Just as we were setting back to base camp after a productive day of surveys, Eadin said in an off-hand manner ‘So today’s gonna be the day we meet the elephants right?!’. Katherine hastily replied ‘No don’t say that, it will happen because my camera battery has ran out!’. The elephants must have overheard us… By the time we were on the home straight driving through Phinda Reserve it was late afternoon and the suns lower position in the sky cast a golden warming glow across the savanna. Our attention was firstly caught by the towering figure of a male giraffe to the left side of the road. It turned out this giraffe acted as a landmark pointing us towards a large bull elephant that seemed to materialise out of the giraffe's tall shadow; prompting Katherine to exclaim ‘I knew it!’.
The bull boldly strolled across the road mere metres in front of our vehicle and reached the other side in a few large strides. We exhaled a collective gasp and this time our cameras were within grasp (except in Katherine's unfortunate case) ready to capture the majesty of this gentle giant. As we were occupied taking photos of the breath-taking bull we almost didn’t notice the arrival of two younger bulls which followed uniformly behind their superior. Wow. We were within close proximity of three bull elephants on our third official day on the reserve! Who could have dared hope for such an encounter!? The two younger bulls suddenly and purposefully turned to face each other, making eye contact while striding forward until their trunks touched and their youthful tusks interlocked in an embrace. I'm convinced they were posing for our cameras... What a wonderful natural behaviour this was to witness; a magical moment captured and thus made as eternal as the image etched in my memory. This was an encounter that I, and I hope the elephants, will never forget.