Just 20 minutes into the operation, we heard the screeching of some very distressed elephant nearby. Assuming they had fled into the forest, this caught us a little by surprise. We decided to move to the helicopters and we took off five minutes later, whereupon we watched the bull elephant come to, swing around as if to hit someone, and then dash into the forest. We said goodbye and headed southwest again to the Imatong Mountains, where we spent the night sleeping at a blissful 6,000 ft above the heat of the Boma Plains.
The Imatong Mountains are a remote isolated range that borders Uganda and overlooks the Kidepo Plains to the southeast. The mountains are covered in high-altitude mountain forest full of cycads and butterflies. We found some colobus families too. We flew up valleys that no doubt had rarely been explored before. We set camp in a small village amongst a grove of banana trees, which in turn sat on the saddle of a hill set between two giant peaks. Our landlords were an ancient pair whose son was blind drunk and attempted to bless us by spitting into a gourd and then spraying it on us. We spent a blissful night on the mountain, which for one of our guests reminded him of being a cub scout, and for another represented a first night ever in a tent. I couldn’t have felt prouder.