If she’d ordered the wildlife experiences beforehand, photographer Caroline Culbert couldn’t have had a more thrilling and productive safari on the Abu Concession…
Our first night at Abu was Movie Night with the Abu team as well as Bee, the elephant manager. We watched Paseka – The Easter Elephant, whose poignant story had everybody’s undivided attention for a full 55 minutes, sitting at the pan under African sky. Paseka was found around Easter 2009 abandoned by a wild herd after being attacked by hyaenas. She had taken refuge in the generator room of neighbouring Seba Camp, at which point it was too late to “let nature take its course”, and she was brought to Abu where her wounds were treated and Shireni, who was lactating at the time, readily adopted her.
On our second night we enjoyed tapas around a bonfire with truly hilarious storytelling by our guide, Ike. The food was incredible!
Fearless Ike also pulled off a proper “night drive” (half-way through a delicious salmon dinner) to see the lion pride at full moon. They were in go-slow due to the bright night, but as we sat with them, a hyaena stumbled in, which got them a bit riled up. We were incredibly close during all of this, as they were lying in the road enjoying the warm sand.
If it’s possible, over the following days he topped all that with fun bush walks, tracking, bush toothbrushes, grass-whistles and grass ring-making antics.
During this time we also saw the same lion pride execute three hunts after sleeping all day: they caught a large warthog. Our hero Ike got us across the floodplain as though the vehicle was a speed-boat, just in time to see the lions trap the warthog in the water!
Ike has great insight into animal behaviour in the Delta, and shared his extensive knowledge in a truly lovely way with us. You can watch a short video of the kill here, though I must add it is a little grisly.
The trauma of the lion kill was compounded by the sight of a pair of interlocked kudu which had recently died in a territorial fight – the way of nature can be hard to take sometimes, I must say.
Our elephant-back safari with the Abu Herd was a huge hit with 13-year-old Ethan. He loved the rides and the feeding sessions. Those elephants are amazing, and it is truly intimidating to be in their zone!
Watch a short video of the mokoro ride with the elephants here.
Naledi is growing fast, and can be quite a handful, so hiding behind Bee was a good strategy!
She experiences a fair amount of solitude as she is left behind in the boma when the herd is out in the bush so she loves company and watching her performing her antics was really great fun to see. There is some cute video here too.
Precious is a Bush Buddy mentor who also joined us at Abu, playing games with Ethan and riding elephants with us. I must say, when it came to Monopoly, Ethan pulled the wool over all of our eyes, getting away with ‘Monopoly Mayhem’!
Another amazing occasion was watching the Abu herd interact with wild elephants. Ike says that allowing them this time to roam free has a hugely positive impact and they are much less prone to stress. A wild bull was very interested in meeting the teenage female elephants, and had us in stiches, watching him try to sneak around with them.
Abu Camp should be very proud of their extraordinary staff – everyone spoiled us rotten with endless treats and surprises – and the life-changing African safari experience they offer…