Botswana Adventure | Walking with Giants
My last post from Botswana, and where better to end than with our new friends at Abu Camp.
Early starts at Abu, be it for game drives or a walk with the elephants, are done just right. Bubbling away in those pots are vats of creamy porridge with caramel sauce with mugs of fresh tea and coffee ready as soon as you are. Speaking as a true night owl, I’ve never found a 6 A.M start easier….
We wanted to spend as much time as possible with the elephants so our mornings were either spent walking through the bush with the herd as our chaperones, or riding through the bush with the elephants as our steeds. I was, and remain, in two minds about riding elephants… There is so much controversy surrounding riding elephants at the moment so it’s a tricky one to navigate. I’ve never done it before and have actively opted not to previously, like when I was in Jaipur at the Amber Fort and the elephants are purely there to ferry tourists up to the fort hour after hour. But at Abu, it felt so different. Like I said in my previous post, there are no chains anywhere at Abu and the elephants are trained in a way that focuses on positive reinforcement and they’re only available to be ridden by guests one hour a day. After chatting to numerous people about riding the elephants at Abu and seeing them firsthand with the handlers and the mutual respect they have for one another, we decided to go for it. It was truly magical to walk through the rivers and pass herds of wild elephants on the Abu herd but obviously riding ellies is totally up to you and not the be all and end all of being at Abu Camp. I would encourage you to have a good read of Abu’s website before you jump to too many conclusions or negative assumptions though as this such a unique place and so far from anywhere else I’ve ever come across that offers riding elephants.
But the real star of the show is Baby Naledi, which conveniently translates as star. This three year-old orphan is something of a super star at Abu camp. Orphaned, unable to be fostered, bottle-reared and survivor of two operations, this little(ish) girl is such a character and much-loved by everyone that gets the chance to hang out with her, albeit for a day or a year. Give her a bottle (or six) and play stuck in the mud with her as she wallows around in her actual element. Still pinching myself we got to be this up close and personal with a baby elephant…
And if you really can’t get enough of the elephants? You can even spend a night in the ‘Star bed’ and sleep under the stars next to the elephant enclosure where they spent the night so you can hear them eating and dreaming all night long….
If you ever get the chance to go to Abu Camp, a real once-in-a-lifetime place, please give Naledi, Kathy, Paseka and all the rest of thr Abu herd a stroke for me. And if you haven’t been to East/Southern Africa before hopefully my last few travel posts have given you a bit of a nudge to explore one of my favourite parts of the planet….