The Elusive Desert Elephants

My alarm went off at 4:50am.  Time to get up and look for the elusive desert elephants.  Our guide Charles is a confident young guy and seems convinced we will find a herd.  The elephants can travel 30-40 miles a day and just because they have been send the day before there’s no guarantee they will be there in the morning.  I take the back row of seats in the truck; not my best decision as I found out to my pain later in the day but for now it is fun.  It’s a bit like riding a mechanical bull and as we go over bumps I get sent ejected out of my seat.

Our drive takes us out of camp and into a wide desert valley and with the sun rising behind us the view is spectacular with everything bathed in the red orange light.  I see my first real wildlife, a couple of Oryx.  They are beautiful and shy; I hope I got some good pictures given how far away they are.

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The broad, harsh, and beautiful arid valleys conceal occasional river beds.  These are sunken strips of greenery containing mostly brackish water but nonetheless much more attractive to most wildlife than the plains and valleys.  Charles continues to keep an eye out for fresh elephant dung and follows tracks taking the truck up and down paths I would have said were impassible.  I see there is a big difference between what I’m used to and driving in the wilds of Namibia!

Still no elephant but I am enthralled by the scenery.  It is simply stunning; the wide open expanse of nothing, punctuated with distant mountains.  Some of the valleys are covered in rock fields.  This is a wild phenomenon where rocks are exposed from the underlying beds and then weathered into rounded shapes.  As an ex-geologist this is exciting, never mind finding elephants.  After 6 hours of looking for and not finding elephants we call it a day and head back to the lodge for lunch.

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Charles agrees to drive us to our next stop at Desert Rhino Camp.  It is a 15-30 min flight or a 3-4 drive – we decide to take the drive!  As we head north the sun is dropping and Charles not quite knowing the exact way determines we are going to have to pick up the pace.  My ride on the mechanical bull, aka the back seat, morphs into the ride from hell.  We hit each bump at full force catapulting me higher and higher until I smash my head on the bars above my seat and scream at Charles that I’ve had it and am changing seats now!  I think that is the only time I lost my rag on the trip and as we pull into camp I’m still in a pissy mood.  A couple of beers later and all is well.

We get our briefing for our Rhino tracking trip in the morning.  The Black Rhino is extremely rare and we will be lucky to see one.  If we happen to find one, we will get 5-15 minutes with it and will get no closer than 100-150 meters away.  With this news, I can tell we feel a bit gipped, coming all this way to be lucky to see a Rhino as a spec on the horizon.  The reasons make sense and we’ll see what we find the next day.

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2 thoughts

  1. I have tears in my eyes looking at the landscape and reading your entry. Spellbound by the landscape and colors. Can’t wait for more.

  2. That is absolutely gorgeous, Andy. Hope your tail bone is ok. The scenery is stunning, regardless of anything on four legs appearing or not.

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