The challenges of Etosha

We thought it would a quiet day today. We were wrong. We had to change accommodation from one set of huts to another so we decided to have a morning drive, come back for breakfast and then pack up and hopefully move over. Fortunately they did have the new rooms ready and so our plan worked out. Michael, Chloe and I then decided to go for a drive. The others including the Greyers decided to stay in camp and visit the waterhole.

Given the circumstances I might have been tempted into letting Michael drive, if it was legal. About 15 kms from camp a guy stopped us and said that there was a very aggressive elephant about 1km down the road. I thought how aggressive could it be and so we continued. We approached slowly and were making good progress when it turned and flapped and started charging. Michael might have done extremely well to get the car into reverse and start backing up quickly (if of course he was driving). And he would have needed to reverse for at least 300 to 400 meters before said elephant stopped charging. In the reversing there might have been a bend that was slightly missed and so one thorn bush less now in Etosha. And assuming Michael was driving that might have been the right time for a more skillful driver to take charge again.And the best way to change drivers might be for Michael to simply vault over the gear lever and for me to run around the car into the drivers seat. The changeover would have been competed in about 2 seconds.

We still needed to get past the grumpy elephant though. While I was edging closer (Michael later explained over the braai tonight that it was like we were playing a game of K I N G spells king) another car came from the other direction. We tried to warn them to go back but they ignored us and the elephant promptly charged at them. That gave us a little space to creep up some more on it. It kept turning back to have a look where we were though. Eventually it went far enough in and had its back to us still while watching the other car that I could gun it past. The elephant immediately started charging us at full speed. And I kept accelerating. Only problem was that the other car realized he had a big problem as he was facing the wrong way and he had an elephant charging at him.  He had the best 2 point turn in the bush I have ever seen (including also taking out a bush or two) and by the time I was level with him he was also ready to accelerate after me. I clocked 80 km/h while getting around Mr Grumpy. Mr Grumpy followed us for at least 200-300 meters.  Our adrenalin was pumping. I needed a Coke and Michael kindly passed it to me and he couldn’t keep his hand from shaking. Michael and Chloe then needed to defuel about a km down the road as well. The encounter legends are made of. After all that who really cares about the rest of the drive or day for that matter?

The rest of the drive and day was sedate and pleasant. In the late afternoon we visited the waterhole and watched the sunset and we saw mother and baby rhino come down to drink. The waterhole never fails me. Every time I have been there it has had something to offer and usually one of the big five. We also went after supper and we saw a small matriarchal herd of elephant wth a baby drinking (or should I rather say slurping).

The other highlight was the braai. After making the fire we tried to put the grid on (it was a chimney type of braai place) only to discover that the braai grid didn’t fit probably because of the expansion due to the heat. But in discovering this we got the grid stuck in half way. And in the effort to get the grid out, I tried to pull the grid out with the tongs and they got stuck into the grid. It was a comedy of errors. Mrs Greyer was helping and summed it up by saying if she we’re a marshmallow she would have been toasted brown by that stage. If the fire wasn’t so hot it might have been slightly less inconvenient getting the tongs stuck. And to make matters worse it was the only set of tongs amongst the utensils from all 4 huts we had between us. Stephen kindly posted a Facebook photo of the incident!

So that was our day. Hope yours wasn’t as exciting. Until tomorrow.

P, M (gets promoted for his driving skills), C (because she was with us), H and S.

Ps: if you read something today or yesterday that doesn’t make sense it wasn’t because I was drunk or suffering the effects of an insect bite on my groin (first didn’t happen but second did), it is because I am typing and posting this on my iPad and the predictive text has a mind of its own!

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