"These are elephants"

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Sep 19, 2010

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Apparently I didn’t hear the wake up call and slept in a little so had to scoff down brekkie before we left at 7:00. Didn't take too long to get to Bulawayo for snacks (pies of course) and something that would never happen in Australia – asked one of the staff if there was a toilet nearby and the next thing I’m being taken through the storeroom to use the staff toilet lol. Asked at a few places about getting an international dialling card to call back home to get things under way with the NRMA but didn’t have any luck. Fell asleep fairly quickly back on the truck.

Next stop for two nights was Ivory Lodge, which adjoins Hwange National Park. We arrived before lunch so we had plenty of time to relax and watch some animals coming to the waterhole for a drink. Its feed by a pump to ensure there is water there year-round and a pretty good spot to relax in one of the comfy chairs and watch various animals come for a drink The waterhole has floodlights for night time viewing too. Over the time we were there saw elephants, baboons, eland, impala, kudu, giraffe and warthog come on down.

As usual the game drive started at 3pm. The Painted Dog Conservancy centre was our first stop but after looking through the exhibit it was then too late to see the dogs so back to the game drive. Though shouldn’t the driver have known it was too late in the day to see the dogs? The driver, Peter, was a bit different. No faster than 40 km/hr on the sealed roads. Steering wheel of his car was a mess, had to hold it turned half way around to go straight. Drove for 10 mins out along a sealed road then turned around and drove back, the only action was being overtaken by a bus full of pensioners, which them stopped to pick someone up as we passed them, then they overtook us again.

We eventually did leave the sealed road and go into the reserve but didn’t see anything for some time until we came across a group of elephants near the edge of the vlei, ripping apart some trees. He stops, turns around, and announces with a big smile: "These are elephants". No shit Sherlock, I would never have guessed. Sitting in the back with Sally & Lauren, I did my best not to fall out laughing.

But the elephants were pretty amazing – they were slowly making their way across the track when one walked directly up to the Cruiser and checked us out – close look at Kenny and Sally, sniffed Kenny’s arm and touched Sally’s hand, checking the integrity of the bullbar and bonnet before walking off. This was a wild elephant, not a tame one. We were all a bit surprised by that then soon another came over but she chucked a wobbly and trumpeted loudly before running off.

From here we cruised down a vlei, which is where a river used to run and is now underground and there is grassland that can get a bit swampy in its place, and came across a huge herd of buffalo, hundreds of them. Of course there were some impala around, and this was the first time I saw black backed jackals. There were also a few baboon troops hanging around enjoying the late afternoon sun and some warthogs.

When we got back to the Lodge we just missed the elephants that had been at the waterhole for a drink, apparently coming right up to the hide to say hello the Zimbabwean couple sitting there. Gift was a lot more subdued after his efforts of the previous night lol. Spent the night sitting around the campfire and also spending a bit of time down at the hide watching elephants and giraffes wandering around although none of those came up close to the hide. The owner of the lodge was a funny old guy, full of a lot of bad jokes that Dad would use.
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Travis R on

When Simba and I did our 1 day safari at Arusha National Park, our guide drove up to a pile by the side of the rode, stopped the Land Rover, shut it off, and proudly announced "Elephant shit!" He had this proud look on his face like this was some amazing geological find. Or, maybe he was proud of it because it came from his pet elephant. I don't know. Nonetheless, he did this 4 or 5 times (although he didn't turn the engine off on subsequent stops). I think he wanted us to take a picture of it, but I didn't. At this point, we had gone almost all day without seeing an elephant. Fortunately, we did see 4 of them about 15 minutes later. I guess his expert elephant shit tracking skills worked out for us.

matt_werner on

At the previous National Park the guide was supposedly trying to track down a rhino for us to stalk on foot. A few times he got out and poked his finger in some poop and said "From this morning" to which my reply was "TOO OLD!". The girls had already seen my Pedobear shirt and had a laugh as well

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