I went to bed early last night leaving everyone else around the fire. I wasn’t surprised to find only a handful of people up the next morning for the walk. That handful quickly turned into just Horst as my “Back-up” and Will as the only participant as others went back to bed, my first official guest since I qualified as a Lead Trails Guide. They missed out as today was “Elephant Day”.
On the walk we had two elephant encounters. Both times we got ourselves into a good position to watch them feed. The first, a pair of bulls, didn’t know we were there but the second, a loan bull, whilst aware of us was unconcerned. As we watched him we could here both vervet monkeys and impala alarming in the thick riverine bush much further back. I entertained the idea, albeit briefly, of going to investigate as I was 99 percent sure there was either lion or leopard in there somewhere. It was just too dense and I wasn’t up for taking any unnecessary risks especially as there was a good chance it was lion given all the spoor we’d seen so far on the walk.
We saw another elephant bull on the flood plain which we planned to make an approach on but he simply disappeared into the ether and finally as we approached our pick up point at Manqeba we saw a breeding herd of elephant on the Jachjacha flood plain. The elephants are here in numbers.
Still, it’s not necessary to leave camp to see Makuleke’s elephants as they sometimes pay house calls. This time it was “Dave” and his buddy who popped in to say hello. As he was choosing to come into our territory we were able to get a little bit closer than we would if we were out walking. We simply sat down and watched the two of them from a distance of no more than ten metres.
However, we did make a mistake by accidentally blocking the route that he had wanted to go (he changed direction as he fed on the umbrella thorn). Luckily all turned out well but there were five minutes or so of a stand off where he and his side kick asserted their authority over us mere humans. I don’t think there was one amongst us who could say that their hearts were not racing uncontrollably.
The afternoon was a simple drive up the old western boundary for a bit of phone signal and some wine. Then it was off to bed early as I’m leading the walk again in the morning and its going to be a big one.