We stopped at Tembe Elephant Park for a quick look. The park is only open to 10 vehicles a day and all must be 4 wheel drive. As soon as we got in the park we saw a sign that said to put it in 4WD here. Tembe like all the parks that have lion or leopard do not allow you to get out of your car once you are in the park and for some 4WD vehicles you need to get out and manually lock the hubs on the front wheels. I went into 4WD but soon found out that the very deep sand throughout the park also means you need to lower the air pressure in your tires down to about 15 or 20 psi- which I had not done. Now the question was do I get out and risk a lion attack while letting air out of my tires, or risk getting stuck somewhere and then have to get out and first let the air out of the tires and then try to get unstuck. Recalling the buffalo carcass we had seen eaten by lions, then vultures, then hyenas a few days earlier I decided to stay in the car and risk getting stuck. This meant driving as fast as possible- too fast for the conditions- and skidding left , right, left continually in the deep sand ruts. After an exciting hour of this we got to a safe place to stop and get out – letting the tire pressure down had an instant effect and I could drive slowly and sanely without risk of bogging down. But we still had not seen any elephant and were a bit disappointed. We were also lost as the 10 or 12 sand tracks though the park were not particularly well labeled. Finally we got headed towards where a ranger had thought the elephants might be and we were soon rewarded beyond expectations. We first saw a few elephants crossing the road in front of us, then a few more, then more. Pretty soon we were parked with over a dozen elephants on each side of us, some very close to the truck. We watched the western group of about 15 playing in a waterhole. The day continued like this with sighting of up to 30 elephant at a time all within a dozen yards of us.
As we went to leave the park we encountered a lone mother with baby walking on the road in front of us. As soon as she heard our engine she swung around in a quick 180 facing us and started to shake her head and pound her feet- we had been much closer to the large herds at times but even though we were over 100 feet away this mama was having none of it. She mock charged and I started the engine and quickly reversed. What then ensued was a standoff. We waited and waited but the pair never showed any inclination of leaving the sandy road. Finally we agreed she had the right of way and we turned around driving 10 or 12 slow sandy kilometers out of our way until we found another route back to the main gate.