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Hwange Elephants - "Surreal Experience"

Too Many to Count in Zimbabwe

sunny 82 °F

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If, like me, elephants are 'your thing', Somalisa Camp in the heart of Hwange National Park, is the place for you.

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I wonder if there is anywhere else on our planet where herd...after herd...after herd arrive to quence their thirst...from a swimming pool less than six feet from your sun-lounger?

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Being this close you can look straight into their beautiful eyes, pick out individual lashes

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and map every wrinkle.

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Do something they aren't sure of and out go the ears, up goes a sniffing trunk and out comes a noise so loud it resonates in your gut. It is a surreal experience.

Some days we counted in excess of 140 elephants around Camp. Perhaps you will sit on your tent's veranda in the afternoon as a herd of 27 plus walk past in single file

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quiet steps getting faster and excitement levels rising as the smell of water gets ever stronger.

Or will you sit on a sofa with cups of tea and amazing carrot cake as a couple of herds wait patiently on the facing hill for their turn? Look to your left; there's a group of young bulls waiting with varying degrees of calm. As darkness falls and temperatures plummet, sit by the campfire and absorb the all encompassing 'sound of elephant'...sniffing, sucking, belly rumbles, ear flapping and off-the-scale in velocity (and smell apparently) farts! Trunks whip back and forth and then there's the aforementioned trumpeting; a reminder that these magnificent animals are wild, untamed and unpredictable.

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Listen carefully to safety procedures. In other words; don't ask those two big boys wandering around Camp to stand still for photos or think you can creep up on them unobserved. Elephants kill people. This isn't a Disney movie; it's the Bush.

Down at the waterhole, where a pump ensures water never runs out, it's mud baths all round. Can anything beat watching elephants rolling, legs in the air, covering themselves in the thick unctuous stuff with obvious glee? Trunks act as snorkels and then gently wipe mud from their eyes.

You soon learn to pick out each herd's ruling matriach and specific individuals by the notches and holes in their ears. There are some real characters like the young (teenage) bull who was always alone and often seemed confused. We decided he must have pushed his mother one step too far and had been told to go and 'find himself'!

Babies are nurtured and guided by Mum, aunts and cousins as they attempt to clamber up the rocks surrounding the pool. Down at the waterhole they slap the water with their small trunks, flipping them around as though they really have no clue what they are there for

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....life is just a game isn't it?

Posted by haveyoubeenyet 09:05 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged elephants tents swimming_pool waterhole kwange somalisa carrot_cake hyeena

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