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KHWAI, BOTSWANA - By the River of Dead Trees

Posted by Petr Slavik on

The sky has not cleared after the violent storm. Clouds in the west steal the light of the late afternoon. I have been waiting impatiently all day for the storm to clear. I sit down with Vincent in the Jeep parked by the Khwai River. The river separate’s Chobe National Park from Khwai Development Trust in northern Botswana. The natives refer to it as the “River of dead trees.”


When I look around at the amount of dead trees, I must admit the name is quite fitting. Elephant herds often cross the lazy river where our car is parked but today the area is very quiet besides the baboons that came to drink.


Suddenly, two small male elephants enter into the water through the dense vegetation on the other side of the river. They were only there a few moments before disappearing into the vegetation once more. It appears we are alone once again.


The quietness was short lived. As if someone pulled back a curtain, a large group of elephants appeared. There are many females with calf’s who play in the water drowning each other and spraying each other from their trunks. More and more elephants keep coming, the end of the herd nowhere in sight. It was wonderful to watch and I wish I brought a flashlight so we could continue.


The last rays of sunlight were vanishing from the sky and coming were more heavy rain clouds. The herd of elephants crossed the river directly in front of us. We were afraid to turn on the engine because it might provoke the animals to attack. They were everywhere now. As they passed the Jeep, a few of the baby elephants sprayed water at it. One large female decided to spray dust onto the windshield. The last of the elephants finally disappear into the night, their wet bodies just black silhouettes disappearing into the gathering gloom.

BushmanShop, Petr Slavik - explorer and renown photographer


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