Close encounters with Buffalos

Early in the afternoon we leave the fully booked Imvelo Lodge and find ourselves a camping spot under three enormous trees. We can tell by the black patches of charcoal that there have been earlier campfires and probably campers around here. It is late in the afternoon when I walk around the car with rooftop tent. All of a sudden I feel a wave of discomfort in my body. I stand still, press my back against the hot steel of the car and look around. Sometimes you just know that something is out there watching you. Still with my back against the car I walk to the front of the vehicle to get a better view of my surroundings. When I reach it I can finally see what I felt staring at me for a while now: two male buffalos have separated themselves from the herd who we were told are in the area at the moment. Apparently we were not the only ones attracted by the grass and shades of the large trees we are under. I can feel my heart beat in my throat. Buffalos are part of the Big Five and without a doubt one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, especially when they are in small groups or when they are hurt do they tend to attack in unsure situations. We’ve never seen it before, but we were told it is as if the animal gets a red haze in front of its eyes. Whenever it decides to attack, it will not back off. Usually this happens to young males, who separate themselves from the herd and are driven by testosterone and possible injuries from earlier fights. I shuffle back to where I came from and out of sight. Luckily the doors in the front are open and the car is unlocked. I open the door of the Landcruiser as quiet as I possibly can and slide down on the passenger seat. I try to close the door behind me with a minimum of sound. I am now watching these magnificent animals through the front windscreen of the car. Both animals appear not to notice me anymore and I suspect that they can not see and smell me anymore through the tinted glass. Slowly I can feel my heartbeat return to normal. I take a closer look at the buffalos. They have a large crown of big horns that look like a curly wig from the 1600s plastered on their heads. Two beady dark eyes which are unreadable and give no clue as to what it’s thinking. Nostrils that are big enough to fit cans of soda in and a broad chest supported by giant front legs. The animal wears a thick layer of black hairy skin where you can clearly see the outlines of some powerful muscles. Both animals don’t really like the presence of the car it seems. After a while they turn around and walk towards the rest of the herd that I can see drinking at the waterhole a little distance away. I get my camera and walk a little detour to get to the lodge where Helga is. The lodge gives a perfect view over the waterhole where the whole herd of buffalos is enjoying the cool water. 

24 augustus 2016When we wake up the embers in the fire from last night are still glowing. We use them to make our Chili con Carne in the early morning. While I am peeling the onions I can hear sounds of the coffee being almost ready and I cannot really imagine having to eat this meal just yet. The heavy pot is put on the fire which contains a mix of beans, onions and minced meat. We enjoy our strong coffee and can see the sun rise slowly. We pack up our camp, Helinox chairs and brush down the layers of dust from the car. We take big black pan from the fire and put in a towel so it can simmer a bit longer. With a car that smells like Chili con Carne we say goodbye to the people we have met and we start to drive north alongside the border of Hwange NP. When dusk sets in we take our Troopy from the main track and park it in the thick vegetation. Even before it turns completely dark we’ve set up the tent and dished up our food. That night we are totally alone. The moon lights up our surroundings in grey-blue hues. When we get up in our tent we have a look at our map, tomorrow we will reach Victoria Falls.

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