Photo Friday – Another African Experience

Africa seeps into your soul somehow.  We have been lucky enough to travel through several African countries and each one has given us a new insight into the heart of this fascinating continent. For me it is always watching the animals.  Sitting quietly observing the daily habits of wild creatures is endlessly fascinating.  Many times I have been scared out of my mind, others I have been enchanted by the antics of baby elephants, tiny lion cubs, frolicking antelopes and the hilarious little warthogs.

One day, however, is imprinted in my memory.  We were in Chobe, Botaswana and had watched literally thousands of elephants day in and day out.  This particular day we decided to observe them from the Chobe River and watch their water play.  It was with some anxiety that I stepped into a little aluminium dinghy with two outboard motors and two African crew.   They were going to show us some unusual sights deep along the river where “no one goes” they told us.  Just what we wanted – watching quietly from another vantage point.  Or so we thought.

After about twenty minutes, we stopped in the middle of the river and watched a herd of elephants coming down to drink.

ele watering

Before long a couple of big males swam towards us, using their trunks as snorkels.  It is one thing to be on land and close to this enormous creature and quite another to be in a small boat feeling very vulnerable!


Ele 01

ele watering02However, it seemed they only wanted to play and so long as we left them alone, they were happy.

The river was also full of hippos – and these animals kill more people in Africa than any other, so we are told.


By now I was feeling a little apprehensive but had faith in our two African guides.  Then the unthinkable happened. The motor in the boat stopped and the worried faces of our guides told us this was totally unexpected.  We began to drift towards the hippos….

hippo02“Don’t worry, we will fix this,” they said and they fiddled around before getting the oars out and started to row towards the little sandy beach.  Just then I saw a huge crocodile slide into the water from the opposite bank…


Really feeling a panic now, I decided the safest thing would be to get out of the boat and onto dry land and maybe someone could drive out to pick us up.  The sharp African eyes suddenly alerted us – on the seemingly deserted beach, under a shady tree, lay two lions having a snooze with one eye on us!lions hidingAt first I couldn’t see them.  Then real panic set in – we had elephants swimming and frolicking near us, a lot of hippos in the middle of the river, a huge croc on the opposite bank and two lions on the beach – and a broken down boat!

croc02When it became obvious that the Africans didn’t know what to do, and there was no phone reception, we took the matter into our own hands and looked at the fuel lines of the boat.  Fortunately years of owning boats in Australia had made us comfortable with the mechanics and the first thing Richard did was to check the fuel lines.  They were blocked! After some rudimentary repairs, we got one motor going and slowly chugged back to our point of departure.

If you go to Africa, expect the unexpected and remember “Africa is not for Sissies” !

Elephants Never Forget

A regular feature for a blog?   What a good idea.  Not only does it keep your mind on track but it should develop a routine – and I am a creature of routine!

My “Regular” will be photographic and I have a huge store of images I can draw on.  Several safaris in Africa have furnished me with hundreds of wildlife photos and I have lots of favourites.  This is the first one which I thought appropriate as “Elephants Never Forget” and hopefully I won’t forget to post on a weekly basis!

Dunia ele 01

This beautiful mother and her baby were cooling off in a waterhole in the Serengeti.  The herd had several young and they behaved like children, wallowing in the water, rolling in the dust and pulling at each other’s  tails.  This little one just wanted to stay close to Mum.

An African Story – Dream Reader Assignment Blogging 101

Are you interested in Travel and new experiences?  Then you are my Dream Reader. Perhaps my story will awaken a long suppressed desire to go to Africa – one of the joys of which is to observe animals in their native habitat.  So, please read on!

