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Elephant Adventures

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 1 February 2013 | Views [620] | Comments [3]

By Bambelela standards it is now very late, at 10.45pm. Tonight I watched a movie with some of the other volunteers hence why I have not posted anything today and what a day it has been! I got up and did the usual clean out in the handicap cage and then swept the yard until it was time to get ready for our outing to Zebula for elephant interaction. There were three of us on the trip, Kristen – a well-travelled young Canadian who is good fun to be around, and Chris a Met Police Officer with a fantastically dry sense of humour who grew up in various African countries.

There seemed to be some confusion about the plans but as far as we were aware, we were meeting in the main house at 9am with our own coffee where they would give us breakfast. We went into the volunteer’s kitchen to make coffee and Damian was just finishing some sandwiches for us. Confused, we were told to hurry and eat and get up to the main house, which we did. On arrival we were handed plates of toasted sandwiches and crisps and told to eat up quickly. Not wishing to appear rude or ungrateful, we did! We tried our best to seem hungry which had the effect of making it very difficult not to laugh. In the end it was too much and we had to confess we had only finished first breakfast not 10 mins before. That more or less set the tone of the day. Everyone saw the funny side and we were reassured with the stock phrase of ‘don’t worry nothing goes to waste here’.

Silke, who is the founder of Bambelela, drove us to Zebula and I was glad to finally meet her properly. It is easy to see her philosophy which runs through everyone here – it’s all about the monkeys. She is deeply passionate about them and what she does. She deserves an entire entry dedicated to her, so I will suffice to say here that I liked her work immensely. The drive there was so full of stories and laughter that I would be hard pressed to tell you how long it took. We did stop very briefly in Bela Bela where Silke picked up marula fruit for us to try. If you have ever seen the film Beautiful People, you may know that it is this fruit the animals consume just as it is starting to ferment. The effect is that it gets them rather drunk. It’s an old film, but incredibly funny.

We arrived at Zebula, a five star golf and spa resort, home to cheetah, elephant and a host of the other animals that depict the African scene. Silke left us upstairs in the bar/café with 40 minutes until our pickup. We were mystified how the cocktail list managed to stand out mischievously from the identical food and drink menus…we only had one. I actually just had a mango smoothie but only because I have been craving fresh fruit since before I even got here.

The elephant interaction programme was absolutely fabulous – informative, interactive, sensitive to the elephants and fun. I have some great photos to add in as soon as I can figure out why I can upload to Facebook but not on here. Did you know that an elephant kiss consists of them trunk planting your entire face? We learnt that the head shake is an early warning that you have strayed too close. This could be useful information for Kristen who seemed quite keen on the idea that if you can get an elephant in the wild to ‘high five’ you, Zebula will employ you. We then did a half hour elephant back mini safari coming across a mother warthog with her three babies, zebra and various buck including a herd of Impala – distinguishable by their three tone colour, Eland and Kudu. All too soon it was time for our lift back to the cocktail menu, which made leaving just a little easier. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t find a single viable reason that we should stay put for the night, although there were many reasons we would have liked to decamp here.

Silke joined us for lunch and we drove back via Bela Bela by which time there was only the Spa Superstore open. I treated myself to two huge ripe mangoes, some koeksisters (a kind of pastry desert here) and cream soda (a wonderful fluorescent green drink that proudly claims not to contain tartrazine). How I missed the biltong (a kind of jerky) I am at a loss to understand, I shall have to prevail upon the kindness of those going into town tomorrow!

We arrived back at Bambelela just in time for dinner! Damian ordered us to eat a very tasty chicken stew with rice. I really don’t have space in my rucksack to buy larger clothes but if today is any indication of the next five weeks, it could well become necessary!

I could write for hours about what a fabulous day it was, spent in great company. Best of all, today I finally felt like I have arrived back in Africa.


Tags: elephants, fruit, game drive, smoothies, spa, zebula



Its 3am here and I have just read this blog..... I was amazed reading it but that last sentence has meant so much to read.....! Sending you loads of love!! xxx

  Jen Feb 2, 2013 1:59 PM


Soooo envious of so many things - but particularly the fresh mango and koeksisters!! Sounds fabulous and fun and a million miles from the rat-race; I feel like packing my bags!! xxx

  LYNNE Feb 3, 2013 3:58 AM


Wow I have been waiting for elephant day and it sounds amazing!!
So happy to read how happy you are, you are well and truly home!!
Keep blogging Ms M
Lots of love xx

  JJ Feb 3, 2013 7:44 AM

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