Chasing Elephants in Namibia
Every moment in Namibia was a moment well spent. Traveling to a country, heck a CONTINENT, I have never been to before was remarkable in its own right, but when I think about the things I got to do, the experience becomes that much more amazing. Although I had many thrilling experiences, one that sticks out occurred during my time in Damaraland. We arrived at our destination after leaving Swakopmund by the coast and although I missed the sea and of course the sand dunes for which Namibia is famous, the odd rock mountains were a fabulous sight. I call them rock mountains because I honestly don’t know how else to explain them! Perhaps “giant heaps of rocks” would work to illustrate a better picture (I climbed a few of these during my time there; the echoes were magnificent). We set up camp at a location manned by EHRA (Elephant Human Relationship Aid), some of us chose to pitch tents, but I preferred sleeping under the stars on an elevated platform. Our first night, we were met by Mateo, a man who works for EHRA and is in charge of locating the elephants daily, no small feat since they can travel more than 40 kilometers a night. He was trained by the Bushmen themselves and is incredible, truly a man whose presence cannot go unnoticed. He explained to us what we would be doing and how best to remain safe during the next day. I cannot speak for anyone else, but my heart was filled to the brim with anticipation that night.
Breakfast was a speedy affair, and soon the next morning, we were off. There were two vehicles, each with three rows of seats in the back, with the roof and sides nonexistent. Once we are settled, we begin zooming down bumpy dirt roads, who knows how fast we were going, passing blurred trees and viewing distant rock heaps, when all of a sudden we stop. Mateo has located a footprint. A FOOTPRINT! Barely visible to me as I view it from a static position. I cannot begin to comprehend how he saw it… along the way, we stop and inquire about the herd’s location from the locals. We climbed two of the rock mountains and alas on the second mountain top, Mateo spots them in the distance. Once again, do not ask me how; I could have spent all day up there and only seen giraffes (a marvelous sight on their own).
We’re off again! This time with a more focused direction. At last we find them…marvelous, truly and inexpressibly marvelous. To see elephants free and wild…that one moment would have made the whole trip worth it. We stay and watch for a while, then decide to find the other herd. We must have seen more than 20 elephants that day, one coming so close we could have touched him.
An unforgettable experience, to say the least.
Reflecting on My Time in Namibia – Read about Jaspreet’s final thoughts on the time in Africa and why a change of major was the right decision