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Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Klaserie Sands River Camp

Written and photographed by: Greg McCall-Peat

Everyone is very aware of the intense drought that South Africa has been experiencing and the effect it is having on the reserves throughout the country, especially the Kruger National Park. It is with great happiness that I say the drought has finally broken and for the last week, we at Umlani Bush Camp in Kruger’s Timbavati region have been experiencing our first significant rains of the season.

Our first thoughts were, “It’s too little too late”. However, the bush has exploded into greens and there are now rain puddles being found throughout the bush. One of these pools that has formed was alive with activity earlier this week when a herd of elephants made their way over to it for some fun of giant proportions.


elephants-play-in-the-mud

rolling-around-in-the-mud

stuck-in-the-mud-elephant

It was a sighting that I personally had never seen in my 13 years of working in the bush. I had always seen the aftermath of these elephant play dates; mud everywhere with flattened trees and bushes all around the play areas, but I was always curious as to what went on when elephants are in the middle of a play session.

baby-elephant-takes-a-dip

elephant-haves-a-muddy-good-time

elephant-family-fun

I finally got to witness this special occurrence with my own eyes, and I was blown away by the sheer enjoyment an entire elephant herd gets from the mud. From adults to youngsters they behaved like children – pushing each other, wrestling and flopping around.

They were definitely celebrating the fact that the hard times from the drought were over.

elephant-up-close

elephant-enjoying-mud

Elephants in general are always entertaining to watch. They are always doing something of interest, but this was just special on all levels and a sighting that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It just goes to show that no matter how much time you spend out in the bush, nature always finds new ways to astound you.

Ndumu River Lodge
Umlani Bushcamp

Umlani Bushcamp is located in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. This is true Big 5 territory and guests have an opportunity to see lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino on safe, expertly guided game drives and bush walks.