This is my eighteenth (R) entry for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.
We had slowed to barely a crawl, Milton making sure to keep his distance for safety. Not ours, but the giraffe’s. At worst, Milton might have been pooped on. But he didn’t want to scare the giraffe too much so we kept the jeep a safe distance away.
When Mr Long Legs finally decided to leave the road, we inched past him for a few more photos and one last look, and then hurried on down the road to the picnic stop by the river we were supposed to have some drinks at. Ultimately, those plans were delayed.Off in the distance, on some hills to our left, I noticed some elephants and shouted up to Milton as he drove. I was sitting in the back row again, as it was my turn. The jeep we were in had a roof, which was excellent when it rained and for keeping the sun off, but at times, like about 10 minutes from the very moment I yelled at Milton, it could be a hindrance.
After he spotted them he called back, “I know where they’re going.”
He picked up the pace a bit and we curled past the picnic site where were supposed to stop. We hugged the edge of the river until we came to a slope. Probably not made for cars or jeeps, we would use it anyway. Milton drove down, the pathway barely wider than the jeep. He couldn’t turn us sideways so we sat face on, looking down towards the river. He was explaining about the plan for the rest of the evening, when the first grey mass came bursting through the trees and towards the water below us. One became two, two became three, and so on and so on until there were about 20 elephants of all sizes taking a drink.When the first one waded into the river, I thought he would just find a spot and sit down, coating himself with cool liquid before going back into the sun again. But he kept going, fording the entire river, and soon he was joined by all of the other elephants, young and old. Milton reckons a couple of the younger ones might have been crossing a river for the first time. First time or twentieth time, this was something I was never going to forget. I strained for a better view from my seat in the back, cursing the roof above me that kept in my place and limited my chances for an aerial view. Still, I could not let that little disappointment ruin a truly amazing experience.
a After snapping off a few dozen photos, I remembered that my camera had a video mode, switched it over quickly, and held it above my head and over everyone else as steadily as I could. It turns out, I’m not very steady, but again, that isn’t going to stop me from enjoying this video over and over again.
I hope you enjoy it too. A friend of mine, the most creative person I have ever met and South African resident, dubbed in the music to mask out most of me shouting how awesome this was. I think he did us all a favour.
When they were all across and heading into the trees on the other side, we all caught our breath before Milton reversed up the hill and towards our picnic spot. We would later see more rhinos than I ever thought imaginable, but this day in Hluhluwe will always be about those elephants.