12 March, Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape
Our chalet here over looks a scrubby valley with a waterhole at one end. Kudus wander in and out of view and little Duiker deer graze cautiously in the thickets just the other side of the elephant-proof fence that is just 2 metres from our balcony. Just a great place to spend the late afternoon after a tough day on safari.
We had a rather frustrating morning searching for some of the 500 elephants that call Addo home. We did spot a few Kudus and several smaller beasties including a black-backed jackal, but no elephant and NO lion. In the early afternoon though, we came across a large herd of elephants grazing along one of the dirt tracks. This was a real 'close encounter'. Elephants 5 times the weight of our car ambled past, a mere arm's distance from our window. But once the juveniles started “elephanting” about near our car, pushing and shoving and generally playing argy-bargy, we slipped into reverse and headed off the other way.
Several hours later, we had done full circle and returned to the other side of the track to where the herd had been. We had assumed that they would have moved on and we could get past their 'road block'. But no. As we came close to where we had encountered them before, a large bull elephant blocked our path. Just 20 metres away, he decided to stand his ground. Ears flapped, not a good sign we had been told, head shook from side to side – even worse – then the stamping of the front foot – worst of all!
We now have the greatest respect for wild elephants in open spaces, and lucky its washing day tomorrow!