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76 MIN READ TIME

The smell of the rain

A gigantic slurping awakens me from my contemplation — not so dissimilar to the noise of a plughole greedily sucking dirty dishwater into oblivion — and I glance around sharply. An elephant is standing a couple of hundred yards away, glugging the contents of my plunge pool. Once finished, she slowly and silently plods to the next room along to empty theirs.

After the storm. A dazzle of Burchell’s zebra and a solitary blue wildebeest on the move in the Makgadikgadi.
Richard du Toit

“This happens all the time”, laughs Cathy Rann, Ngoma Safari Lodge’s relief manager, more amused than vexed. “There’s nothing you can do other than wait for them to move on and deal with the destruction then.” As if on cue, the great pachyderm snaps off a few branches unapologetically, chews them distastefully and spits them out, before lumbering down the vertiginous slope to a pitiful waterhole beneath the lodge. Once there, she takes deep swigs of the cool water. Soon others arrive; one by one they pause by each plunge pool to check for dregs, cross the burnt-umber lands to the dwindling lagoon where, with relief, they spray their vast, sunbaked bodies with the cool mud and slurp thirstily.

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Travel Africa
April-June 2016 (74)
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