The morning was rather eventless. Like yesterday, we’ve cycled on almost perfectly straight roads cutting through dry bush land.
After lunch, I saw our fastest riders gathered to the side of the road, waiting. Reason for their delay—a big elephant right to the side of the road, just some 50 meters ahead.
While we kept busy taking pictures, the elephant slowly crossed the road. Then the elephant took notice of us. Half of us—including myself—immediately turned around our bikes to increase the distance, ready to race any moment.
After a while, the elephant waked further away from the road. However, there was a fence some 30 meters in. The elephant was trapped, or rather—with the elephant having nowhere to go—we were trapped.
I suggested walking our bikes around the elephant in a big circle through the grass/bush to the opposite side of the road. For whatever reason, Rupert thought that was a bad idea. They had tried that yesterday and it hadn’t work, though—in all the excitement—I didn’t find out why.
The elephant settled into a shady position underneath a big tree some 25 meters to the side of the road and didn’t seem to move any time soon.
“What’s considered a safe distance?” I had asked Henry.
“About 100 meters”, he had advised.
Our racers got impatient. In a small group, they dared their luck and moved ahead.
The elephant got agitated as they cycled past. It flapped its ears, roared nervously, lifted its front trunks and seemed about to run off into the opposite direct, towards the remainder us! Some of us backed off, others were more keen on getting good photo shots. Fortunately, the elephant kept its position. However, having witnessed its agitation, no one any longer wanted to risk it and follow the racers.
So we waited, and waited. Eventually, a truck would come by. We could ask it to slow down and provide us a shield, so I thought.
We got even luckier—Tallis appeared. He asked us all to move up next to his cruiser. With the cover of his cruiser, we all safely passed the elephant.
Eventually, we’ve had our elephant encounter—it only takes one elephant in the room to spoil the party! Having said that, the delay was very much worth the experience.
Stage 65: Bush Camp – Nata (Botswana), 145km
Road & traffic condition:
Not always as smooth as yesterday, but still good.
Same old story—pleasant in the morning, up to around 30° C in the afternoon. Some rain late afternoon, but only briefly. After two months of rainy season in tropical climate, we’re eventually moving back into dryer territories. Things dry quicker again, and our tents remain mostly dry throughout the night.
Chicken curry and salad.
- Elephant encounter.
- Nice campsite with a swimming pool, WiFi, nice bar/restaurant, clean toilets and hot shower (Nata Lodge).