The Elephant Hug

Our daughter Elle shot this during lunch at an elephant sanctuary in Botswana’s sprawling Okavango Delta a while back.

Whenever I’ve shown this image, the first reaction people have is that it’s photoshopped. Once I’ve convinced them that it’s not, they then ask how we dared let such an incredibly large and potentially dangerous animal get so close to us.

While definitely one of my life’s most humbling experience, up there with diving with great white sharks outside of Cape Town, we were never frightened or worried. The sanctuary’s three elephants were orphans and at least partially brought up by humans. So beautiful. So friendly.

I’ve been fortunate to have met dozens of elephants over the years in Asia and Africa, none as close as during this amazing bush lunch, though. A few days after this lunch, we saw a herd of elephants that our guide estimated to have about 100 members. That too was a surreal experience. I feel like I need to hug an elephant again.

Yala! Yala!

3:00: Vakna, borsta tänderna, klä på shorts, t-shirt, känger, hämta frukostpåse i repan, in i minibussen, nerför kusten, in i Yala National Park, upp i jeepen, plåta fåglar, vattenbuffel, krokodil, leopard, elefant, ur jeepen och in i lunchen, tillbaka till minibussen, uppför kusten, kliva in i hotellet, upp till rummet, in i duschen, middag, sova. 22:04.