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In South Africa, there are a slew of immersive experiences that expose safari-goers to the incredible wildlife many of us only see at the zoo. But few compare to the close encounter Mhondoro Lodge guests had with a trio of elephants who turned one of the property’s swimming pools into their personal watering hole.

A tour guide, Ivan Ueckermann, captured stunning footage that shows two of the three elephants dunking their trunks into the pool, seemingly unfazed by the humans lounging just feet away.

South Africa’s dry season typically runs from April until October, meaning the rivers and waterholes the elephants normally drink from in Kruger National Park are less plentiful.

Ueckermann told the Daily Mail how the experience gave insight into the dynamics between these animals.

“We learn[ed] so much about these amazing creatures and their behavior, how they react to one another, which ones dominate the pool [and keep] the others at bay.”

The Mhondoro Lodge is well known for helping guests observe the incredible wildlife in the national park. The resort even has a so-called Waterhole Hide: a discrete lookout accessed through a 213-foot-long concrete tunnel attached to the lodge from which visitors can watch the animals in their natural habitat without intruding. Spectators often spot baboons, warthogs and elephants cooling off at the waterhole.

But the poolside elephant encounter was far more intimate than most, even for Ueckermann, who is no stranger to observing these animals in the park. “Just enjoying the sounds they make when they drink the water and communicate, or seeing textures of their skin and super long eyelashes,” made the experience truly unique for Ueckermann, he explained.

This isn’t the first account of an elephant drinking from a pool in Kruger National Park. Mhondoro’s website features several photos of elephants imbibing from the on-site swimming pools.

Photo courtesy of Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa
Photo courtesy of Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa

Another small herd of elephants, including one baby, was spotted in 2016 drinking from the pool at Kambaku River Sands in a private nature reserve as well. 

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