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Published: October 12th 2013
Elephant mum and baby
A delightful sight, near the beginning of our safari, and very close to the van. I was a bit skittish, but our guide said the mother elephants don't charge. Not quite true, in fact.
A most unforgettable adventure for us--definitely one of our top experiences this trip. "The Gathering" of elephants that happens here toward the end of the dry season each year (August-September) is listed as 6th in the top wildlife experiences in the world. (Lonely Planet?)
Our guide, with 8 years experience, was very helpful. He spotted many things we wouldn't have seen, including the larger native squirrel up a tree, a mongoose skimming across an opening, a monitor, a native hornets nest (big guys flying around it--2 cm long)...
Our guide also explained how to tell a male elephant from a female one at a distance. The female has a boxy shape, with a flat back. The male has a rounded (convex) shape to his back. (I hope I got that right. No one would hire me as a chicken sexer either.)
For the most part, it's only the males who charge the vehicles. They get riled up when their "must" is on, when they're in mating season.
However, the torn-ear mother is an exception, which the guides all knew. Her baby was killed by a vehicle several years ago and she hasn't forgotten. She
has been known to charge over 50 times (or so they say). So when we came upon her group, late in the afternoon, our driver--and the other three drivers who also were parked near her--all turned their vehicles around so the back was toward her, in case they needed to make a quick escape. But she was calm that day.
Nonetheless, as she began to stroll our way, we left.
We also found an idyllic situation up a quiet little road off the highway from where we were overnighting. Cinnamon Lodge (mentioned to us by Sunetra) is built on a serene lagoon and has huge grounds and walking trails, with lots of birds and monkeys. We enjoyed strolling around there at different times of the day.
Travel tip: After many weeks of barely palatable instant coffee, we have developed a few survival skills. One is, if ever near a 5-star hotel, go there for a genuine cuppa. You never need to be a guest to eat at their cafes and they're always glad to have more customers, especially in this off-season time.
BTW: Be sure to go to page 2 on this blog as well.
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