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Kissed by an elephant at Buffelsdrift

A  silence falls over the day, an earthy scent mixes on the cool morning air and I  sense a familiar calm. It’s time to venture into the South African bush. My  next few days are spent at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, just off the famous Route  62 known as the Garden Route.

With  a backdrop of magnificent mountains and a waterhole on the doorstep,  Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is authentic, luxury tent accommodation offering an  escape to something spectacular. This is the closest you will get to the wild  of the Klein Karoo.

There  are 25 free-standing luxury tents all offering en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor hot water shower, dual air-conditioning,  digital safe, mini bar, hairdryer, telephone and tea and coffee  facilities.  Of these 25 luxury tents, nine are waterfront where from your  sundeck where there is nothing between you and the water’s edge, you can enjoy  sundowners and an early morning view of your free-roaming neighbours.  The  other 16 tents are horizon view that are set only a few meters away from the  waterhole and provide an elevated view of the surroundings.

Kate in AfricaA  fenced property, it is safe to stroll around the grounds and from your tent to  the main lodge and restaurant. Game drives from the lodge with experienced  rangers allow you to experience an array of wildlife including elephants,  rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and over 200 bird species.

The lodge is just a stone’s throw away from other  attractions such as the culture-rich town of Oudtshoorn, the Swartberg Mountain  Nature Reserve, the Cango Caves and the Gamaskloof Valley (“Die Hell”).

Giving  the game drive a miss, I decide to relax on the main deck overlooking the  waterhole with a glass of local pinotage. From my spot in the sun I can hear  the familiar sound of hippos. Scanning the waterhole for any sign of these  amazing creatures, I am thrilled to see bubbles followed by a nose, two eyes  and two ears. The hippos have arrived. Watching them move around the damn  entertains me for the afternoon.

The  following morning I rush through breakfast, eager for the Elephant encounter.  There are three African elephants that have been raised at the lodge and  enables a breathtaking interaction experience. With a bucket of fruit in hand  and my breath ready to be taken away, we make our way to the elephants.

Having  seen elephants up close from a game viewing vehicle, the first thing that blows  me away is the sheer size of these animals when actually stood on the ground  next to them.  I look up at the towering mass of wrinkles caked in dried  mud and I am met by a big brown friendly eye lines with some of the longest  lashes I have seen.  To stare into an Africa elephants eye like that brought  tears to my eyes with such a magical connection.  As if feeling the same,  the elephant lifts his enormous trunk and wraps it around me in a welcoming  elephant hug.  Unable to help myself, I give him a kiss on the trunk  before rewarding him with a tasty treat of pear.

After  the hands on encounter, we are able to walk with these gentle giant along the  damn wall.  I can see the elephants enjoy the interaction as much as we  do, and cannot wait to get to the water and show off with a little play amongst  the three of them.  This by far has been my most memorable moment in South  Africa to date, and I will never forget that connection and kiss.

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