The Olifants River is a tributary of the “Great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo river.” *
The river runs through the center of Kruger National Park, dividing the northern and southern regions.
Olifants rest camp has arguably the best view in Kruger, lying hundreds of feet about the river and offering panoramic views of the African veld from the comfort of your rondavel porch. All of these photos were taken from our porch, with the exception of a few of the following ones, taken in the bush near the river.
If you look you can see blurring near the elephants feet. This is when my camera started to break down after three harsh weeks in the bush.
A huge variety of animals come to the river to drink, including of course the elephants that often walk single file to the water. In South Africa winter is the dry season, and the river provides scare water to a variety of animals. Olifants is the Afrikaans word for elephant, and many elephant herds spend the South African winter near the river.
There is a long walk from the shelter of the veld to the river and animals make the trip in a very cautious manner, always on the lookout for predators. Zebras have a guard who scans the bush while the herd drinks. You can see the guard on duty on the far right.
Giraffes are the most cautious of all. They scan the veld closely before drinking. They must essentially disable themselves to drink, buckling or splaying their legs in order for their heads to reach the water and this makes them vulnerable to attack.
When they drink, they do so briefly, immediately resuming the scan, before they drink again. Giraffes only sleep for minutes at a time, remaining continuously vigilant.
Great herds of Cape Buffalo come to the river to drink.
Hundreds block the road enroute to the river and when you encounter a herd, you sit in your car, surrounded by a sea of huge buffalo and wait.
It is unnerving, especially when you are the only one on the road. You can see this buffalo warning us not to proceed. We listened to him!
I am home at The Holler now, but send you cheers, and a South African river sunset!
* Source:The Elephant’s Child, Rudyard Kilpling

210 thoughts on “Olifants~

  1. Stunning pics that make me want to race back to Olifants.I have been there once, but your pics have put it back on my radar. What time of year were you there?

    1. We arrived in late May. The last time we went we were there at the same time. We like it because winter has started, the water holes are receding and the bush is drying, but the tourists haven’t really arrived yet, and the many of the dirt and paved roads we have to ourselves. This time I booked prime units precisely the moment they became available online. It made a big difference due to the views. I can understand you wanting to go back to Olifants. They have remodeled. Quite nice. Book prime river view units, there are only about 14, about a year ahead.

  2. More Ellies — I LOVE them! And this time, you’ve included zebras and giraffes, too — what fun! Cindy, I thank you for posting all these, and I hope your camera is back to working!

    1. I got a new one when we hit London. Just in time to photograph a fox family in central London. Wildlife follows me! Laughing. My other camera is now in the shop.

  3. Well captured, Cindy. The river is such a vital source and your pictures tell the story. Thanks for the title and translation. Your camera needs a break. 🐘🐘🐘

    1. Yes, it is a very moving, very spiritual place, which of course you can sense even in the photos, because you are are a sensitive soul Cynthia. Abrazos mi amiga! <3

    1. Thank you and I am worried about you leaving WP. I will follow you but this often doesn’t seem to stick with other friends who have left. I wish all good things for you Timothy~

  4. “β€œGreat, grey, green, greasy Limpopo river.” I can still hear Sterling Holloway’s voice drawing those words out on the old record I used to have. Love this! Beautiful pics, as always. πŸ˜€

    1. ….all set about with fever trees! I know much of The Elephant’s Child by heart since I was a child, dreaming of going to live in Africa. Everything in life returns to the beginning~

  5. What an amazing landscape to vacation in. So much wildlife and after 3 weeks you probably became a little ‘wild’ yourself, I imagine! So much to process, you’re probably still half in Africa and half home. Welcome back!

    1. It is so strange, I was ready to come home. Now part of me is already missing it. I can’t even imagine what a permanent joy it would be to have Kruger on your border, able to visit when you choose. Imagine the photos you would get over the course of a few years!

  6. I grew up with the Kipling phrase ringing in my head: The great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo river! It’s wonderful to see such stunning photographs associated with it.

    1. Yes, I grew up with Kipling as a kid too. My father gave me a compendium oh his work including The Elephants Child which I basically can recite much of to this day from memory. Sounds like Kipling instilled a love of Africa and it’s creatures in us both, and yes, seeing the Limpoco, “all set about with fever trees,” brought all the wonderful words rushing back. Glad to know you share this!

    1. Yes, but they are so happy when they are in a herd. The lone males have a harder time. In a group, they are more carefree and very curious. They tend to approach you for a closer look. Much less skittish then many other grazers.

    1. Yes, it is this total rush of constant discovery and thrill. For me probably the greatest thrill in life is observing wildlife. Africa and Antarctica are the two places where doing this is just off the charts. Antarctica has to be in place number 1, because there are literally NO people and the most populated wildlife area in the world. The animals have no fear and look you in the eye. But Africa is magical in a different way. Both are incredible, spiritual places.

  7. Welcome back, Cindy! What a magnificent trip you had. Can’t imagine sitting in a car, surrounded by a sea of huge buffalo… Winter must be rough for those animals due to the water. So your camera over worked. Thank your for the tour πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, the camera had me really frustrated because at the end it was taking suboptimal shots. I had my old backup but is was tired too. The Sony HX 300/400’s are wonderful cameras but they are so high tech that they are not that hardy for the amount of photos I take and the harsh use I subject them too, especially in the African bush.

