Friday, December 16, 2011

How Many Elephants?

Yes, it is time to return to elephants.  This time, let's go to Zimbabwe, specifically to the Hwange National Park and let's go on safari.  Just the word, "safari" conjures up pictures in my mind of Victorian Englishmen sitting in their canvas tents being served tea while around the encampment the wildlife of Africa roam unafraid and unabated.
A pan in Hwange National Park

Ah, but my safari took place in the late 1990's aboard a jeep with three other musicians and our intrepid English host hoping to show us "his Africa".  And show us he did.  Jeffrey headed out from the opulent Hwange Safari Lodge with three wide-eyed musicians and their cameras stuffed into the back of an open jeep.  The wildlife was abundant from an enormously tall gangly giraffe with long-lashed eyes checking out those who photographed her every move to hippos rumbling like runaway tanks down a dusty road.

The Big Guys!
But where were the elephants on this safari drive?  We had seen several of these majestic animals from our hotel bathing in a pan or water hole a short distance from the deck where we enjoyed tea that morning, but I had hoped for a closer elephant encounter.  As with many things in Zimbabwe, one more turn and all Africa opened before us.

Elephants at Hwange National Park
Following a dusty path around a grove of acacia trees where giraffe lazily feasted and there we were nearly in the middle of a huge herd.  Hundreds of elephant!  Elephants of all sizes, some old, some young and yes, babies too!  Elephants everywhere trumpeting and restless with the intrusion of our little jeep loaded with four individuals who had never seen such a sight and one man, our driver Jeffry, who never tired of such an awesome sight.  Amazing! and forever seared into my memory!  In Africa in the midst of elephants!

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