Leg 2 Day 7 – Nambwa camp: many, many elephants!

Our campsite at Nambwa is stunning – it’s right by a lagoon filled with lily pads, and even has it’s own little deck to sit on and watch the surrounding wildlife (of which there turned out to be plenty!). We made good use of the deck and drank the last of our inveroche gin (thanks Aunty Steph!) while the sun set and our braai fire smouldered away. As Ian has already mentioned there are a ridiculous number and variety of birds here, and we watched bee eaters, kingfishers and jacanas swooping over the water, while warthogs snuffled around in the undergrowth.

We were woken in the middle of the night by loud splashing and gurgling in the lagoon right by us which could only have been a hippo, but unfortunately our brand new spot light seems to have given up the ghost and our head torches weren’t up to the task of illuminating the water so we don’t know for sure.

We watched the sunrise over the little lagoon from our tent then headed out to the horseshoe lagoon, an oxbow lake famous for sightings of large herds of elephants. There’s a viewing platform over the lagoon so we decided to sit here for a little bit, read our books and see if anything interesting occurred. We were not disappointed! At first things were fairly quiet, with three sable coming to drink and a hippo making noises somewhere in the reeds. We then heard some splashing and looked up to see a huge herd of elephants coming down for a drink further round the oxbow lake. They were mostly obscured by a tree from the viewing platform, so we climbed down to watch them from beside our car. We counted over 70 elephants, of all different sizes, and it was really special to watch them playing in the water and interacting with each other. 

They eventually headed off into the bushes, and we remarked on how lucky we’d been to see such a sight. We were just taking stock of what had happened and beginning to think about what to do next when we noticed more elephants coming right towards us from behind the bushes, and beat a hasty retreat up to the viewing platform. We were amazed to see an even larger herd of well over 150 elephants come down to the lake to drink! We watched in awe as they splashed away and took far too many photos. It was truly incredible to see so many elephants, ranging from some very tiny newborns to grand old matriarchs, all in one place.

The elephants eventually moved on, and we ate a picnic lunch on the observation platform, still in awe of what we’d seen. Amazingly another herd of about 40 elephants came down for a drink while we were eating lunch – we must have seen over 300 elephants here, and not a single other human, in the space of a couple of hours!

Elephants in the water at the Horseshoe – sorry about the lack of sound, iMovie doesn’t like the format that one of our cameras records videos in.

After a bit more of a drive around the park we headed back to our campsite for a relaxing afternoon. I was just settling in to my book when Ian pointed out there was a small herd of elephants coming right through our camp, including one tiny baby! We stood still as they wandered through, apparently entirely unbothered by our presence. There’s a marula tree in the campsite pitch next to ours which I think they’d been feasting on before we spotted them. Today has definitely been the day of the elephants!

Having had such an amazing time at the horseshoe lagoon earlier in the day we decided to head there again at sunset for some sundowners (the lake is only about a 20 minute drive from our camp). When we arrived there was a group of 12 elephants further round the oxbow where we’d seen the large herds earlier in the day, but as soon as we’d settled in they moved round to right in front of the observation platform. We spent a wonderful 45 minutes watching them playing in the water as we drank our beers. They were much more playful than the elephants we’d seen earlier in the day, and there was a fair amount of rough and tumble going on in the water. There was also a really tiny baby, which suckled from its mother right in front of us. An incredible end to a pretty incredible day!

Evening Elephants at the Horseshoe

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