BT stays with the mokoro and KK walks us inshore a bit, stops and tells us to gather round. “Ok, the bush is very very dangerous so we talking about what to do.” KK gives us the run down on behavior when we run into various animals and things to look out for. “If we meet lion or some lions, stare and look at it. Do not run away. Lions are lazy and most cowards and will just walking away. They do not know you. You do not look like food to them and so most times they walking away”, “Most times?”, “Yes. Maybe we fighting them, but I do not think so.”
“Now elephants, we have to check where we are. We always have to go down wind so they can not smelling us. Walking always down wind. If I see one I will signal..”, KK holds up a swat team stop fist, then points his hand to the right, “..and direct us where to go. Must being very quite. Even if they try to charge, we always have to go downwind. And please don’t do things before I say let us do this. If we get in danger I will let you know, ok, now we are in danger and let us try to do this.”
“Also here we have this animal that likes to dig holes where they looking for ants and termites. Which is an Aardvark. For you I think, Anteater. Some holes are covered by grass so please be careful where you applying your feet. And if you see a hole like this, please, I’m not allow you to stand in front of the hole before I check it. Some other animals like to making their living in the holes. Such as warthogs, hyenas, lions, they can breeding in the hole. Please, mostly the warthog are mostly dangerous animals when coming out from the hole. Because they’ve got aah, those teeth”, KK holds his thumbs up like tusks beside his mouth, “They are very sharp. And if they find you in front of that hole you will be, like.. it’s very, very, very dangerous.”
We follow KK single file and start out into the bush. It’s mainly sand and dirt, tall grass and small leafy trees that KK says the elephants and giraffe like. Lots of places for animals to hide here and the spidey senses are tingling the whole time. “Holy fuck, dude. Try walking in the back.” Oh yeah, wow. Head on a swivel. Mini freak out with every noise in the brush. The lagging foal in the back waiting to get picked off.
KK is pointing out different animal tracks and droppings as we go; Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, maybe some lion tracks here, we can follow those. He’s analyzing breakage in the trees and following tracks to figure out which animals are going where.
“Young elephant here. One young, one old. Old teaches the young. Maybe breeding den nearby.” We’re on the case..
Now, I’m no expert tracker or anything, but this fresh elephant poop is fairly easy to recognize. I’d say we’re close.
KK’s hand goes up and we stop. An index finger over the lips puts everyone in whisper mode. He hand motions for us to move left and we’re side stepping over grass and brush trying not to make any sound as we maneuver down wind. We come around some small trees and right there in front of us are two elephants
We come around for a better look but KK obviously feels we’re a little close and throws his hand up, jerking his thumb back over his shoulder motioning for us to retreat a safe distance away. Yeah, those elephants are looking right at us
KK covers his mouth with his hand and pulls us in together to whisper, “This elephant is not alone. It is trying to communicate. This is a breeding herd. We must not stay long. Don’t want to get stuck between these and others.”
Peter needs to change the battery in his camera. He’s unzipping zippers and slowly ripping velcro on his bag pockets looking for it and it’s making a little too much noise considering our proximity to the elephants. He gives that scrunched up, ‘fuck, sorry, I don’t know what to do’ face. KK whispers, “You can do it. Be quick. You don’t go hunting without the bullet.” This is probably one of the coolest analogies I’ve ever heard.
KK thinks we’ve overstayed our welcome and slowly motions for us to move on, down wind and away. He’s right, two other elephants are moving in the distance to join up with the other ones. Glad they came from that direction.
We come to a skeletal tree and KK rests his hand on it, “We make baskets from these trees.”
We come through another small clearing and a dozen or so Steenbok split off into the trees as fast as they can, galloping away. KK bends down beside some paw prints in the sand. “Thought these were lion back there. It’s just hyenas.” Funny that he was tracking lions and trying to get us into a situation where we’d find lions in the bush.
