With Friday a couple weeks back being declared a public holiday, here in Botswana for the elections, it was a great excuse for us to go and visit our friends, Pierre and Elize, who are now managing Elephant Sands.
The lodge is situated about 50km out of Nata on the Kasane road, in an area heavily populated by elephants and the lodge’s waterhole is the only fresh water supply for miles and miles around.
Being right at the end of the dry season we weren’t disappointed by the number of elephants we saw. They kept on coming all day and night, there wasn’t a moment when there were none and at times there were up to 80 odd animals.
Battles get quite severe and on one occasion a large bull was actually knocked off his feet. Lying on his side he trumpeted loudly and swayed his big body in order to get to his feet.
It is also quite amazing how the elephants don’t use this water to spray over themselves. They obviously appreciate that this is drinking water and they can cool themselves at other waterholes where the water is too salty to drink.
One always gets nervous when you see a breeding herd arrive, the females are much smaller than the males and there were some very small calves. If the big bulls are being pushed around what will happen to these little guys.
With the big boys fighting the babies seem to just sneak in and somehow get to drink.
The matriarch of one herd led the way in, trumpeted and pushed through the bulls; had a drink then made sure her whole herd got water. The bulls just stood back and watched.
The lodge now has new safari style tents, which are very nice and we were lucky to stay in one. They are spacious, en-suite and have a balcony that one can relax on and watch the elephants come and go from.
The tent we stayed on was right next to the main path that the elephants used, so at times we were very close to some. One I could have even had touched.
One thing we have noticed over the years we have been going to Elephant Sands is that the number of trees is diminishing rapidly and now there are very few left. The elephants have damaged them or pushed almost all of them over.
Not only that, because water is in such short supply they have ripped up pipes everywhere and knocked over geyser systems. Whilst we were there the elephants pulled out the thatch from the kitchen roof and pulled the taps out so they could get to the water.
Once the pipes have been ripped out they are then used as toys by the elephants. They swing them around and hit each other with them.