Monday, December 5, 2011

Close encounters of the ellie kind

I have been visiting Addo Elephant National Park on a regular basis for over 13 years and at one stage went there quite often as a tourist guide.  Over the years I've had some of the most awesome sightings and experiences which is a bit hard to explain to somebody if they weren't there themselves.  About a week or so back I was in the park with an Argentinian journalist and had probably my most adrenalin pumping experience there ever.  We arrived at Hapoor water hole and found two of the park's big bulls just departing.

Driving around the corner the one walked passed in front of us while the bigger one of the two decided to stick around the road.  At one stage he passed so close to the bakkie in the picture that I actually commented that the driver probably aged a couple of years.

Moments later a herd appeared from the bush to our left which took up all our attention.  They crossed the road right behind us and as the last one passed the journalist asked if we could turn around and go back to the waterhole.  As I turned back in my seat to pull away the big bull was standing right in front of the car with his trunk draped over one tusk literally less than a meter from the car's bonnet.  There we were, eye balling the biggest land mammal in the world.  From experience I knew that we shouldn't make a sudden movement by pulling away as it may just cause him to do something that we would regret later, so we sat back in our seats to wait him out.  I did have my feet on the clutch and accelerator with the car in reverse if we had to make a quick retreat.  Unfortunately because of that I don't have any photos of this whole episode.  After a couple of minutes (could have been seconds as far as I know, but my heart was racing too fast to measure time) he just turned around and mozied off.  I have to say that although it may have been a little scary the experience was awesome.  Who needs to use drugs to be on a high if you can have natural experiences like this?


  1. I can well imagine the adrenalin rush this must have caused. I was a little girl when my parents, sister and I visited the Victoria Falls National Park for the first time in the late 50s, very early 60s. We had a similar experience and our elephant bull looked even more gigantic to me, since I was still so little myself. I remember my Dad telling us in a very soft, low voice to sit perfectly still. The elephant eventually decided we presented no threat and moved off into the bush.

  2. It can be quite scary when they are so close. We got chased by a bull elephant in a game reserve in Central Africa. My father did a brilliant job or reversing at top speed!! Diane

  3. What an awesome experience. I found it exciting and heart-pumping scary when the elephants and lions at Kruger where within 20 feet of the pickup truck. I sure hope your visitor took photos of that close encounter.

  4. Amazing experience and well handled by you by the sounds of things!

  5. Oh my!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That sounds wonderful....I know scary but still WONDERFUL!

    Fantastic photos of them in their element. (sigh) I love Ellies!