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Travel Photo Thursday: Elephants

A lone bull elephant, Mbisa, Zimbabwe

There are more than 30,000 elephants in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe so it’s not a matter of whether you’ll see a few elephants when you go game watching, but when.

We first saw this mother’s baby at the side of the road and stopped to take it’s photo when we heard the unmistakable sound of an elephant on our right. When I turned round, I noticed her ears were fully open — elephants use this technique to frighten other animals, and us. She was so close, I’m not sure how we didn’t see her first but glad I didn’t fumble the shot.

Lone Elephant, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Lone Elephant, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

We were very lucky the day we watched as a herd approached a watering hole. The baby got there first and began drinking right away, totally oblivious to our presence.

Baby elephant at a watering hole, Hwange National Park

Baby elephant at a watering hole, Hwange National Park

Soon more came and they drank, played, squirted water on their backs, rolled around in the mud and had a good ole time.

Elephants taking a mud bath, Hwange National Park

Elephants taking a mud bath, Hwange National Park

Elephants playing at a watering hole, Hwange National Park

Elephants playing at a watering hole, Hwange National Park

We were very fortunate to catch this scene — several hundred cape buffalo near our camp. As we sat quietly watching the buffalo, we saw a herd of elephants approaching. From the corner of my eye, they looked like a dark shadow but the day was clear so I began looking more intently. Then I saw them. For animals that can weigh up to 7,000 lbs., they are astonishingly quiet and nimble on their feet. Soon, about three or four herds joined buffalos, zebras and impalas at the watering hole. It was a beautiful sight.

Elephants and Cape Buffalo, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Elephants and Cape Buffalo, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

A lone bull elephant, Mbisa, Zimbabwe

A lone bull elephant, Mbisa, Zimbabwe

Towards the end of the day, we caught this elephant slowly making its way as if he’d had a hard day at work and was on his way home. I hoped that where ever ‘home’ was, it wasn’t too far away.

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website!

Three Black Girlz on Safari: Leaving Makalolo Plains

Makalolo Plains - Lunch is served

When the alarm went off on our last morning at Makalolo Plains, none of us wanted to get out of bed. The hot water bottles that had kept us warm when we snuggled under the covers the night before were no match for the cold that had now permeated our tent.

I buried my head under the covers, lifting it just long enough to peek at the clock to figure out how long I had before I had to get ready for breakfast.

It wasn’t long. Soon, we could hear footsteps on the boardwalk and Godfrey’s knock on our door.

We dressed quickly. Cynthia and Tracey were in the Main Hall and greeted us as we arrived. Following breakfast, we said tearful goodbyes while Godfrey and Emmanuel loaded our suitcases into the jeep.

Leaving Makalolo Plains

Leaving Makalolo Plains

The previous day, one of the Makalolo team had offered to fly us to the airport but we had too much luggage – 6 pieces among us – to accept. Gosh, it would have been lovely to fly back instead of being bundled up as we were. As even with the fleece ponchos and several layers of warm clothes, scarves and gloves we had on were no match for the bone chilling cold.

By the time we arrived at the Main Camp, Sandra said she couldn’t feel her face. None of us could. We were frozen. Thankfully Godfrey had brought tea and biscuits as usual which we ate while he and Reason, our new driver, loaded up our suitcases into his van.

Leaving Makalolo had been emotional but more experiences awaited us in Cape Town and Durban.

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Three Black Girlz on Safari: Zebras

Hwange zebra

Zebras fascinate me – each one’s stripe is unique.

Pretty stripes

Aren’t they beautiful?

Zebras

Lone zebra

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Three Black Girlz on Safari: Hippo!

Hwange hippo

The day before we left Makalolo Plains was bittersweet. The team had made us feel very welcome and we knew we had made friends. On top of that, we had spent many hours watching animals at close range, and that was better than the best episode of a nature program.

Towards the end of our morning drive, Godfrey spotted this hippo that appeared to sleeping at the edge of a watering hole. We were fortunate as hippos tend to spend most of their time in water to keep their skin from drying out.

Hippo!

Hwange Hippo

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