“Watch out for elephants!” we were warned on arrival at Old Mondoro Bush camp in Zambia. “They love the winter thorn and acacia tree pods and are always wandering through the camp.”     Set in a grove of Acacia trees on the banks of the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park this beautiful little camp overlooks a maze of hippo-inhabited islands and channels and provides the thrill of a genuine bush camp experience in Africa. With no electricity or hot water, the camp is a far cry from the luxury camps we had been staying at up until now. Constructed of four reed and canvas tents all with ensuite bathrooms with flush toilets, washbasins and canvas bucket showers combined with beautiful views of the river and hippo islands, this is a very special place.Old Mondoro2

On arrival we were greeted by John and Lana, a young Afrikaans couple who manage the camp – and an elephant slowly making his way through the camp in search of more pods! These huge animals, whilst they look gentle and seem to be quiet, are still wild and unpredictable and we were told to never walk from our tent to the lodge area if an elephant was wandering along the path. Over the three days we were there, we met these animals daily and became so confident, that we watched from our tent as they slowly walked by ignoring us. On one occasion, when an elephant heard the shower running in the afternoon, we were greeted by a trunk appearing over the reed wall in an effort to take some water! Eyeballing an elephant from close quarters is a very unnerving experience especially when the animal is taller than the tent! Turning the shower off did the trick; the elephant lost interest and wandered off.ele eye

Mondoro is the Shona name for “lion” and the camp is named after a legendary white lion seen during David Livingstone’s exploration of the Zambezi River. The genuinely rustic theme is carried through to all activities. Dinner is always taken by the light of paraffin lamps and candles, giving a really romantic edge to the evening. The river water gently lapping the edge of the bank and hippos honking in the distance, communicating with each other whilst hundreds of stars twinkled above instantly puts guests in a relaxed mode. This is just as well as one evening during our stay the table had been set in the open under an acacia tree. Eight of us sat down to a beautifully presented dinner and then we heard it; the soft thud of an elephant treading towards us. It is amazing how gently these huge creatures can walk. A bulky shape appeared in the dark and there he was, our uninvited guest who had decided to feast on the delicious pods hanging above us. “Get up very slowly and quietly” Lana told us “and move towards the covered area”. This we did in slow motion although the natural reaction was to rush for cover. Any sudden movement would cause the elephant to charge. Dining silently in the company of a huge male elephant who entertained us by shaking and rattling the tree to obtain pods was certainly not on the programme and presented a few heart stopping moments but is a memory which will stay with us forever.


This same elephant was nicknamed “Stinky” because he was wandering through the camp one morning and happened to step on a septic tank which broke under the weight of his foot and he fell in. The resulting odour and mess to be cleared up did not endear him to the staff but he returns time and again and appears to love human company.


Evening game drives can provide a different kind of adventure. Part of the safari culture is to have ‘sundowners’ in a unique spot followed by a drive spotting various animals. Watching the crimson sunset backdrops, often along a hippo lined riverbank or on a plain with harems of zebra or herds of buffalo staring is breath-taking. We followed bachelor herds of elephants, were amused by a family of warthogs and fascinated by the eerie cry of the hyena and the distant roar of the lion. One evening, finding a dead baboon in the bush, we concluded it had been killed in baboon combat and not by a predator. Deciding to check later, we drove on and followed the spoor of a leopard. Leopards are shy creatures and not often spotted; then we saw her, Kinky (so named because of the kink in her tail) had just made a kill, blood was on her face and she walked slowly around the stationary car and then disappeared into the bush. We waited some minutes for her to reappear and decided to move on. Unfortunately at that moment the vehicle refused to start. The battery was flat and we were unable to even radio the camp. It was dark, we were in an open vehicle, down a gully with a leopard on the prowl, lions nearby and a cantankerous mother elephant and her calf in the vicinity. This was when I felt extremely vulnerable and remembered a friend telling me “Africa is not for sissies!” Eventually we were able to make faint contact with a distant camp and forty minutes later help arrived in the form of ten Africans in a car who first tried to jump start our vehicle. Attaching the jumper leads to the wrong points did not help. Refusing to take our advice and demanding we sit in our seats, these ten men finally decided to use brute strength and manually pushed the Toyota up the hill to get it started whilst we sat in total amazement.


“Would you like to see if something has taken the dead baboon?” our guide asked us once we were back on track. We declined and decided the bar at the camp made a safer option.