As the sun began to rise, casting a warm, golden glow over the bush, Joy and I, accompanied by our eager guests, embarked on our morning game drive. Our mission for the drive was straightforward: to find the Ntsevu Pride and their nearly 10-month-old cubs in the eastern reaches of the reserve. Little did we know that a herd of elephants would turn this into an unexpected and remarkable morning.
While driving through the rolling hills in the southeastern part of the reserve, we saw some beautiful animals both big and small. We encountered a dazzle of zebras drinking water, their black and white stripes presenting a pristine reflection on the glasslike water. We also saw giraffes, tall and elegant, fighting with their long necks twisted together to show dominance.
The clearings were full of impalas, dancing gracefully in herds as they woke up to the cool morning air. We watched many of the males chasing the herds of females around to ensure they were accounted for and didn’t drift away towards other males’ domains.
But it was the humble dung beetle that stole the show. With the warming weather, these industrious little creatures have emerged in droves. A massive ball of elephant dung rolled down the road ahead of us, a testament to nature’s intricate balance. We took a closer look and noticed two dung beetles on the ball. One doing all the hard work rolling the ball along the road and the other just holding on for dear life.
After enjoying the show from the dancing dung beetles, we followed the telltale signs of fresh dung along the road, and it became evident that we were closing in on a magnificent encounter. The heart-pounding anticipation was palpable. We ventured further, rounding a bend, and there they were—thirty or more elephants, silently grazing in their natural habitat.
Their direction was clear. Slowly but steadily, they made their way towards a large watering hole. With an eager smile, I turned to my guests and told them,
“These elephants are heading directly towards a waterhole, for a drink!”
Guiding the Land Rover to the far side of the waterhole, positioned with the sun beautifully at our backs, we readied our camera lenses and iPhones, poised to capture the mesmerising spectacle that awaited us.
The elephants approached the waterhole with great determination. From cute little babies to subadult males, all the way to the older and wiser females, they queued up patiently for their turn to drink. The rhythmic sounds of sipping and splashing filled the air, as they drank and enjoyed themselves in the water.
As the day continued to warm up, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy. I watched with delight as these gentle giants had a good time in the cool waters, a privilege of nature that left my guests and me in awe.
Time spent with Elephants is certainly never time wasted at all!
I love spending time with elephants in the bush because they are incredibly entertaining, and sincere and have a huge presence. Just being around them can be breathtaking. They remind me of the rawness of the wild, and I’m grateful for the unique connection we share with these gentle giants.
Though we may not have found the Ntsevu Pride on this particular morning, such a sighting of elephants always brings an enormous smile to my face. It’s a testament to the unpredictable beauty of a game drive at Londolozi.