Walking on the Wildside I

The start of the Kruger National Park Trip

An Elephant Tale

As usual, well for me anyhow, this mission did not simply start, ” I flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then drove to the Kruger National Park…..” Heaven forbid!

It all began a month or so before:

In October I got a phone call from Will, he asked if I would like to join him, one of his colleagues and the colleagues friend on a week long trip to the Kruger National Park. Hell yes! As is usual with Will he had a vague idea of when and where we would be going. I managed to get a date from him, but had no idea of where in the Kruger we would stay, just knew it would be a camping trip. I asked what I needed to bring. Will assured me that his friend would pack everything we needed and I just needed a sleeping bag. As the times were a bit vague I decided I would go a few days earlier and leave a few days later than the dates he had. As I am not clued up on internet bookings my friend Sonia said she would do it for me. The days I chose had no flights available so I ended up booking way ahead and behind. I would be in Gauteng for a month. That’s okay. Fish Hoek is pretty but the weather sucks.

The Rebel then said that seeing as though I was going that way why don’t we go visit a place she knows that side, Glen Afric. It is a wildlife rehab place where one can interact with African Elephant in the bush! Again, hell yes! The Rebel booked a ticket of her own. Sonia offered me a place to stay and by chance the Rebel’s lifelong best friend lived around the corner from where I would stay. The Rebel then organized a mini school reunion for the evening we would be in Gauteng together and a day trip to Glen Afric.

Sonia and I recently had hooked up on facebook, having not seen each other for 30 years! This was going to be an interesting mission. Got my ass into Gauteng and met Sonia, the girl has not changed much, was a good person then and has remained so. She immediately proceeded to spoil me rotten, and as with most women that meet me, tried her best to fatten me up, bought me vitamins as well.

The Rebel picked me up bright and early and we set off for Glen Afric. God, how I miss the bush when I am stuck with all that fynbos in the Cape. The reception area is well laid out and we had a drink on the patio. The owner’s son met us and said he would give us a private tour. We hopped onto the open landy and went to meet the elephant. There were two youngsters and a large mommy. The two keepers are very friendly and their love of the animals shows clearly – it works both ways. Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this experience. Such huge gentle animals that allow us their company. Bravely I started with one of the “little’ ones. She seemed happy enough to have me for a friend and demonstrated this by sharing her cooling down trick with me, or, perhaps she thought I had ticks! With her large toenails she dug into the hard African veldt’s surface and loosened some damp sand, she then sprayed it over her back. The next trunkfull was for me, right in the face! Elephant snot and damp sand, must say, elephant breath is a bit overpowering. Then she decided she wanted to move along and eat some small bush, I was invited to come along. She let me know by wrapping her trunk around my wrist and pulling me along with her….. such power and such gentleness. I then was told to scratch behind the big elephants ear. Okay. The Rebel took a photo and you can see that on her latest blog. Now elephant have rough, rough skin or hide, not behind the ears. It is velvety  soft! The big female gave a low rumble as I scratched her ear, amazing to be that close when they “talk”. This was the first time I have touched an elephant, have had then charge me while on foot a few times but, as you can see by the fact I am still here they stopped short, closest was less than 4m. Very scary. Here the elephant seem glad of the company and absolutely no aggression. Really, make a plan and walk with these animals, I promise it will be one of the most memorable things you will ever do in your life.

I will write a few more posts about the memorable trip to the park and the unusual people and animals I met along the way.

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