Sacred Combe Safari III
I had arrived in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia the previous evening, and dined with my old friends Jess and Ade at Flatdogs Camp in great happiness. The following morning, I went into the park with a guide called Byron and had a fine morning: getting my eye to the land and its beasts, getting my ear in to the sounds of this most wonderful place. I would be meeting the clients for Sacred Combe Safari III the following day and wanted to be on the top of my Luangwa form
Back from the drive I took a siesta in my tent: and from the weariness of travel and the five o’clock start that morning fell at once into deep sleep. Alas, I was half-woken several times in the course of the next hour or two: wondering grumpily why someone had chosen to scrub a bucket right outside my tent.
Flatdogs is a beautifully run operation, but it seemed they had slipped up here. Vigorous domestic tasks are best performed out of the earshot of the guests. But no: on and on it went, a pause, and then a fresh attack on that damn bucket, I would fall back to sleep, only to be woken by more frenzied scrubbing and scouring.
Eventually I admitted to myself that I was awake and opened my eyes. About 50 yards from my tent were three or four large elephants, all male – washing themselves vigorously in the water holes, throwing mud and water over their vast backs and sometimes getting right in for a good old wallow: emerging shiny as tempered chocolate: well-tempered elephants indeed. The sound of scrubbing was now explained.
They love water at all seasons, these big beasts, and as the dry seasons revs up towards its climax, they make the most of any encounter with water that comes along. Like everyone else they long for the rains and the times of plenty, when deliciousness returns to the world. But every now and then they wallow: and savour the anticipation of of a world mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.
But they show no consideration whatsoever for human would-be-sleepers.
Water hole –
how long will it take to eat
this chocolate elephant?