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Elephant Charges & Hits Boat

An idyllic river-safari almost turned into a fatal head-on-head crash during peak-hour on the Chobe-river…

Su-an Müller-Marais, radio and TV presenter at GROOTfm 90.5 and Die Groot Ontbyt (KykNet, DSTV channel 144) told“We were spoilt to visit the beautiful Kasane area in Northern Botswana in celebration of my mother-in-law’s 60’th birthday. We were driving on the river, looking out for wildlife, when we came across a bunch of boats circling around an elephant wading in the river. We slowed down and shut off the engine so it wouldn’t bother the elephant. The Chobe-river was in full flood and the strong current pulled us very close to the elephant. We could hear the elephant plucking, chewing and breathing. We were cautious but in awe of this magnificent animal in front of us. I barely started recording this when the elephant charged!

We were very scared when the bull came charging and we didn’t hear the engine start to drive away, but our experienced guide knew better. The rumbling engine would have probably upset the elephant even more and then we might not have lived to share the story. The elephant pushed our boat away and we drifted off with wet pants, in absolute disbelief of what just happened versus what could have happened.

“A lucky shot almost became an unlucky spot,” I thought. We were in shock, awe and relieved at the same time that everyone was safe and the boat in one piece. I even congratulated my mother-in-law again on her birthday “from all the Chobe-elephants.” I was of course sarcastic, but really thankful to literally celebrate her life (and ours) because her birthday could easily have been her last day.

Our visit to Kasane left us with renewed respect for animals and a deeper passion for Creation. It was an honour to experience the abundance of life and the cleanliness of a country that welcomes tourists with open arms, because they are proud of their land and they know how much tourism means for their economy.


It may seem obvious to “stay in the boat… whatever happens,” like our guide said, but in that moment it’s hard to fight your fight/flight instincts. Luckily our well-informed guide knew exactly what he was doing. We only had to try to stay calm and wet your pants in silence (or slowly grab the expensive bottle of whiskey, like my sister-in-law instinctively did. 😉

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