Kruger National Park Day 12 Scary Encounter with an Elephant

10 July 2014 Olifants to Mapane Camp. Temperature at departure 4 Degrees C
It was a chilly start to the day. We woke at five, packed up and departed for Mopani just after 6 It was still dark but the light arrived suddenly and we had a few good sightings.
First up was a grey duiker disappearing into the bush. Next a pair of Sandgrouse but we missed the photo opportunity.
Then we almost knocked into a hippo who was making his way back to the river after a long night of grazing on land. He had a way to go still.
We met up with elephants at regular intervals – all lone bulls. On the S 94 We found a lone buffalo, warthogs, giraffe and tree squirrels within minutes of each other.

Lone Bull Elephant

Lone Bull Elephant



Lone buffalo

Lone buffalo



Tree Squirrels

Tree Squirrels

We arrived at Letaba at 8:30 and it was now 10 degrees C. We went to Mug and Bean for breakfast. This time was not as good as the last. Typical of M and B we have found, they did not have all the ingredients advertised on the menu. We complained and the waiter was great. He told us that the management had not got the ordering right yet. We told him we would be complaining to both Sanparks and M&B head office. If they are going to put these big franchises into the park they have to be at least as good as the last one,Tree, with whom we were always superbly impressed. M&B service is slow (it was not busy), they get the orders wrong and they don’t have what’s advertised on the menu. We overheard another patron saying to the waitress “Do I need to order the night before to get breakfast in the morning?” We sympathized!
The food is actually fine when it arrives so there is nothing wrong with the ability of the chefs – it’s the organisation that is faulty.  When Mugg & Bean first hit Cape Town, I found their coffee absolutely aweful but that at least has improved.  My coffee was hot, strong and black the way I like it and they gave it to me in the requested cup.  When I was done I was immediately offered a refill.  Mugg & Bean if you can just get your service and organisation right you might just make the grade in Kruger.
Bushbuck frequently come into Letaba Camp and we found another one just outside the restaurant.
Back on the H1-6 we had sightings of giraffe and baboon and other animals. The baboons amused us with their antics.

IMG_5440 IMG_5434 IMG_5387
We stopped at the Montambeni Hide at about 11 and found fish eagle, hippos and crocs. Buck were also on the banks but little else.

As we left we found a small herd of zebra. As we pulled away they started running. “Something’s spooked them,” said Peter. Maybe a lion. Go back Earl.”  Earl obliged, reversing slowly and checking the bush carefully.   Then – omigosh a huge  bull elephant emerged from the bush and came straight for the car.  “Go Earl, Go!” I yelled to Earl.  He pulled away slowly and the elephant was almost touching the car. Even though I was in a state of terror I took a photograph for those who found our crushed bodies to observe what had happened!

Chased by an elephant is not funny!

Being chased by an elephant is not funny!  This was taken from the front passenger seat through the back window of the Caravelle

Earl took out his cell phone and took photos through the side mirror.  We all went into panic mode and begged him to go faster.  “No, he said, “he’s far away!” The thing was that through the side mirror things look further away than they are so we yelled louder.  Earl just laughed and continued snapping photos.

Elephant in side mirror

The elephant increased his pace, flapped his ears and waved his trunk. We were in fits of nervous giggles and screaming hysterically. Earl is normally very wary of ellies but being in front gave him a feeling of power. I kept yelling – He’s flapping his ears. He’s going to charge.  Finally Earl decided that caution was the better part of valour and went a little faster and thankfully the elephant let us go.

After that adrenalin rush we all reprimanded the errant driver for his casual attitude to a dangerous, wild creature.  Only after examining his own photos days later, did he admit that he had taken a bit of a chance!   Never ever fool around when elephants are about – they can be unpredictable and are quite capable of overturning and crushing a vehicle even if it is as big as a Caravelle.

We cruised slowly along until the S62 where I saw the birds we missed this morning – double banded sandgrouse – this time there were 2 adults with a single tiny chick. We managed to get photos but the chick was hidden by the parents.

By 11 the temperature has risen to 22 degrees C. On the H1-6 we found zebra then a lilac breasted roller with a large insect. We watched it devour its prey before carrying on.

We stopped at Mooiplaas picnic site for a loo break and to enjoy the shady trees and river outlook. In this section of the park the picnic sites are unspoiled and lovely. Long may this last!

We found a brown hooded kingfisher in a tree and took some photographs.



We did the river loop and stopped to observe for a while. A pied kingfisher entertained us by catching and devouring a fish.
We arrived at Mopani at 2 o’clock, checked in a spent the rest of the day in camp.

Supper at the dinner table in our family cottage

Supper at the dinner table in our lovely Mopani family cottage


4 thoughts on “Kruger National Park Day 12 Scary Encounter with an Elephant

  1. Oh dear that Ellie would have had me in heart failure So close. Whoops Earl was brave. Lovely birds and what colour the one had. Stunning


    • Elephants have to be treated with respect, Mary. It was a scary moment but I Earl wouldn’t really take a chance – he is very wary of ellies. He would have put his foot down if he thought we were in trouble.


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