Muddy funtastic at ‘Nxai National Park’, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

 

This one is just too cute, Nxai National Park, Botswana

This one is just too cute, Nxai National Park, Botswana

There is no denying! I have become an Elephanatic. The way these peaceful and joyful giants present themselves, particular here in Botswana, is just priceless.

Double Dutch, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Double Dutch, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Having taken 100’s off elephant photos already, little did I know about my upcoming Elephantastic show, here at Nxai National Park.

I was contemplating on visiting this Park, but on my “see what happens’ theory, decided to do so. I am glad I did.  Having a relaxed lunch break around some historic Baobab trees, I drove the unimaginable badly corrugated sand track further north. A little waterhole was my destination, the only available water source in this area. 

A jackal on the lookout, Nxai National Park, Botswana

A jackal on the lookout, Nxai National Park, Botswana

I didn’t expect a high quantity of grazers and predators around, as most moved southwest to the Boteti River.

Rarely seen during the day, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Rarely seen during the day, Nxai National Park, Botswana

A pair of jackals, mainly nocturnal scavengers, scouted the ground, whilst an ostrich roamed the savanna.

Heavy traffic on its way, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Heavy traffic on its way, Nxai National Park, Botswana

They ran in heavy traffic. 4 elephants, rather pale in colour, came my way. They looked thirsty and hot, surely they are heading for the waterhole. Half of them were younger ones, maybe they are up to some play?

Bush parade, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Bush parade, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The caravan came out through some bushes right in front off me.

Huge bull with large ivory, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Huge bull with large ivory, Nxai National Park, Botswana

While the leader took a shortcut.

Impressive in size, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Impressive in size, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Highly impressive in size, they crossed the road in front of me.

Tiny busy waterhole, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Tiny busy waterhole, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Arriving at the waterhole, 7 elephants occupied the fairly small pond already.

Excited bull, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Excited bull, Nxai National Park, Botswana

All were males it appeared, rather unusual. 

Coming closer without aggressive behaviour, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Coming closer without aggressive behaviour, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One big bull wandered over to my side off the pond,

Mud walk,Nxai National Park, Botswana

Mud walk, Nxai National Park, Botswana

he wasn’t far away. Not at all.

Anxious look, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Anxious look, Nxai National Park, Botswana

He was just about as anxious about Zimba as I was of him.

The arrival, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The arrival, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Meanwhile, the troop off four arrived.

Greetings, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Greetings, Nxai National Park, Botswana

After a quick ceremonial introduction and rank standings, it was shower time.

Nothing like a mud shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Nothing like a mud shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

There is just no business like shower business.

Dominance ritual, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Dominance ritual, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The leader of the four strolled over to the elephant closest to me. Another anxious moment. If they decided to have a wrestle, I was in the wrong spot. The smaller one acknowledged his arrival and retrieved. Phew.

Finally a shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Finally a shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The two smaller ones off the arriving herd were happy for a mud shower for the time being.

Muddy spray, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Muddy spray, Nxai National Park, Botswana

However, the look of the cooling liquid was just too tempting.

Finally, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Finally, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One by one, they slid into the muddy waters. What a scenario.

Elephant bully, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Elephant bully, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Watching these two youngsters pushing and shoving, quenching their thirst was a spectacular sight.

Drink up, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Drink up, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One of the youngsters felt a bit cheeky and provoked the other for a mud wrestling match.

Touching gesture, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Touching gesture, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Meanwhile, there was a bit of commotion on elephant hill. A submissive bull, cornered by a bigger bull, blew his trumpet. His friend, smaller than him, came over to calm him down. What a moving scene.

Senselessly happy, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Senselessly happy, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The youngsters meanwhile lost all sense of reality, enjoying the waters immensely.

A breather, Nxai National Park, Botswana

A breather, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Blowing air bubbles, spraying mud on each other,

Shower or drink?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Shower or drink?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

or just simply sitting back.

Showing off in front off the adults, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Showing off in front of the adults, Nxai National Park, Botswana

These elephant scenes cannot be described.

Eye rubbing, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Eye rubbing, Nxai National Park, Botswana

In between, there was time for cleaning their eyes. These young trunks are incredibly flexible.

Classic, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Classic, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The bull, who stood closest to earlier, used a termite mound to scratch areas he couldn’t reach. If I wouldn’t know better, he was smiling looking towards in relief. It really was hard to concentrate on all elephants with so much going on. Particularly the young ones in the pool kept me entertained.

Trunk tricking whilst getting out, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Trunk tricking whilst getting out, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One of them decided it’s time to get out, in peculiar ways.

More trunk action, Nxai National Park, Botswana

More trunk action, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Slowly moving out, still spraying mud and swerving his trunk, he demonstrated how a trunk can be used.

What a comedian, Nxai National Park, Botswana

What a comedian, Nxai National Park, Botswana

A real trunk artist.

Welcome back shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Welcome back shower, Nxai National Park, Botswana

His mate was still in the water, so he decided to join him again. He was welcomed with a mud shower, that’s what friends are for.

Muscle tussle, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Muscle tussle, Nxai National Park, Botswana

He didn’t appreciate this gesture, before settling back into the mud.

