You guys, there is nothing cuter than a baby elephant that doesn’t know how to use its trunk yet.

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Elephants usually master their trunks at about 1 month of age, which means this little guy is probably about 3 weeks old (according to our guide). While his mother elegantly sucks water into her trunk, then tips her head back to pour it into her mouth, her little guy does, well, this.

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Yeah, he’s pretty much just jamming his face into the puddle and hoping for the best.

Also cute: a baby elephant (same one) scratching his nose.

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And for our final cute: a baby elephant (same one) who is too afraid of crocodiles to cross the water with the rest of the herd, so his mother has to take him aaaaallll the way around to a land crossing.

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After watching him for about 20 minutes, every single one of us (even the guide) wanted to take that baby elephant home.

Even though we saw a TON of elephants over the course of our safari, somehow they never got old. Unlike the antelope. Or even the giraffes and hippos. I think it’s because elephants seem to have so much personality. They react to the cars, they interact with each other. They shake their heads. They trumpet. When they open their mouths, they look like they’re smiling.

The only other adventure/wilderness trip that Andy and I have been on was in 2011 when we visited the Galapagos islands. Though the two places are like apples and oranges, we couldn’t help comparing them. Both are filled with beauty beyond imagining. The landscapes, the wildlife, the culture. The sky.

I think the biggest difference I noticed was that the Galapagos feels much more… nurturing. It’s always wet and lush, and the animals are of a “friendlier” variety. Sea lions, turtles, lizards, penguins, finches, and fish. (Okay, yes, and sharks.)

But Botswana, at least during dry season, is a harsh place. The grasses get so dry that wildfires start spontaneously. So many of the plants have thorns that elephants have evolved to just eat them. And then there are the lions, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, and crocodiles roaming to kill.

Life versus survival.

Of course, a balance of both exists no matter where you go. But one definitely seemed a more dominant theme in Galapagos, and whereas the other prevailed in Botswana. Just an interesting observation — one of many in our travels.

11 responses to “Tales from Botswana: Life vs. survival”

  1. Shari Avatar

    Just from looking at your pictures, *I* want to bring home a baby elephant! Oh my gosh, SO ADORABLE. That must’ve been one of your favorite parts of the trip!

  2. Mary Avatar

    I found the same thing about elephants to be true when we went to Kenya/Tanzania. When we first got there, we were all excited about seeing wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, etc. Elephants were just one thing of many cool things.

    But pretty soon, you realize that while all those other animals are exotic, they don’t really do much. Elephants are fascinating to watch because of their interactions with each other and with the world around them.

    Watching big cats is almost that cool, except that they spend a lot more time sleeping. :)

    And yeah, totally wanted to take a baby elephant home. We saw one that was probably about that young, as well as a whole bunch of others that were only a little bit older. We even got to meet a few at a wildlife orphanage in Nairobi. They played soccer!

  3. Becky Wallace Avatar

    Elephants are my favorite animals ever. I love these pictures like I love pics of my own babies!

  4. Elissa J. Hoole Avatar

    I love elephants so much, and I think I died three times looking at your pictures. So. Freaking. Cool.

  5. Natalia Sylvester (@NataliaSylv) Avatar

    OMG omg omg Baby Elephant! I’m sorry, I could barely focus on anything else after seeing his dip his head in the puddle!

  6. Angie Avatar

    I know you wrote this post specifically for me :)

  7. Juliann Avatar

    These pictures are incredible. I agree that it would be hard to get tired of watching elephants. And I’ve never even had the chance to find out! But they seem fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Margot Avatar

    I am so in love with all your photos and your thoughts on your travels. MORE MORE!

  9. Kristan Avatar

    Aww, thanks, you guys.

    Definitely was.

    SOCCER! Omg I want a baby soccer-playing elephant so bad now…

    LOL. I won’t tell if you don’t.

    “I died three times” – hee!

  10. linda Avatar

    haha, TOO CUTE!!! :D thanks for sharing all these great photos!

  11. mandy Avatar

    I also died three times looking at that baby elephant. So much cute!! It’s like a puppy who can’t run across a hardwood floor without his legs sliding out to the side. OMG, imagine a baby elephant doing that. I just died again.