About the Author

Pete Thorpe

Field Guide

Right from his very first bush trip at the age of four, Pete was always enthralled by this environment. Having grown up in the Middle East, Pete’s home-away-from-home has always been a bungalow in the Greater Kruger National Park, where his family had ...

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18 Comments

on What it Feels Like to be Surrounded By a Herd of Elephants

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

A wonderful experience. Elephants are such special animals. They sense and feel just like we do.

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

They truly are special. Its always humbling being so close to them.

Wendy Macnicol
Explorer

Hi there Judy. A couple of years ago my husband, Neil, and I spent a few days at Bakubung Lodge which is on the border of the Pilanesberg Reserve.. While there we decided to go for a drive and then have breakfast at a restaurant at a lodge near the top of the reserve. En route to breakfast there was a large bull elephant with his head in a bush and his bottom in the road in front of us. Knowing how they swing around to face you and could charge, we patiently sat there – at a considerable distance away. He got bored waiting for us to try and pass him, so he stuck his head in the bush again and munched away having HIS breakfast. Suddenly we saw a white station wagon appear at the top of the next rise and it came down the road towards this elephant. He immediately swung his big head OUT of the bush and turned to face this vehicle. The driver had driven too near and the next thing was he had to reverse SPEEDILY back down the road with the elephant after him. He didn’t have time to turn his vehicle around and so sped off as fast as he could – BACKWARDS – and he and the ellie disappeared down the road. There was peace. We gave them both time and then slowly and cautiously drove down the road keeping a good eye out for elephants or squashed white station wagons! However – we arrived at the restaurant and were having our breakfast when we overheard a broad Scots accent saying ” I thought my last day had come!” It was the driver and passengers of the white station-wagon! They were sitting at a table in a far corner. We were so pleased that they had arrived safely. Needless to say we went back to the Lodge via a different road. That afternoon we decided to visit Kwa Maritane – another resort just down the main road. We thought we would get away from elephants and just sit there and have a drink or something. We were about 100 yards through the main gate and guess what? We were stuck solid in a herd of about 40 elephants and there was a baby sleeping in the middle of the road. The babies get SO tired. He was flat on his side. The elephants were almost right up against our little Chevy Spark but they took no notice of us. We just sat there patiently for about half an hour and then Small Fry in front was woken by his Mom. She helped him to his tired little feet by pushing her toe under him and they wandered off. This allowed us to drive slowly to the Lodge and I just remember saying to the Receptionist “WHERE can I get a drink please??” She kindly pointed us to the big deck and we tottered out there and sank into chairs. Right in front of us was a big plain surrounded by hills. In front of us was a dam. All over the plain and in the dam and also right below us drinking out of the rock pool were at least another 40 – 50 elephants! If they had all turned pink it wouldn’t have surprised me. The whole experience was all so surreal. We just resigned ourselves to having an “elephant day” and enjoyed our lovely Irish Coffees!!! We agree with you. The ellies we saw all had lovely calm brown eyes with looong eye-lashes. We know. We could easily have counted each eye-lash …..
Wendy

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for your story about the elephant day. Sometimes one has action packed days out here! I have emailed your comment to Judy.

Denise Vouri
Digital Tracker

I know this feeling, suspended in the midst of the “gentle giants “, trying to guess what they’re doing, thinking…… the photos are a testament to the elephant’s acceptance of you in the green vehicle. Lovely blog.

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Thank you Denise! The elephants were definitely not disturbed by us at all. It was wonderful…

Ian Hall
Senior Digital Ranger

Any time you get really close to an Elephant it is always on their terms not yours and a wonderful moment.

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

I will have to agree with you on that one, Ian!

Darlene Knott
Senior Digital Ranger

An awesome moment for sure! Thanks for sharing, Peter. Elephants are so mesmerizing to watch. Their behaviors give us glimpses of their great intelligence. They are huge animals and can certainly make you feel vulnerable. Your experience was a very fortunate, magical moment!

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Truly magical, Darlene. I’m glad Judy and I could share the experience with you.

D. Phillips
Explorer

Thank you so much. It’s true, not all of us will have the blessing of visiting your beautiful country, but you have shared a part of it here. My heart yearns for the elephants. Kindred spirits. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Thanks for your comment, D. Phillips. Hopefully one day you too will also be in the presence of these majestic giants, whether it be at Londolozi (hopefully!) or elsewhere in Africa.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

Such an incredible sighting with beautiful photos to go with it. Hope to have an elephant sighting like that in Moremi in January!!

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Enjoy your trip to Moremi, Callum! I spent a few months working in Khwaai, which borders Moremi. You won’t be disappointed…

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

Thanks Pete, I definetely will!! That’s lucky!! We’ll be staying at Third Bridge, but might take a trip out Khwai. Any tips for the area?

Jazz Doc
Explorer

Phenomenal experience and description of it. Wonderful images, to boot! Thanks!

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jazz!

Janny Tam
Explorer

This inter-speci encounter is sacred ! I am touched,

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