I get out of my home for the last couple of days in Shingwedzi to go and explore the more southerly parts of the park. But I want to go a couple of small roads in the north first because they apparently should have a lot of wildlife. The day starts with the usual impalas but there is not much else.
So I am not too impressed by the wildlife. But in a little while a group of giraffes show up those tall animals is always nice to watch for a while so I stop and observe while the giraffes take a few bite of the top of the trees. Once again I am amazed of how easy a big animal like a giraffe can hide in the vegetation. You would think it was easy to spot but even though I am only about 10-15 meters away from one of the giraffes I can only know and again see the head of it. I say goodbye to my giraffes and continue down the narrow dirt road to see if something interesting shows up in the horizon.
And right there on the road about 30-40 meters ahead is a big bull elephant. I break and start searching for my camera to get ready to take a few photos of the magnificent animal. As I am searching for my camera I get ready to move the car a bit closer to the elephant – after all 30 meters is a bit of a distance and I would have to go to full zoom on my camera to make the elephant look at least decent size. As I am still preparing to take a photo the elephant flaps its ears and starts to walk slowly towards me.
I don’t like the elephants gesturing – it doesn’t look like a friendly elephant – it looks more like an elephant which think I am too close. I figure I should move the car back just a wee bit. I put the car in reverse to back up a few meters. My backing the car doesn’t make the elephant happy instead of stopping it speed of and now it is running towards me. I had no idea an elephant could move at this pace. I figure it is time to just put the pedal to the metal and see what this car can do in reverse.
I sort of realize there is something missing in my general driving skills. I live in the city and have never owned a car – hence driving is not something I do on a regular basis only when I rent a car to go on some sort of extended trip. And for some reason the ability to drive a car at high speed in reverse on a dirt road while being chased by wild animals is not part of the curriculum you have to go through to get a drivers license in Denmark.
Hence my general abilities in backing a car is somewhat limited – it is generally something I do when I need to get in or out of a parking space – and doing that is at a slow pace below walking speed of course. It is fair to say my knowledge of backing cars on a road is limited – doing it on a dirt road at high speed is none existent. Luckily it turns out I am a really quick learner.
I go down the road at high speed fortunately the road is pretty straight so I don’t have to navigate some sharp corners in the process. I go on for what seems a long time and then I take a quick glance to see if the elephant is still chasing me. The elephant is still there – and it does not seem ready to slow down – it keeps going at a remarkable speed. Hence I keep going down the road up a hill – down a hill – and up another hill. By the way I send my apologies to all my blogging friends – I forgot to take photos of this incidence – I know I should have – after all I was only having my right hand on the steering wheel while my left where relaxing on the passenger seat of the car. Hence I could easily have been taking lots of photos with the left hand.
I continue my reversing up one more hill – and then I take another look to see if the elephant is still there. It is not it gave up somewhere between the first and second hill. Now I can relax and try to figure out what to do next. I sort of have a problem – I got two options – I can turn the car and continue about 20ks back on the road I came from – or I can go ahead for about five miles to get to the point I wanna get to. Only little thing with the last solution is I kind of figure I might run into an elephant on the road ahead.
I figure the best way to proceed is to turn the car and back up the hill and take a look around and figure out what the situation is like on the other side of the hill. I guess with the car turned that way it should be fairly easy to out run an elephant – just in case. I go up the hill and yeah there is an elephant – a huge bull elephant right at the side of the road chewing on a tree. Probably not a good idea to go that way. I wait a little bit debating the situation. Then the elephant seems to take a few steps away from the road and out to the side of the road – situation is improving but not quite stable. A car comes by with a couple of South Africans in it – I figure I should tell them about the situation so they don’t go down the road and start taking pictures.
They decide to proceed and they drive slowly by the elephant. I figure that went well. But I still hesitate a bit about going – then the elephant takes a few more steps further away from the road and it is chewing on a new tree. I turn the car around and start going down the road – just as I am right in front of the elephant it stops chewing on its tree and stars at me. I figure this is a good time to speed up and drive away and I get away pretty quickly.
I drive down the road and there is no more animals chasing me for the moment. Then I run into some more elephants. A nice big herd of females with their young ones are standing on both sides of the road – and on the middle of the road. They are quite friendly – though I might have developed some sort of elephant phobia by now because I am looking for escape routes – just in case. In the end I don’t need an escape route and after a while the elephants clear the road and I drive on.
I get back to the main road in Kruger and drive down it for a little while – and I guess this is the big morning of elephants – because next to the road is three big bull elephants drinking from a big tank. I guess this is worth looking at for a bit. So I stop and after a while the elephants give up on the water tank and go to a small artificial pond to drink. Looking at the elephants splashing water around is good fun and after drinking the daily required amount of 70 liters of water per elephant it is time for a dirt bath. The elephant snort the dirt up the trunk and blow it out over its back several times creating a minor dust storm. All the dust makes me hungry and I figure I should go away and find a spot for lunch.