The forest elephants of Odzala were another highlight of this beautiful park. Mostly solitary, these gentle giants of the forest seemed to walk in the shadows of the trees and moonlight. Sitting out on the deck of our camp, as the moon started to rise and the forest started to fall silent, it was only then that the elephants started to come out into the open bai to drink.
As the night drew in, more started to come out and greeted one another with low grumbles and sometimes high pitched trumpets. Then, just as quickly and quietly, they left, each heading off, each one alone again. I did feel somewhat sad for them, living in such a beautiful place, yet spending most of their time alone.
However, as they headed back into the forest, I thought that perhaps there was something to be said for being alone and then coming together to share your day’s news and experiences in a wonderful way each day. Perhaps this was what made them so majestic – the gentle giants of Africa.
Walking in the forests of Odzala was just as much a part of Odzala as trekking for the gorillas was. The trails and paths in the park have been used for generations by both the wildlife and the local communities who live around the park.
At times, I was walking through thick dense forest and then the next minute was in open savannah, before suddenly coming out into a bai. On one such walk, our guide mentioned that we would be getting a bit wet, but that the water was unlikely to reach our waists. Easy for him to say, I thought – he was about six foot, whilst I am five-foot-nothing. Unsurprisingly, the water indeed went up to my waist. And beyond.
Another highlight of the forest walks was the birding. Although not a birder, I was quite taken aback by the quantity of birds that we saw, and more importantly, how the guide was able to mimic their calls, bringing them closer for us to see.
As I finish typing this, my flight to London is coming in to land. Looking out of the window, I can see the twinkling lights of the city trying to outshine those of Odzala’s fireflies from the night before. Somehow, as beautiful as London is at night, the fireflies of Odzala take first place and I am already longing to return to see their next show.