We arrive at Ngoma - the border between Botswana and Caprivi Strip. Floodwaters from Angola have filled the floodplains, catching the evening light and reflecting bright silver behind dark tree shapes.
The sun is gone. In the blink of an eye it is dark. Deep velvet darkness lit only by starlight. A scops owl chirps his rhythmic call and crickets fill in the background sound. The stage is set - let the night begin. Enter left a thirsty buffalo bull heading down the well worn path to water. In the distance an elephant screams and growls - unearthly sounds that leave a vaccuum when they stop. The ensuing silence brings its own tension and we listen for lion, or leopard - the super predators that own the night.
We hunker down in the comfort of our canvas walled hut, pulling up the blankets against the early winter chill. Night air moves freely over our faces through the large gauze windows that keep the insect mayhem at bay. We drift gently away to sleep.
Hours later - I am awake. The moon is up. Though sliced in half it is already as bright as day without the colour. Branches snap and break all around us. Elephants are feeding here. The sound of soft footfalls, and thorn brush scaping leathery hide tell me they are very close, but among the broken shadows of the monochrome landscape and behind the bushes, they are almost invisible. I can hear the wetness of their mouths chewing, but I cannot see them.
The munching and crunching sounds intensify and soon we are surrounded by a breeding herd of elephants. Trunks curl into the moonlight stripping the branches of leaves. Droppings fall softly, wetly, steaming in giant piles that look like fresh bran muffins.
Elephant flatulence fills the air. The sound of it - the miasma that follows the sound. Elephant smells replace the soft fragrant night air that washes over us. So this is how it feels to be in the middle of the herd.
There is a throaty rumble from the matriarch that calls the herd, and one by one they drift off down the ravine, and we drift off to sleep again.