We hadn’t planned on staying over at Tuckers camp, let alone enjoy a day watching elephants up close.
I’d always wanted to spend a day overlooking a waterhole and now I had my chance. Instead of driving over into Hwange we stayed in camp.
There are two opportunities to observe the wildlife. One from the observation platform with a gorgeous view. You can see the waterhole and various approaches to it. Then there’s the hide which is much closer to the waterhole. Right in front of the hide there are salt licks for the elephant. Apparently this helps the elephants get enough minerals in their diet during the dry winter months.
For us it of course brought the elephants amazingly close (Watch the breathtaking video below.)
Our first night in camp we hurried over to the hide at dusk. Not forgetting to apply mosquito repellent of course to keep those malaria carriers at bay.
As it got dark the elephants came. One, then two, and at last count twelve big and small elephants right there before us under the lights.
It was quite the experience watching them vacuum up the salt and dust. Not sure how they sort it out and how they keep from sucking dust into their lungs? Their they stayed, trunks busily at work, at times changing places but ever vacuuming.
Little did we know that the next day we would have an even more breathtaking experience.
Throughout the day we went from hide to platform watching the animals and birds come and go. A lone cape vulture looked out of place in a tree. Head hanging low. It didn’t look quite right. Sure enough. The next day he glided down next to the waterhole. Didn’t drink just sat there hunched over. Finally he was laying down and within hours his remains were gone!
We watched a very skittish side striped jackal nervously come in and finally keep his head down long enough to get a drink. He was gone as quickly as he’d come.
A buffalo herd came in, as did zebra and a foursome of majestic kudu bulls. What a thrill to watch, to observe. Each group ever vigilant. A ranger told us both cheetah and lion have come to drink at this waterhole. Sadly, we saw neither.. but in the late afternoon the elephants came.
We hurried down to the hide just before most of the herd moved close to get their licks in at the salt holes.
It’s difficult to describe the grandeur of the approach (watch it in the video below.) All the babies are kept close as the herd moves almost in unison. They get closer and closer, walking straight towards me. I hold my ground at the edge of the hide. My view is both exhilarating and a bit unnerving. I’m almost within arms reach of these huge beasts. I hear their breath, can see the pupils of their eyes and almost feel their tummy rumbles (used for communication.)
Did you know that elephants have ‘finger prints’ on their round feet? Did you know that the end of an elephants trunk can act much like our fingers?
Watching the big and the small close up… especially the babies floppy trunks is magical. As my words can’t begin to do the scene justice… go watch the video below and enjoy elephants up close and personal.
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