An iridescent green haze falls over the waterhole as we watch a hippo. Opposite, a breeding herd of elephants are taking a drink and a baby elephant, no older than three weeks, is bounding around, trying so hard to use his trunk in the way his older sister seems to have mastered. The wind starts to pick up and a change of air is felt, even the animals start to look up to the ever changing colours of the African sky.

A storm is brewing and it looks big, very big.

The first drops of rain start to fall and seem to dry almost just as they hit the ground. Impala bark in the distance and the hot, dry earth seems to let out a massive sigh of relief as the rains begin to fall faster and harder. As the sun sets, the green haze turns into a greyish dark cloud with a dazzle of silver lightning. Our ranger has a look of both excitement and apprehension as she tells us we need to finish up the sundowners and return to camp.

As we head off, I look back to check on the baby elephant, he seems to have worked out he can use his trunk to give himself a small mud bath. The wind is getting stronger and the impala have been joined by some kudu who have made their way into the clearing almost as if to suggest they will sit this storm out together. In the distance I see some lions walking away, maybe they are not so brave after all.

As we trundle along the roads of the Sabi Sands the rain and thunder seems to be calming, could this storm be all show and no substance? Arriving in camp it’s dinner time and we discuss the lack of potency of the Storm Gods. Fellow guests are joking with our ranger that African storms are all bark and no bite. I remain silent, I have full respect for the Storm Gods and don’t want to upset them. Out of the corner of my eye I can see the night sky getting brighter with the lightning in the distance. There is also a continuous rumble of thunder. The rain is falling again, and this time it is seems harder and more persistent. Perhaps the Gods have woken from their brief slumber.

Just as I get into my tented chalet for the night the grand opening of what becomes a spectacular show begins, with lightening streaking across the sky and a tremendous beat of thunder following behind. The wind picks up, the rain intensifies and so does the thunder. As I am peering out of my window a lightning bolt hits the earth, a little too close for comfort. I let out a loud yelp and scamper to my bed hiding under the covers like I did when I was five years old. The skies are so bright with lightening I don’t need the lights on and my tented roof is being punished with the tireless wind and rain. The show continues for the next two hours, only with this show there is no intermission.

Someone has clearly upset the Storms Gods tonight.

Finally the winds die down, the rain stops and the Storm Gods are silenced. As I drift off to sleep I wonder if my little elephant friend has survived his first storm. I am hoping I will see him tomorrow so I can tell him to be respectful of the Storm Gods of Africa and not to make them angry.

*As part of our partnership with the World Land Trust, we have offset the carbon emissions (4.37 tonnes) of Bridget’s long haul return flight and we would encourage you to do the same, if you are able.*

Thanks for reading

Author: Bridget Cohen