Someone had the bright idea of keeping a waterhole stocked with water and building small canvas lodges around it. There are campsites as well. As there were no fences in this part of Botswana, Elephants come from miles around to drink at the watering hole. People sit and watch the elephants come in, drink, and then leave. Our expectations weren’t high, as it was wet season. However we saw about six giant bulls come and drink in the afternoon and evening.
The eco lodge had to take some special precautions as elephants love water. They turn their water off in the evenings otherwise elephants sniff it out and break the pipes to get to it. Also, they built a small fortress fortified with iron cemented spikes and electric fences to keep the elephants out of the lodge, bathrooms, and sink areas. As the area was a wildlife area with active lions, hyenas, and wild dogs, we were instructed to mark our territory near the tent if we needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
There was plenty to look at; however, the devil’s thorns that covered the ground everywhere made quick movement difficult. The thorns would pierce the bottoms of shoes or get in our shoes, causing us to wince in pain.
Nighttime was a treat. Being miles and miles away from anywhere, it was dark enough to get a starry night. Manda, our guide told us: “Don’t stray to far from your tent at night. There are lions, hyenas, and other nocturnal animals that come out to feed. Shine your light around and don’t linger!” The sounds of night kept us interested all night. If it wasn’t the sounds of elephants drinking at the water hole, with their heavy breathing and slurping, it was Kylie saying: “I need to go the bathroom” (Four times in one night). I had to take her by flashlight not to far from the tent to mark her territory. A few times as we shone the light around we saw spring hares and impala feeding just meters from our tent.
The African Elephant is on the IUCN Redlist as vunerable but with an increasing population. Every time we saw one we felt blessed.