naledi Game Lodge in South Africa for my third time, I had only one wish — to be surrounded by elephants. I was yearning to have more time with my favourite animal, observing it in its natural habitat.

I had already gone on the morning game drive and decided to spend 3 hours at a hide. I was just finishing breakfast when I noticed an elephant on the television screen that was mounted on the wall. I soon realized that it was the webcam feed from the hide I was planning to visit.

The bull elephant was still at the waterhole when we arrived, but it was off camera and to the side of the hide, eating leaves. After an okay from Sipho, a tracker at Naledi, I quickly moved from the game drive vehicle, up the stairs and over to the side to get a good view of the elephant.

The Hide at Naledi Game Lodge.
Sipho, a tracker at Naledi Game Lodge, South Africa.

The bull elephant that rumbled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of a sudden the elephant emitted a rumbling sound. Sipho explained that the bull elephant was communicating. Sure enough, three more elephants came by for a drink. One by one they arrived at the waterhole and went to the back of the waterhole by the trees and furthest point from the hide.

2EleNaledi2015web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then an elephant that Sipho called  “Flopsy” (because of his floppy right ear) was the last of the five elephants to appear. He passed in front of the hide and nodded his head as if to say hello and joined the others for a drink. They hung around for about 45 minutes. I couldn’t believe all the time I had with them, alone, as Sipho had left just after Flopsy arrived. I got a little emotional and was thankful for the visit.

3 African elephants at a waterhole
Three wild African elephants at a waterhole, including “Flopsy”. My view from the hide above the waterhole.

The next day while on a game drive, Mike (my guide) heard breaking branches and followed the sound into the bush. We came upon 12-13 male elephants. I immediately thought it was “my” elephants as I had seen eight male elephants altogether the day before.

elephants in South Africa
My guide Mike taking a photo of the elephants with his smartphone

 

While Mike, Sipho & I were watching the elephants in front of us, we suddenly heard branches breaking behind us. We couldn’t see it; we could only hear it. After a few minutes, it came out from behind the tree and continued to eat nearby. It was Flopsy.

He was so close to the vehicle that I switched to my iPhone to get a few shots and started recording video. I giggled because I couldn’t believe how close he was and that I had to use my iPhone.

Then, this happened.

 

I was alone in the back of the game drive vehicle that day, and our vehicle had the sighting to ourselves. The only way to describe this 2-day experience is, magical.

I have always believed that elephants were magical. Now I know it’s true. Thanks to the expert guiding of Mike and fantastic tracking of Sipho, this experience will long live in my heart. I was completely calm and felt safe.

 

More – 

elephant walking down the road
We left the elephant sighting and found that one of the males had gone for a walk. Another Naledi Game Lodge is pictured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Naledi Game Lodges – a luxury, family friendly and relatively affordable lodge in the Greater Kruger area.
  • Africam – web cameras that stream 24 hours a day, three are located at Naledi Game Lodge.
  • Safari Live – For live streaming game drives from South Africa, check out Safari Live. It’s as if you’re in the back of the vehicle on a 3-hour drive, searching for wildlife. The drives are twice a day.
  • If you love elephants don’t ever ride them, ride in a game drive vehicle instead – https://www.thedodo.com/elephant-rides-trek-1132645600.html

 

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