Back to the Bush
We’ve been plagued by electrical issues at Bateleur over the last couple of weeks, so on Sunday I drove through to Hoedspruit to get to the bottom of it. We rely heavily on our camera system as it give us insight into the daily happenings – and since our handyman is on leave, someone had to go. I was ecstatic! An excuse to be in the Bush again.
Since Zaza and Teens 1 through 3 are homeschooling and hubby is working from home, I made the trip alone. I could barely contain my excitement. The huge open expanses always remind me of how vast South Africa is and I find the five hour drive very soothing. There is a hair-raising section between Dullstroom and Lydenburg where you have to play “dodge the pothole (or crater!)” but after that it is all tranquil farmland, mountains and rural villages. Truly lovely.
At the crack of dawn on Wednesday, before my alarm even sounded, I woke up. I followed a route up along the fence road watching the sun rise. It was quiet and peaceful along the fence road, and just being out and watching the sunrise is good for the soul.
My plan was to visit one of the dams. On my previous visit I had seen knob-billed ducks on the water and I was hoping for another glimpse. I turned up the road and found a tree blocking it. Elephant landscaping in action.
I had seen the elephant dung all the way up the road and it was still glistening and moist, so I knew they were not far off.
Ok, so much for that! After making about a seven point turn on the very narrow road, I headed up to the next dam. Segments of the road have eroded from all the recent rain, so I took a side road. More elephant dung.
By now the sun was up and the golden light of the morning softly sparkled on the grass and the leaves.
The two-track path was narrow. Overgrown acacia thorn branches battered the side of the Landy. A drongo distracted me and flew off before I could take a photo and then when I least expected it, just around the next bend, I came face to face with an elephant.
We were both a bit startled to say the least! The situation called for a split-second decision. Reverse and flee, or brazen it out and just pray that the elephant wasn’t in musth. We stared at each other. He was gigantic and intimidating. The Landy had cut off his path completely. His reaction could be a direct threat to my safety! I held my breath. The pachyderm decided to be gracious and moved off into the bushes on the side to munch the foliage.
I exhaled. I slowly opened my window and watched him in awe. He was so close, that, had I reached out my hand, I could have touched him! The early morning light shone on his back and the Landy cast shadows on him. He exuded calm and serenity. Relief washed over me.
Once he had eaten his fill he ambled off, down the road. I thought I’d head to the dam, but since there was another blocked path ahead, I followed in the wake of the elephant.
I’d accepted that by the time I’d turned, he would have disappeared, but I was lucky enough to get another glimpse. Even an enormous elephant vanishes as if by magic when the grass is overgrown and the trees are densely packed and flourishing.
Note: Elephants can be extremely dangerous especially when they are in musth. Musth occurs due to surges in an elephant bull’s testosterone levels and the increased testosterone can make him more aggressive than usual. It is very obvious when they are in musth – and it should be taken as a warning to keep far away. All elephants should be treated with the hugest respect and given enough space to go about their daily activities without feeling threatened.
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