Close encounter with an elephant

Day 161… Wednesday 30th August

Had a long 8 hour drive today to South Luangwa National Park.  The battery warning light came on and we decided to continue on to the campsite so the problem could be fixed there where staff have local knowledge and could advise on a mechanic/garage.  The road to Chipata was in reasonable condition.  The route was very scenic with bendy roads and fantastic views of the rural landscape.  Watermelon and tomatoes being sold at the side at the road.  Plenty of people with cycles on the road.  Cattle, goats and chickens creating the usual road hazards where you have to stop to let them cross unless you want to risk damaging the car.  This included a line of slow ducks and 4 warthogs.  Two road toll points (20 kwacha/83p).  The last 70 miles was on a bad stretch of road with the tar worn away and some very deep potholes.  The road repair team were in the process of fixing them but it would probably take several weeks. Just before arriving at ‘wildlife camp’ we drove around a bend and came across a large male elephant about 50m ahead staring us down.  He flapped his ears as if to acknowledge us and we quickly took the decision to reverse slowly back and come off the dirt track so he could pass.  It was not worth the risk of getting closer to him and trying to drive past. I don’t believe he was agitated or had any intention of charging but being that close to him was enthralling.  A few moments later he passed us at a safe distance and we continued on the track.  Our camp pitch for the night was right next to the Luangwa River with hippos, elephants, warthogs, crocodiles and baboons in sight.  My last visit was 10 years ago in the dry season so it was lovely to see water in the river and so many animals.  Fantastic views to end the day with a braai. 

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