Botswana, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Mud wrestling, Nxai National Park, Botswana

His mate decided that it’s time for a matchup.

Audience walks off, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The audience walks off, Nxai National Park, Botswana

These two got the entertainment award for the afternoon, whilst other elephants disappeared in the distance.

Elephant hill, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Elephant hill, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The audience just watched in elephant laughter, I am sure.

Dirty tricks, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Dirty tricks, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Over and over, they matched up. One had a few dirty tricks of his trunk. Boys will be boys.

Swimming lessons, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Swimming lessons, Nxai National Park, Botswana

After all that heated entertainment, it was time to refuel and enjoy the cold waters.

Submarine, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Submarine, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Leaving his trunk out like a submarine, this one had the time of his life. His mate did too, showing what he’s got.

Unwanted help, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Unwanted help, Nxai National Park, Botswana

He then decided it’s time to move on and tried to help the other out of the water. But he wasn’t done yet.

With a little help from your friends, Nxai National Park, Botswana

With a little help from your friends, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Again and again, he got pushed until his friend eventually was out.

Not happy, Jen! Nxai National Park, Botswana

Not happy, Jen! Nxai National Park, Botswana

He was clearly not impressed to be on dry land, whilst the other had yet another mud bath. That just isn’t fair.

Time to step in, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Time to step in, Nxai National Park, Botswana

It was time for the group leader to step in. With a trunk touching gesture, he signaled for the other to come out.

Just a little bit longer?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Just a little bit longer?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The younger one replied with a gentle trunk anchor. OM-D, some humans should take an example of this behaviour.

Time to get out!, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Time to get out!, Nxai National Park, Botswana

A more serious look from the elephant who was possibly dad showed he wasn’t joking. It’s time to get out.

Unwanted departure, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Unwanted departure, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Unwillingly and slowly he got out. That’s it for the afternoon show I thought. It only was an intermission.

Dodging Guinea Fowls, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Dodging Guinea Fowls, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One quick late drink for the youngster, whilst dad was already on his way, dodging the incoming guinea fowl armada. These were thirsty too and carelessly moved within their well-oversized counterparts.

Done and dusted, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Done and dusted, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The first youngster out had a dust shower, typical elephant protocol.

Tempting waters, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Tempting waters, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The other one, however, was mesmerized by the reflecting waters. The smile on his face meant only one thing. He appeared to be tussling with himself. I am not allowed to go back in, but I sooo want to.

See what happens when I lay here?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

See what happens when I lay here?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

He compromised by sitting on the edge and if he slips in, it wasn’t his fault. Well, the inevitable happened.

Slippery slope, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Slippery slope, Nxai National Park, Botswana

His body mass couldn’t support the slippery slope and ‘whoops’, he was back in.

Ooops, how did that happen?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Ooops, how did that happen?, Nxai National Park, Botswana

What a clown this one is. Clearly satisfied he made the most out of his so-called unwanted situation.

I have to, I don’t want to, Nxai National Park, Botswana

I have to, I don’t want to, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Hugging the shoreline over and over again, he knew he was told to get out. But it’s sooo much fun in the water.

 

Throwing a tantrum, Makgadikgadi National Park, Botswana

Throwing a tantrum, Makgadikgadi National Park, Botswana

Swirling the waters by trampling, and throwing mud around,

No one here to play with, Nxai National Park, Botswana

No one here to play with, Nxai National Park, Botswana

he just wasn’t ready to go.

Oh well, I better get out, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Oh well, I better get out, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Like a little kid throwing a tantrum, this one was more entertaining.

It’s not fair, Nxai National Park, Botswana

It’s not fair, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Nope, not just yet. This is just to nice to leave.

One last wet smile, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One last wet smile, Nxai National Park, Botswana

One last stretch, before he reluctantly got out of the pond. I really couldn’t believe what just happened the last few hours. I don’t think many people witnessed such a spectacle. And if they did, I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

The sun was setting low and I still had a tortuous corrugated track in front of me. I had to be out by 6:30 pm and 40 km to cover. I stopped where I met this entertaining herd of elephants the first time. Sure enough, they were coming back this very same way.

Painted elephant caravan, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Painted elephant caravan, Nxai National Park, Botswana

The leader had already gone home, the last three arrived with the setting sun.

Elephant crossing in sepia, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Elephant crossing in sepia, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Crossing the road at the very same spot, giving us one cheeky look, as if to say ‘ I hope you enjoyed the show’. ‘I sure did, but not as much as you did’ I thought.

Back to where we came from, Nxai National Park, Botswana

Back to where we came from, Nxai National Park, Botswana

So the elephant caravan disappeared in the bush and this is how this Elephantastic story ends. A full circle of entertainment. I needed a coffee to calm my nerves (sounds contradictive, I know), before pushing poor Zimba through this rough track. His shock absorbers got a fair work out, as did the whole car. With long and deep soft sand pockets, I needed to keep momentum up, which wasn’t favourable for anything. On the dot 6:30 pm I arrived at the gate. The office was already closed, rangers were at home in nearby housing. I stopped as I hadn’t paid my fees yet. The ranger lady came towards me within her fenced surroundings and said it’s all ok, I can go. Woohoo, bonus.

2 thoughts on “Muddy funtastic at ‘Nxai National Park’, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

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