The bull elephant seemed to glower at us from just a short distance away. Reginald eased the jeep door open a few inches, not for the first time. The elephant stomped his feet and advanced a little, and Reginald hurriedly shut the door again. Clearly the elephant was not going to let him out of the vehicle without charging.
Sitting in the back seat Chris and I looked at each other nervously. Would the first day of our first ever safari end in disaster?
The day had started so well. After a comfortable first night’s stay at our simple hotel near the airport in Arusha, we had been picked up by Reginald to set off on a week’s safari visiting Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire national parks in Tanzania. But first we were to make a short visit to Lake Manyara.
We drove along dusty roads and into the park. Immediately we were charmed to see a troop of baboons by the roadside and a couple of giraffe eating from nearby bushes. Then as we drove further into the park Reginald suddenly pulled up and reversed a few yards. His sharp eyes had spotted what we had missed, a large elephant among the trees to our right.
By reversing he had placed us in the perfect spot from which to get some great photos. But he had also managed to let one of the rear tyres slip off the road into a small ditch; and when he tried to pull away the jeep wouldn’t move! He had a jack in the boot so knew he could easily raise the vehicle enough to be able to get going again – if only the elephant would let him. But each time he tried the bull came a little closer and looked ever more threatening.
Fortunately help was at hand. Reginald radioed a fellow guide he knew to be in the vicinity. That guide drove over to our location; and while he and the tourists with him provided distraction for the elephant (and no doubt those tourists got some great photos of their own), Reginald was able to quickly get out, lift the jeep a little, and drive out of the ditch. Thanks were radioed across to our saviour and we were able to continue our drive.
After that eventful start our first safari went smoothly and was an excellent experience. We loved the setting of our lodge on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater and our explorations of the crater floor. And we had a wonderful stay in Tarangire, in a camp on the edge of an escarpment overlooking the river where elephants came to drink and bathe. We also visited a Maasai village and a local school.
At the end of the week Reginald saw us off at Arusha Airport, from where we flew to spend the second half of our holiday on Zanzibar Island. But that is a story for another post perhaps.
Meanwhile here is a small gallery of images from that first safari to share for the second week of Sandy’s Flashback Friendly Friday challenge. They are scanned from 35 mm slides so the quality isn’t of the best, but they conjure up great memories of the trip when I first fell for the safari experience – and for elephants!
I visited Tanzania in 1999