The windows were open. The early morning freshness was still in the air, the bush around us basked in golden light. We had parked the camper-van slightly to the left in the small dirt road. The only sounds inside the van were the bubbly voices of the kids playing on the bed close to the back window – we were just relaxing, drinking in the tranquil atmosphere.
There was a rustling sound of mopani leaves caused by oversized bodies moving around. We could not see them, but we could hear them to our left. The occasional branch snapping. Loud deep rumbles every now and again.
She suddenly appeared from the dense bush. She was like a mountain, a giant, an elephant. Her body language said: ‘I see you and I do not approve.’ She started crossing the road, right in front of us. All shapes and sizes followed: teenagers, adolescents and protective mothers with tiny babies. Too close for comfort – thankfully the whole herd was in front of us, a quick retreat in reverse gear was an option if necessary.
Movement in the mirror! A bull elephant was approaching from the back, his large trunk slightly swaying as he walked. He was in no hurry. He seemed completely relaxed. As he placed one massive foot in front of the other he became bigger…and bigger…and bigger. He seemed to tower over us, his shape filling the whole back window. He tilted his head slightly, one large eye looking through the window.
“It will be fine, just keep nice and still, he is just looking” I heard myself say. The kids were amazing. Like little statues. Not a blink. He moved on – he had lost interest.
He appeared in my side mirror. He was slowly moving along my side of the vehicle. He went past my open window. He was less than an arm’s length away. Lots of wrinkles, his thick skin still covered by patches of dirt from an earlier mud-bath.
He disappeared behind the mopani trees. The herd was gone too. Only us again.
Wow! What an amazing way to start the day…