Ryan headed off for an African Safari. He was really looking for some adventure. Well, he certainly found it. A brush with a bull elephant becoming a significant part of the fun.

 

It was a few years ago when my travelling companion, Trevor, and I went to Africa. We wanted to experience it all over there - the people, Victoria Falls, the food, but most of all, we wanted to do a genuine African animal safari!

 

So we booked one with a local travel agent, and soon enough we were sitting in the back seat of safari Jeep, with some other tourists and a driver named Raphael.

We took off just after lunch. The dry heat was unbearable, but there were plenty of animals to photograph which was a good distraction. All had been going smoothly, Trevor and I had a camera full of photo’s - buffalo, giraffe, a few vultures munching on carcasses and those animals that look like baby deer’s, bounce around and are always the ones getting taken down by bigger animals in nature doco’s...I forget what they are called.

It was a great ride, but we longed for something more exciting. Was it too much to ask for a pride of lions, or some tigers? Anything!

To quench our thirst for excitement, Raphael had told us a story of how a lion once jumped on the back of his jeep and how he lived to tell the tale, but it wasn’t the same as living it yourself. Well, you know what they say, be careful what you wish for...

It was dusk and our safari was coming to an end. On the way back, a gigantic bull elephant stepped it’s gigantic feet into the middle of the dirt road. With dense bush on either side of him, there was no way around. It was a standoff that seemed to take hours. The elephant started to scratch at the ground and make snorting sounds, like an angry bull about to charge at the matador.  We all started to panic, including Raphael. I remember one particularly hysterical women in the back screaming over and over something we were all thinking, “Raphael, please don’t let me die, please don’t let me die!!”

To add to our already frayed nerves, a few minutes before the elephant turned up, another jeep of tourists pulled up to our side. The drivers spoke between them and we overheard them say something about the other jeep having failing brakes.

We caught a break. The elephant decided to go back into the bush for a quick munch on some trees. Now was our chance to get past him, but the other jeep had to go first and couldn’t stop should the elephant come back out in front of them...Glad I wasn’t in that jeep. The elephant wandered back out onto the road, angry as ever.  Jeep 2 narrowly made it through, so close that from where we were sitting they seemed to drive between his legs.

Everyone sat silent...still...not even daring to breathe...all eyes focused on the elephant’s next move. It was getting dark, but it’s massive presence still clearly visible.

I heard the loud sound of everyone in the Jeep exhaling simultaneously, as the elephant once again retreats into the bush, this time the other side of the road. “GO!” – And we were off! My eyes darted from the elephant, to the speedometer, to the elephant again, who was racing alongside us through the bush. Unbelievably he was keeping up with the speeding Jeep. My heart was in my mouth, everyone was crying and screaming. The elephant comes back onto the road behind us and gives chase. The speedometer trembles its way to the red numbers at the end of the clock, the ones you always wished you had the guts to get to when driving your own car.

With baited breath and our necks contorted the wrong way, we watch the elephant fade away into the distance behind us through clouds of orange dust.

That was my first and likely last African Safari!

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