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Walking in the wild

Rose Gamble relays her experience of walking in the remote Gonarezhou National Park, one of southern Africa’s great untramelled reserves
Admiring the morning light on the Chilojo Cliffs.
JIM BROWN

It was our first dusk. We’d parked by an enormous baobab tree, decanted G&Ts into glasses and walked 200m through the dimming bush. Somewhere in the shadow of the reddening cliffs, Ia lonely jackal called. We headed towards the empty riverbed, intent on watching the sun set from its gentle, sandy depths. As we left the last of the trees, a huge bull elephant lumbered up the bank, only metres away. For a moment, as time stood still, I noticed nothing but its sheer size, silhouetted against the orange sky. “Move behind,” whispered our guide, Scott Slatter, calmly. And together we reversed, as quietly as we could, back among the trees. Then he said, “Follow me.” And so I did, adrenaline unfurling its fiery fingers in my stomach. I felt tiny, fragile and, with a G&T in one hand, faintly ridiculous. We walked diagonally, slipping silently through the trees, until we stopped and crouched low in the shadow of a tangled acacia. With merely a tilt of its massive head in our direction, the giant beast continued, apparently unperturbed, on its path through the bush. Its hefty tusks gleamed purple in the gathering gloom.

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