Giraffe, Hippo, Elephant, and Buffalo

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By Chelsea

They were afraid we weren’t going to return, but we did. After four and a half hours of walking around the Okavango Delta we returned to camp tired but alive after a successful adventure. We left camp for our game walk at around 6:30 this morning with a different guide that we had not had before. He was an older man with grey thinning hair, wearing a hat, trench coat, walking stick, and missing his two front teeth. After a while of walking through the tall grass he stopped us and pointed up towards a hill. When we looked up and focused on what his stick was pointing at we saw three giraffes. They were still pretty far and were starting to walk away. As they were walking we also saw zebras accompanying them. To get a better look our guide started leading us quickly up a parallel hill to catch up with them. Let me tell you speed walking is not the easiest thing in the world and when you add a sandy hill into the equation you get a real workout. As we were chasing the giraffes they would walk and run with the zebras. It was an amazing sight to see and at that point we were feeling pretty fulfilled with our game walk because we had all really wanted to see giraffes. We continued walking however until we got to the water. There we saw the hippos. Every night we can hear them but seeing them is even cooler. There were about five in the water poking their heads up watching and talking to us. Wem, our guide, then began to call out for them to come closer. We all kind of laughed thinking he was just a funny crazy old man talking to the hippos until one actually started coming towards us. He would call out, “Come here hippo we want to see you come right over here!” and the hippopotamus would literally move closer to us and make noises towards us (I got it on video if you don’t believe me). He was truly a hippo whisperer. After seeing the hippos Richard said, “now the only thing that would make this game walk complete would be seeing an elephant.” And after walking maybe three minutes away we did see one eating off in the distance across the water. Again I told myself how lucky we were today to see giraffes, hippos, and an elephant and this was the best game walk so far. We started to head back because it was getting closer to when we were supposed to arrive back at camp and as we were walking we saw another elephant a little ahead of us. We didn’t want to walk any closer to it so we sat down beneath a tree to take pictures and relax a little. A few seconds later I looked over and out of nowhere there was an elephant standing to the right towering over us about fifty feet away. I was really startled and amazed at how close he was to us and that we didn’t even realize he was there at first. A second after we saw him we heard banging behind us and when we turned around there was an elephant trying to knock down a tree. Now keep in mind this all happened in about seven seconds and out of surprise we jumped to our feet and started running to the left (the only direction there wasn’t an elephant). The guide told us to stop a few feet away and we just watched. Elephants are spectacular to watch and pretty funny as well. To get the leaves on the trees they just knock them down. So there we were, right in front of three elephants less than 50 feet away. We watched as one of them kept ramming the palm tree trying to knock it down as well as trying to push it down with its trunk. We spend a lot of time following and watching the elephants once we could get to a safe distance. After we had come as close as we could to them, our patience was running out we kept walking on. Seeing those elephants and being so close and surrounded by them was definitely one of the highlights of my life. It was about time for us to be back at camp and the sun was getting hotter by the second. As we continued walking we saw another elephant and started walking towards it to get a better look. As we were walking Wem said, “Buffalo quick come” and he started running forward so we followed. Through a clearing we could see them. A whole herd of buffalo was grazing. Then in a flash they started running towards us and with a panicked look on his face our guide told us to run. We booked it back (I’m pretty sure Kassi has never run that fast in her life) and then stopped when our guide shouted for us to stop. We looked behind us and saw that the buffalo had stopped running towards us. We were then asked if we knew how to climb trees. I said no and was told that if they ran towards us again we would have to jump up into the trees or we would get trampled. A few seconds later the herd moved again but this time right in front of us, not towards us. Wem said that they might have run because they saw a lion. Luckily we did not run into that lion! After this our heart rates had come down to a normal level and the adrenaline was starting to wear off. When we checked the time we saw that we were almost an hour late back to camp and we better get a move on. After what seemed like forever of walking we asked Wem how far away were from camp and he replied with a smile, “we are very far away, it will take about an hour and twenty five minutes.” We thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. The sun was beaming down on us and breakfast awaited us as we made the long trek back through the delta towards camp. They were starting to get worried about us, but we were just glad we could make it back to tell them the tale of our game walk.