Visitors got their money’s worth when a herd of elephants popped out of the bush for a drink in a private swimming pool on the exclusive Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
More than 60 beautiful creatures decided to use the resort’s swimming pool, taking turns drinking from it three at a time.
Rangers and visitors at the resort got a close-up view of the wildlife when professional guide Mark Lautenbach took these amazing photos.
Lautenbach, 30, who took the pictures, has been a guide at the resort for the past eight years.
He said the elephants initially came to use a nearby waterhole, but then they turned their attention to the lodge.
“This morning, after a fairly quiet game drive, I had breakfast with the guests and headed to a rangers meeting on the south side of the reserve,” he wrote online.
‘The lodge I’m working at – The Homestead – has a beautiful open plan deck, a small gym with two rooms on either side, and a deck pool overlooking a small waterhole.
“While I was away, something very spectacular happened, and I was lucky enough to be back in time to take some pictures.”
‘The view from the guesthouse is quite open with a dense forest beyond the waterhole, but at around 11 o’clock that morning, a herd of elephants emerged from the woodlands and came to drink at the waterhole – an ordinary but special place for guest rights at Homestead,’ he added.
“What we didn’t expect was that right behind them, another herd came, then another and another.
“They all went to the small waterhole, now depleted at a rapid rate, and found there was only mud.
“Instead of moving to find water elsewhere, they had a mud wallow then turn their attention to the lodge pool.
“By the time I had arrived, there were over 60 elephants around the lodge drinking from the pool two or three at a time.
“They don’t have the right to drink before soaking in the mud, turning the water a cloudy brown before drinking half the water in the pool.”
“The elephants can drink an average of 100 liters of water per day,” explained Lautenbach.
“With more than 60 elephants easily swimming in the clear blue waters of the Homestead pool, they must have drunk more than 6,000 liters of water in one sitting.”
Apparently, the elephants spent about three hours drinking and socializing around the lodge before disappearing back into the bushes.
He said: ‘I can’t say it’s as if they’ve never been here.
‘It looked like a beach party in Thailand after a full moon with piles of stinky, half-digested manure littering the front of the hostel and a few buckets of dirty muddy water at the bottom of the pool.
“The deck was splattered with mud, and grass covered the ground.”