Elephant Sands

14 June 2015

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Elephant Sands has been an incredible experience and I would recommend it to ANYONE who wishes to experience the true wildlife of Southern Africa without compromising the animal’s dignity, personal space or safety.

The wonderment began yesterday afternoon, when we arrived to the camp site with water pipe built in an area very VERY highly populated with wild African Elephants!

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To explain rather more in full what Elephant Sands is, an awesome guy went out into the bush one day, saw wild elephant after wild elephant, and thought “this is fantastic. More people should see this.” And built a bar and a few cabins in the area. He also installed an underground water pipe in a dugout area, not only to keep the elephants attracted to scene but also to protect them from natural drought. To any idiot fool, it’s a dangerous area, but to anyone with a brain and respect for the animals, it’s a peaceful and awe-inspiring experience.

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The area of land is enormous ENORMOUS, so of course the elephants are not always by this camp site, but you can be sure they’ll happen by at some point. There was even a moment when I was walking from my cabin back to the bar and suddenly all I had to stop because they were passing me by. Being as wild as they are, and being as tiny as I am, they didn’t even notice me not even look at me, but I had been previously advised that in that situation one should just keep perfectly still, no eye contact, no loudness. Otherwise, they WILL notice you and… well, you’ll be dead.

So, basically, it’s an awesome wild experience.

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Last night was a bit wild in a different sort of way.

After a day of not only admiring the Elephants, but also the cost-friendly resourcefulness of the owners

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(Yes, that is Elephant poo)

Paula was pretty keen for us to get to the bar and try a favourite shot of hers that they sell here- The Springbok.

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It’s Amarula lovingly balanced atop Cream de Menthe.

Not long after, I took it upon myself to introduce Becca to gin!

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Then we decided to make friends.

A group of about 15 South African bikers have been staying here, a stop on their motorbike tour of Southern Africa, and introduced us to two South African traditions that I didn’t manage to pick up on while I was there. First, coke mixed with cheap brandy.

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Gross.

The second? Dancing a Sokie!

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GREAT fun!!

I’d like to think I was a natural, although the copious amounts of gin may have played a part.

Other highlights included an Elephant wandering into the bar area to drink the swimming pool (chlorine free), a spontaneous night drive around the reserve (rest assured, driver was sober), and an interesting, probably quite dangerous, but eventually successful walk back to the cabin in pitch blackness (lights out at 11:30… needs of the elephants first).

So, this today was fabulous. We all found each other at breakfast, confirming no one had been squashed by an elephant

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THEN, after lunch, we went on a Game Drive of the area! The cost included two drinks, so we of course selected a couple of Savannas each to bring with us.

We were given the standard introduction to the Game Drive, as my training in South Africa taught me… But one thing was different about this one, and that is the following.

“When the Elephant charges you, please remain quiet and don’t move.”

…Not if. When.

And sure enough…

I’m so grateful that Elephants are kind enough to offer a mock charge first.

In the true spirit of African health and safety, it was explained to us that the Buffalo is the most dangerous of the Big 5 owing to the fact that they DO NOT mock charge and can reach 0 – 60 KPH in no time at all… Before stopping here for our first drink

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Fantastic.

However, true to the moral code and respect to animals you would hope to expect from someone dedicate to a nature reserve, we also received very strict instruction when passing by an elephant skeleton.

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These were simple. DON’T TAKE BONES. DON’T TAKE TUSKS. This is against the law, and an act that is considered to encourage or at least verify poaching.

After what was truly a fascinating and eventful drive, we were on our way back when oh my goodness I still can’t quite believe it… We saw a leopard!

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Now, this picture, I know, is terrible. Only one person so far has managed to spot the leopard in it, and they actually had to point it out to me. Some people took truly fantastic pictures, and although we exchanged contact information, I’ve still had no luck retrieving a copy of the picture. But, I will never forget this moment, or, for that matter, Elephant Sands!

As if this experience couldn’t have been any better, this day culminated with a big, fat, steak dinner

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And then to top it all? I actually managed to get through to my Dad on the phone (after spending weeks living technology free) to wish him a happy birthday! It was so wonderful to talk to him and tell him everything I’ve seen! It’s actually left me a little home sick! He thinks Elephant Sands sounds fantastic. I wish he could be here.

And now, an early night before heading back over to Kasane in the morning to stay at the Thebi Safari. Here, I’ll be camping for real, both for the cheapness and for the experience! Excited to see how I get on…

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