In the dull light of a half-moon we came to a halt underneath the canopy of a large Torchwood tree. The sudden silence was startling with the absence of the engine.

On the other side of the tree was a big bull elephant. It was close to us.  We went all lights down; headlights, spotlight and even the radio off for complete quiet.

The bull slowly shifted its weight from foot to foot. One could hear the sound of gravel crunching under large round feet and the sound of cold night air being sucked in through the hollow trunk.

The moonlight exaggerated the white of the tusks as he swayed from side to side, sweeping his trunk over the ground, searching.

He was looking for the pecan nut-shaped pod of the Torchwood tree. The fact that he hadn’t stopped foraging in our presence told me he was unperturbed by us.

Ele Makhomsava 2

Having sidled up to within a couple of feet of our vehicle in his search, he turned his attention to the tree. Facing the tree trunk he extended his own trunk overhead, resting it against the bark. Then, leaning forward, he shook the entire six metre tall Torchwood.

First we heard leaves rustling. Then Torchwood pods rained down all around us. There were loud thuds as the pods made contact with the bonnet of the Land Rover, some falling into vehicle on the seats next to us, one even landing in the lap of the guest behind me.

Immediately the elephant’s trunk dropped to the ground searching again, this time finding freshly fallen pods which were swiftly hoisted mouthward. As we sat holding our breath, frozen with amazement, we could hear each pod being crunched while the trunk dropped to the ground again, sucking in vast quantities of air as he smelt for the next pod.

Dissatisfied after a short-lived search the bull leant into the tree once more, this time with his forehead giving it another almighty shake. Again we were showered in pods.

All this time we sat in absolute silence, enchanted. Our hearts racing but somehow feeling an extreme calmness in the presence of this gentle giant.

After who knows how long, as we had lost all sense of time, we slowly moved off leaving the elephant to its Torchwood. A few minutes later we arrived back in Varty Camp car park. Everyone still in silence.

When all six guests had disembarked I called them together and asked, “How did everyone find that?”, for I was still reeling from the experience. Excitement and emotion poured out as everyone spoke at once for the first time.

We all agreed that we felt nothing but awe, having shared that moment together in the presence of a magnificent animal.

About the Author

Rob Jeffery

Field Guide

Rob joined the Londolozi team at the start of 2017. Having grown up on a farm in the Cape and spending many holidays traveling Southern Africa he developed a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural world. After completing a ...

View Rob's profile


on A Moonlit Night Under a Torchwood

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Beautifully written blog Rob. An amazing and awe inspiring experience.

Denise Vouri

Wow! That had to have been amazing. Sometimes the best experiences happen when you least expect them. Safaris aren’t all about taking pictures but to just enjoy the moment at hand.

Rob Jeffery

Agreed! Sometimes it’s best to put the cameras down and simply absorb the moment.

Andrew Bolnick

Awe, exactly the word to capture our entire five day experience out in the bush. Its been 7 months since our visit to Londolozi and it seems like only a few days ago…still in awe. Thank you again

Ian Hall

Beautifully written

Joanne Wadsworth

There’s no doubt about it….you certainly write well, Rob. I was transported straight into your Land Rover and sat, as if there, transfixed near the Torchwood Tree and it’s massive visiting guest. That was a five star moment that won’t be forgotten for you or your guests. Londolozi does that, you know. Oh here….a pod fell into my lap.

Rob Jeffery

Thanks Joanne, yes I will never forget that. Moments like that remind me how fortunate we are to live and work out in the bush everyday. Thanks for the comment!

Mary Beth Wheeler

Inspiring story, well-told! I was there, in awe too…

Darlene Knott

Mesmerizing moments for sure! Listening, observing, feeling a part of nature is the best way to experience it! Thanks for sharing!

Judith Guffey

I love Rob’s prose. I was right there with him while reading the blog. Great storyteller as well as ranger.

Callum Evans

Sounds like such a magical encounter!!

Chelsea Allard

What a unique experience. As I’m sitting here in my dining room another world away, I feel like I’m right there listening to the crunching and breathing. I bet the energy of that moment was incredible.

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile