As we move into the hotter months, activity is heating up around the waterhole at Camp Kuzuma. The water deposits throughout the bush are drying up as rainy season becomes a distant memory; our pan in front of the lodge transforming into a life-source. Botswana is renowned for its high summer temperatures – water an essential service to wildlife – for cooling as well as hydration. The constant source of water at Camp Kuzuma is a known comfort for many animals, a safety net in the dry season, and imperative for survival.
Camp Kuzuma is located on the boundaries of both Chobe National Park in Botswana and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Animals move freely between the two countries, the area bustling with wildlife traffic. The lodge is situated near one of the main animal corridors – the Seloko Plains – a veritable animal intersection, abundant with a variety of wildlife. When dry season arrives, these animals seek the fresh respite of water from the Camp Kuzuma pan. This is advantageous to both the animals as well as the guests staying at the lodge – wildlife constantly appearing at all times of the day.
As they disturb the ground with their feet, the smell of the earth rises up; heat mixed with soil mixed with grass and dung – the wholesome and comforting aroma of nature.
One animal which particularly enjoys the benefits of H2O, are elephants. Drinking, splashing, swimming and mud basking are all included in an elephant’s visit to the waterhole – indulging in the cool and quenching aqua delights. The experience for the observer is multi-sensory. Low rumbles vibrate from the elephants’ bellies, expressing happiness and celebration – communicating with each other in a language beyond our comprehension – however, their joy is obvious. As they disturb the ground with their feet, the smell of the earth rises up; heat mixed with soil mixed with grass and dung – the wholesome and comforting aroma of nature.
The elephants greet each other as they congregate at the water – touching trunks and caressing wrinkled skin – checking in on friends and family. There is also a show of dominance as they descend to drink – a respected hierarchy within the herd. Every now and then a young bull tries his luck at breaking the rules, and is swiftly put in place. The young are protected and looked after by the females – each member a part of its communal care – guiding and shielding infants from potential danger.
One feels a sense of privilege to share a moment with an elephant. Gentle giants of the wild moving through their day with intention and wisdom, their awareness acute – trusting the waterhole is a place of safety. Releasing their guard for a moment to splash and play, throwing mud upon their back and rolling about in the cool water, immersed in fresh relief from the African heat. Witnessing this pure sense of joy is contagious – and one can only absorb and share in the moment of what can only be described as jubilation.
Camp Kuzuma is honoured to be the host for these incredible creatures, every visit a pleasure, wishing them a safe journey on departure, hoping to see them soon once more.