Tuskers Bush Camp in Botswana is a classic tented safari camp, deep in acacia scrub and Mopane woodland, where elephants in Botswana roam freely.
In front of the main dining tent, boma and bar, is a waterhole, where breeding herds of elephants, as well as mature bull elephants, come and go throughout the day and night.
These lovable pachyderms linger to greet one another, to swim and play, or move in to simply slake their thirst then amble away. I appreciate having time to watch this intimate behaviour and interaction from the comfort of Tuskers Bush Camp chairs.
Mothers and aunties are most solicitous of these infants, watching them and guiding them with their skilled trunks, taking care to shield the babies from other animals that visit the waterhole. A mother – or the apparent matriarch of the group – trumpets loudly, when she considers the youngsters to be in any kind of danger.
Lingering as near to the breeding herds as they are allowed, elephant bulls try to ease closer to the females. Some have impressive tusks. One is clearly in musth, as he is highly irritable and aggressive, driven by testosterone up to six times his usual level, I am told.
His temporal glands secrete a sticky fluid, which he rubs with his trunk, then up against a tree, perhaps to spread his scent? His penis constantly dribbles urine, becoming a greenish
These cows emit loud, sub-sonic calls to attract the desirable musth bulls, who are in peak condition to sire their offspring.
As this Kwatale Conservancy, a private concession area of 365000 hectares, is open to unfenced Moremi, animals have freedom of movement. It is possible to see lion, cheetah or leopard, as well as wild dogs, on the game drives or even at this Tuskers Bush Camp waterhole.
As I stroll around the camp precincts, I see that the Purple-pod Terminalia trees are laden with their cabernet
In the dining
Firstly, we visit what has been dubbed The Elephant Graveyard, which is
I feel tender and respectful towards those elephants in Botswana. As a biologist, I am also fascinated to see the details of the huge bones, so take some time to photograph these. Thankfully, hunting is forbidden in this area now and the elephant population is healthy and growing.
From the vantage point of an open game vehicle, I watch a solitary bull elephant feeding, as it deftly curls its trunk around tufts of grass, bangs the grass on the ground to rid it of soil, before placing the food delicately into its mouth.
When we stop near a water hole to hop off for a stretch, we watch as a band of bachelor elephants glides in silently on the other side of the water, to have a leisurely drink. The hair on the end of their tails is thick and black.
We observe a variety of game, including dwarf mongoose, stately giraffe, elegant kudu and many species of birds – like Purple Roller, Double-banded sandgrouse
This is remote Botswana, we meet no other vehicles in the Conservancy. Why does a chilled glass of white wine – or a classic gin and tonic – taste so good in the bush?
Back in Tuskers Bush
Our evening meal is festive. We sit together at a wooden table in the dining tent with the camp manager and our game guide, to share delectable food, pleasing wine
A raconteur of note, our guide tells of narrow escapes he has had from
Escorted by a guard, I return to my tent, to stand in silence under a bridal arch of stars forming the opaque milky way. I cuddle up to the hot water bottle I discover in my bed, as I listen to the howling of a jackal.
As I sleep with my tent flaps open, I wake to a melted vermillion sunrise,
Sun Destinations www.Sundestinations.co.za to find Tuskers Bush Camp, an affordable Botswana safari.
Airlink flies daily from OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport directly to Maun, in Botswana. www.flyairlink.com
As it is 2-2,5 hours drive from Maun, Tuskers Bush Camp can be reached on a 4×4 self drive, or lodge transfer.
Visas are not required by South African passport holders for a stay of up to 90 days. Visitors must be in possession of a valid passport with at least two blank pages.
Story by Gillian Mclaren