KK finds a small pile of animal droppings and bends down to pick some up. He squeezes it and smells it to see how fresh it is, “Giraffe. Seven or eight. Three male, four or five female. Heading that way.” He turns to show us the poop, “This one is female giraffe. It is round and flat. Males have a point on the tip. That is how you know.”
KK motions for us to be quiet again and we slowly make our way down a game trail through the small trees and out into some high grass surrounding an open field. I’m in the back again and for some reason it is terrifying with all of the cover around.
Across the clearing we spot the giraffe KK has been tracking, “There see? There will be more ahead.”
Yep, off in the distance are the others.
“KK, why do you wear such heavy clothing?”, “Better to sweat than burn.” This guy rules. Seems there is nothing that KK can’t answer simply and profoundly. “See this bird here”, he points to a small bird perched on a nearby tree, “It looks like Botswana flag. When it flying. There see?”, “Oh yeah. Wow that blue”, “Yes, very pretty bird.”
In the distance there are a herd of Zebra chasing each other around a small watering hole. KK leads us over
We get a little closer and the zebra sense us and rush away.
To our left are the eight giraffe KK has been tracking, “This male is very black. That is not normal giraffe color”, “Oh yeah, look at that”, “Very interesting.”
“These birds around the pool are Egyptian Goose.” We get closer to the watering hole and KK spots something and walks into the tall grass. “This is a dead pelican. This area used to be flooded. See the shells?”, “Oh yeah, snail shells”, “They fish here. Sometimes kill each other.”
KK picks up the dead pelican’s head to show us.
It is so bizarre to see empty water snail shells at the same time as there are eight giraffes just there in the distance. Is this the only place on the planet you can see something like that? “And here is a porcupine quill. Very sharp”
KK takes us over to a trench cut through the grass, “Is this a game trail?”, “These are Hippo trails. When the water flooding this area, hippo will making this trail.”
The giraffes are on to us now and start steadily bobbing their way East. We cross the clearing to where they were and over the ridge of trees beyond. I think KK is still looking for Lions. “Cats like the tall grass. Good hiding.” Instead we spot a herd of Wildebeest grazing and playing.
We’ve circled around now and are almost back to where we left BT and the mokoro. There’s the Dutch couple again, we wave at them as we come out of the brush.. “Whoa!” we get the silent signal again and KK is backing us up slowly. There are two more elephants in the trees right beside us. KK is motioning for us to slow down and move slowly, still facing the elephant. Is he worried? We are very close and I don’t think we’re down wind. We mind our steps and slowly circle around them back towards the water. They’re not interested, they lumber off in the opposite direction. Phewf.
We meet up with the Den Haag’rs and they ask where we went. I guess we were gone way way longer than they were. They only went for 20 minutes. We were gone almost 2 hours. They didn’t spot the giraffe, zebra, or wildebeest. Sounds like we lucked out with the right guide.
We sit under a tree for lunch. KK hands out some mayonnaise based sandwiches. Marks’ favorite. Nuts, apple, a hard boiled egg and yogurt. We lounge in the grass and mow. KK brings over a collection bracelets and baskets that he says his brother and mom make. I’ll support that, this was a great adventure.
While we eat KK continues to unload info, “This tree is Sycamore Fig. Elephants like it very much. The fruit. Funny to watch elephants shake palm trees for the fruit. You can treat a burn with the milk from inside. Very sticky. 2-3 days and it will heal. This other tree here we can use as medicine and to brush our teeth.”
Peter is managing camera lenses in his backpack while everyone finishes up lunch. KK comes over to see, “Are you preparing your gun?”, “Yes. For the ride back”, “Ok, let me go for bushy bushy.” We laugh at the term while KK goes over to a tree to take a leak.
“I am sorry we did not find lions”, I like that he’s apologizing for not scaring the shit out of us and getting us killed, “8 giraffes, 6 elephants, herds of Zebra and wildebeest. I think we did great”, “Definitely learned a lot in there, thank-you KK”, “You are nice. Thank you as well.”
BT has pulled over the mokoros and KK motions for us to load up for the return trip