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Africa Geographic
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Africa Geographic Travel

Thanks to some recent rain, the Waterberg is lush, green, the rivers full and the dams overflowing. Last week the Marataba section of the Marakele National Park received over 160mm of rain in three days.

The day after the big rains I made my way along the Matlabas River in the late morning. It was nine o’clock and already over 30ºC.

On the road ahead I saw a large elephant cow cross the road towards the river. I approached slowly and parked where the road was close to the river’s edge.


The elephant cow had disappeared into the thick bush but we could hear the rustling of trees nearby, so we knew there was a herd feeding in there. Downstream we could hear splashing in the water but unfortunately the bush was too thick for us to see the elephant that was frolicking in the water.

We sat patiently watching some hippos doing what they do best – bobbing up and down in the water but never taking their eyes off of us.


The rustling in the bush got closer and closer, and before long we could see the large grey backs of some large elephants. Slowly the herd made their way out of the thick bush.


The elephant calves ran to the water’s edge with excitement and dove straight in! Their mothers stood close, protecting them from any potential dangers.


Soon we were surrounded by elephants making their way to play and drink in the water. Some of the elephants crossed to the other side where they met other herds, and we watched with interest as two herds met in the middle of the river whilst the hippos held their spot in the river.

Elephant-bull-in-water-eating-reeds two-elephant-bulls-playing-in-water Elephants-crossing-the-river elephants-playing-in-water

It was almost as though there was a previous arrangement made between nearly 100 elephants to meet at this specific point of the river. We were privileged to witness this event. Many splashed in the water, others trumpeted and the younger calves all but disappeared as they crossed the river with just their trunks above the water acting as snorkels.

Elephants elephant-calf-in-mud Elephant-bull-slashing-in-water
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Michelle Sole

Michelle Sole is a safari and polar guide, wildlife photographer and blogger. As a child, Michelle always had a love and respect for nature, animals and the outdoors. She competed for Great Britain as an alpine ski racer for ten years, chasing winters around the world. On a family holiday to Africa in 2008, Michelle fell in love with elephants. In 2011 she moved to South Africa where she completed her studies to become a field guide and worked for five and a half years in the Waterberg Biosphere in South Africa. In 2017 Michelle spent a year backpacking around the globe, travelling from one national park to another. At the end of the year she spent three months guiding in Antarctica. She now divides her time between the African sun and the Antarctic ice, sharing with guests her passion for whales, birds and photography. Her thrill for adventure, the outdoors and adrenaline are at the core of her photography and writing. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.