“If an elephant or lion charges you the important thing to do is stand still.” The warning might have seemed overly dramatic if not being delivered by a man carrying a very large rifle on his shoulder and standing beside a Maasai warrior carrying a six-foot spear.
This morning we had a luxurious breakfast and then spent four hours on a game drive. We seem to be being very lucky by all accounts. In amongst many, many other sightings we had a herd of bull elephants meander within inches of our vehicle, and we saw giraffes fighting. The giraffes fight by bashing their necks into each other making a meaty, booming thunk.
Being in the car doesn’t come with any safety warnings though. The warning came with the walk we went on this evening. Although the warning and the weaponry drove home that there was some risk involved, honestly the top of mind issue was avoiding tick-mites which are small, insidious and carry tick-mite fever which you really don’t want to get. Our guide neglected to mention any of this until we were well away from camp so we were really more worried about tiny predators than large ones.
Here’s what we learnt on our walk: African animals are scared of people on foot but not in cars. So although we did see game, the viewing was honestly much better from the vehicle. That said there was something wonderful about being out in the African bush, miles from anywhere. Because we’re in the Conservancy, not the national park, the four of us are literally the only visitors in several hundred square kilometres. That makes for a lot of silence and unbroken vistas.
Which is not to say we’re exactly roughing it. After a very interesting walk we followed an escarpment above a river bed, and turned a corner to find our waiter ready with gin and tonics. So we sat on the edge of the escarpment watching the sun go down behind the walls of the rift valley with elephants ripping at he trees beneath us while sipping cold drinks. This life could grown on you.