Thursday, 1 March 2012

Savuti (3)

Saturday, 25th February 2012

The writer, the couple from Holland and our guide Lets took a simple breakfast before setting off a little after 6.00 a.m. for what would be my last Game Drive at Savuti.

We soon came upon Giraffe, already browsing amongst the trees, and Elephants, munching grass. This time, there seemed to be large numbers of elephant and they didn't appear worried by our presence, despite the herd having a number of young.

"...they didn't appear worried by our presence, despite the herd including a number of young."

The herd was moving, in an unhurried way, towards the water so Lets drove to a position where we could watch the elephants as they arrived at the water's edge. After a while, the elephants started to emerge from the trees and assemble on the river margin. They'd chosen to do this at the exact spot where there were a number of hippopotamus almost submerged in the water. The two species watched each other in silence for some time and I wondered what would happen next.

Elephants and Hippopotamus watching each other in silence.

After a while, the Hippopotamus slowly turned away and moved further along the Channel, where they re-grouped and continued to study the elephants from their customary, mainly submerged, positions. The elephants started to cross the river in single-file adopting their normal, stately gait.

Elephants starting to cross the river, watched by Hippopotamus.

Once the initial group of elephants emerged from the water, more started to cross, the smaller ones barely visible above the water. As they crossed, other elephants emerged from the trees and gathered at the water's edge.

More elephants cross the river.

Elephants need vast amounts of water to avoid dehydration. Some of the elephants paused to take on water before crossing the river. Elephants can suck up a few litres of water at a time with the trunk which is then discharged into the mouth.

A young elephant taking on water before crossing the river.

I never managed a proper count of the elephants but there must have been a couple of dozen. I was sorry when we left our riverbank location and this marvellous elephant experience to continue our game drive.

As we drove, we saw numerous birds like the Ground Hornbill and the Woodland Kingfisher. We had the inevitable sighting of a group of Impala before stopping at one of the many Pans for morning tea. Pans are waterholes created by generations of elephants, digging with their feet to create holes which fill with rainwater. Over a long period of time, these excavations can grow into large, often round, pools which can hold rainwater for some time before evaporation eventually dries them out.

We stopped at this typical Pan for morning tea.

When we arrived, there were a number of birds around the litchen-covered water of the pan but I almost missed a single hippopotamus, almost totally submerged. Once the hippo came up for air, there was no mistaking his huge bulk before he re-submerged. Following refreshments, it just remained for us to complete our journey back to the Camp, in good time for Brunch after which I readied myself for transfer to my next Safari Camp.

I'd booked to go to Savuti-Under-Canvas next but, on my arrival at Savuti, the camp management had informed me that the airstrip at Savuti-Under-Canvas was flooded and temporarily out of use. Rather than face a four hour journey by road to reach Savuti-Under-Canvas, they had made arrangements for me to visit King's Pool instead. King's Pool, they pointed out, was a Premier (rather than a Classic) Safari Camp and the change thus represented an upgrade, at no cost to me. So I readied myself for the trip to King's Pool, which I'll tell you about next time.

Pictures of Savuti Safari Camp are here.

Pictures of the final Game Drive at Savuti are here.