the pace of patience

The pulse and pace at which Africa moves is hard to explain but in true sense it is an adventure that must be experienced at some point in one's life in order to say that you have experienced "African time".

I have always been honoured to meet my new guests and even more so when it is their first visit to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. From a very young age, we who live in South Africa visit our national parks and have the privilege of watching wild animals in their natural environment even if it is through binoculars. Some of our guests have never had the chance of experiencing wildlife like that at Sabi Sabi and therefore I see myself as an ambassador in exposing my guests to the pace and beauty of the wild.

elephants approach while on safari at sabi sabi

We were ready to go on a game drive and it was my guests' first. While giving my pre-game drive briefing I could feel their excitement and heartbeats racing to get out in the wild. From experience I knew that their rushing and racing heartbeats would soon be tamed and softened by the patient pace of the bush. Slowly we left the lodge following the twin tracked road snaking through the bush. We felt the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze combing through our hair, the soft deep humming of the vehicle and occasionally sniffed a sage scented air pocket. I could feel the guests relaxing and enjoying the drive. We saw a lot of birds, impala and even blue wildebeest before we found our first of the big five - and it was the biggest of the big five; the elephant.

playfull elephants

Scuffling and plucking in front of us was a herd of elephants and we could hear more than the twelve that we could see. I switched the vehicle off after positioning us in such a way that we wouldn't miss any of the elephant interaction. The young ones were physical and playful, while the mothers guided their calves with their trunks to stay close to them. Although foraging they were noticeably all moving in the same direction. I realized that Bush Lodge's waterhole was through the drainage line and across the open area in front of us. I anticipated that the herd of elephants were slowly making their way towards the waterhole. I was willing to take the gamble in driving ahead to wait for them.

Parked close to the edge of the waterhole we waited and watched with patience as we heard the elephants closing in on the open area. With ears opened and a posture that spoke of fear and a readiness for the unknown, a young bull broke the treeline walking onto the open area, soon to be followed by more mature and larger females. The brave ones out in the open lifted their trunks and sniffed the air for any sign of danger. Until today I stand in awe with what happened next. The moment the leading elephants dropped their trunks, a herd of more than thirty elephants appeared from out of the treeline. Emerging from the thickets were teenagers, mothers with calves, older cows and younger sisters bullied by their brothers trying to get to the water first. The manner in which some of the elephants hustled towards the waterhole was almost childlike, trumpeting in their enthusiasm. They reached the water and were not the slightest concerned about our presence; they were just thirsty.

elephants at waterhole while on safari at sabi sabi

We could see relationships, family bonds, leadership and levels of hierarchy between the elephants as they came to drink. We sat and observed how over thirty elephants came to drink water that day and none of us felt the need to rush anywhere but to just sit and enjoy the pace and patience of Africa.

by: jaap van dijk (bush lodge ranger)

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