Elephant sands

The time had come to begin our descent back to Cape Town – but before we set off in proper, we had just one more stop to add to our trip, Elephant Sands.

We had never heard of Elephant Sands before, and hadn’t had any intention of adding an extra stop. However, Tom had befriended a fellow camper a week before, who raved of a place where hundreds of elephants roam freely among the tents. We couldn’t resist.

Arriving at Elephant Sands mid-afternoon and checking into our pre-erected tent, it wasn’t five minutes before two elephants came trundling over to the watering hole just meters from the restaurant.

We grabbed our cameras and beers, and sat literally 3-4 meters away from the giants drinking, washing, giving us the odd going over with their intelligent eyes.

It’s so fascinating to watch elephants, they have such distinct individual personalities. One of the elephants – not the biggest at all – was a total bully, and chased off anyone trying to drink from his little patch. We were entertained by the moody so-and-so trying to chase off the others, who resorted to staging distractions in order for the others to sneak behind bully’s back and get a sip or two before he noticed, and went charging after a new target.

Water is turned off after dark at Elephant Sands, because otherwise the elephants dig up and burst the water pipes, so we had to hurry back to our tent for a solar-heated shower before the sun went down.  Only, to do so involved a 5 minute jog across the elephants’ watering hole, and new arrivals were constantly pitching up to drink.

We didn’t get flattened, and soon we were back at the restaurant, in time for a few last pictures before darkness fell.

For whatever unknown reason, the owners of Elephant Sands decided it would be unlimited free wine for everyone for the night, uh-oh. We settled in for dinner with the other 10 or so people staying, and dug into the stew and maize-meal served up.

After dinner we all sat back out in the darkness, and watched the troop of elephants who had since arrived at the watering hole, bringing their babies too. We just sat up like that under the stars, with the elephants and free wine, way too late into the night.

Getting to bed involved yet another – slightly more exciting – race across the watering hole in the pitch darkness. “Well, good luck, hope you make it!” the jolly owner and other guests giggled, as we bolted off into the dark.

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