  8. What a strange and unsettled life giraffes must lead, Cindy! I didn’t know that about their sleep pattern. And that zebra guard is very cute there, on duty in his pj’s. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, you know who I thought had a tough time was the alpha males with the harems. They live a stressful life, always on guard protecting the flocks, getting attacked by males who practice relentlessly to topple the leader. They spar with trees and sand practising their attacks on the alpha, and I have photos of this. The leader is the last to eat and responsible for keeping the entire flock safe from predators. The only thing the alpha gets for all this stress is lots of sex and lots of children. Let’s face it Jo, we could have had both of those things without any of the aggravation, whenever we wanted it! πŸ˜‰ The giraffes that have a hard time are the lone males. The females in the herds seem a lot more relaxed. It might be hard to be a male grazer. The lonely male elephants are awfully grumpy too come to think of it…..

  9. I stood on the very same hillside twenty two years ago, timeless photographs; I have their brothers and sisters although mine are creased, faded and not so good. Thank you for refreshing my memories of The Kruger.

    1. Oh, I want to hear more about your experience! That view down onto Olifants has to be one of them most memorable in the world. My husband immediately said on seeing it, oh this is as amazing as Iguazu Falls. It is one of the world’ s most memorable and I am so happy you were there! If you have time, please tell me more!

      1. Hi Cindy, The Kruger is a memorable place and the view down upon the river particularly special. I recognised it at once from your fantastic photographs. My wife and I visited South Africa many years ago before the ending of apartheid; we also travelled to Botswana and Swaziland. The trip was special to both of us for many reasons and would prefer not to elaborate any more if that is okay. For me, the greatest gift Southern Africa gave me was my memories, particularly of the people I met, and especially the few I tried to help in my own small fashion. Thank you for asking about my trip and I’m sorry I cannot be more forthcoming, I’m still far too private, not exactly the credentials of a blogger. However, today you have taken me down a memory path I have neglected to walk latterly and brought special faces, places and events back to me. What more could you want form your post. For now, Paul

      2. I couldn’t respect and appreciate your desire for privacy more. Your trip sounds like an incredible experience and you are right, having you recognize that you stood on the same spot where I took the photos twenty five plus years ago is a synchronistic moment if ever there was one. Having it bring that recognition, and positive memories to you of the elephants, makes me very happy I posted and you saw the post. Be well my friend & thank you for telling me~

  10. Fabulous! I too have, somewhere in a scrap book, in a box in the back/bottom of our storage locker a photo of the great grey green greasy Limpopo River at sunset. I love all your photos of the herds drinking. Must have been a wonderful experience to be able to just sit and watch them come and go. Africa is in the list!

    1. I know it is on your list. I sense the anticipation and the planning in you across the miles and I cannot wait till you start planning. Let me know when you do and I will share in the joy with you Alison. <3

  11. What a wonderful trip to the water! I am glad to know you are safely home. I have enjoyed your safari and look forward to more. Thanks so much, Cindy, for sharing it.

  12. Wonderful pictures, Cindy! I know how it feels to be surrounded by a huge buffalo herd as the only car on the trail. Quite tense πŸ™‚ What a wonderful trip you had, thanks for sharing so much African beauty!

  13. Oooh!!! I’m SO glad you explained the origin of the word “Oliphants.” I just can’t get that part in Lord of the Rings out of my head where Sam exclaims, “Oliphants!” in reference to their giant version of elephants, hahaha! Now I know that somewhere in this world, this is an actual word for “elephants.” πŸ˜›

    All these photos are exquisite Cindy! Worthy of being featured somewhere like National Geographic magazine. You’re such a natural at photography! <3 ~Lynn

    1. We were staying in a prime view rondavel and those photos were taken from our porch/kitchen. Traveling this way in Kruger gets you an amazing bang for your buck as the units are very inexpensive, and the view? Well, it can’t be beat!

      1. I had issues with a camera because it was too cold. I can only imagine that combination taking its toll. I hope you have a back up while that one gets repaired. I feel like I’m missing a body part if I’m walking and I don’t have my camera.

      2. The really frustrating part was having a second rate backup to use while I was still in Africa. Each camera had issues. It was sooooooo frustrating to have an amazing animal in front of me and cameras with issues. I used both and snapped shots with each. If I ever went to Africa again, I would go with two pristine cameras, expecting the first would poop out!

      1. Actually they were denser populations further south where there were more herds. I think the lone giraffes are more concerned with predation than the ones in groups, but I am no expert on giraffes. Maybe someone who knows more might read this and tell us more!

  14. You have some wonderful memories of my country… it shows in the photos… brilliant…
    Olifants camp is one we spend a lot of time at… love that look out over the river…

  15. beautiful photos – stopped on over from silkandthreades – you got a shout out! Have a great week and I love the photos of the animals from a land I have never visited.

  16. elmediat

    Excellent compositions. Great shots of African Landscape & wildlife. πŸ™‚

    Especially enjoyed the meandering herd of Hardy Olifants. πŸ˜€

  17. Beautiful fascinating post Cindy, excellent photography, interesting to read the habits of Zebra to have a look out when drinking, enjoyed my journey through your camera.

  18. Hi Cindy,
    I have nominated you for an award -http://aromasandflavours.com/2015/06/18/the-sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/

  19. Good evening Cindy or I suppose good morning where you are. These photos are just magnificent. I so enjoy lingering on your site and absorbing all the beauty of things I would otherwise never be able to experience… and I thank you so very much…
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful artistry with us…
    Hope your day is most beautiful

  20. Stunning. Thanks for the education on the zebras and giraffes. I like how you describe the behavior and then have a photo showing it.

  21. My reader showed the picture of the buffalo but your title for your post was Olifants which had me a bit confused until I actually went into your post and saw the photos of the elephants πŸ™‚

    1. I have no idea why the reader selects what it does. It would be nice if it would go with my first photo. I am glad you bothered to look after the confusion. Cheers to you and thanks too for telling me~

  22. I love photos of giraffes and the beautiful sunset took.my breath away, Cindy. The water buffalo are interesting and I know less about them. Thanks for sharing, Cindy.

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