Seven encounters: An interesting morning

13th March 2014
A bull elephant comes out of the bushes as we begin our walking safari

© Marian Verkade

16th February 2014

As soon as we stepped off the vehicle at Mashisiti Quarry we came across what looked like fresh elephant and buffalo tracks. We were just fifty paces into our walk and we realised just how fresh the ele tracks were. A big bull came rushing out of the trees and gave us all quite a fright. He was standing tall showing us who was boss on the other side of a a big puddle. At no more than 15-20 metres away he was quite a sight and my heart was pounding as I stood next to Bruce.

The ele made another move as if to come through the water at us, at this point Bruce dropped his stick to be ready with his rifle. Luckily the elephant thought better of it however he did make his way around the water to come and investigate who/what we were. In response we simply moved in the opposite direction keeping as much of the water between us as possible. In the end he went one way and we the other as we carried on with our walk.

James Bailey rests under a nyala tree during a five hour walking safari

© Marian Verkade

The rest of the walk, all five hours of it was just as eventful with a further six encounters, all of which were buffalo. This left us all totally shattered, it’s totally draining being on constant alert. I suppose it’s similar to driving fast along a motorway, you have to keep concentrating or you could end up having a nasty accident. Sascha kept my energy up with a constant supply of shortbreads and Wien was a welcome sight at the end with tea and biscuits when we made our rendezvous point.

After I picked Jomi up from the gate we headed straight back out on the afternoon game drive which I took. I wanted to make sure that this one was more of a success than the night before. It was but it was not plain sailing. The battery on the Landy failed half way round so it meant that we couldn’t stop the engine and we had no headlights. Driving back with just a spotlight operated by Jomi was difficult, especially on badly battered roads after all the rain and the fact that he kept on (understandably) getting distracted by possible animals in the bushes he swung the spotlight on them which left the road in the dark. It was a long and tiring drive back but we had some great sightings including spotted hyena, buffalo, black backed jackal and a big male leopard.

Jomi said, “Can you smell the popcorn? There should be a leopard nearby”, then as we rounded the corner there he was walking up the road. We didn’t spend too long with him as he went and laid low, that was probably a good thing as I was trying my hardest not to stall the Landy. It wasn’t going to be the best place for a push start.