I FINALLY downloaded photos from our South African trip during April. Nearly two months later…mmm. I have one roll of B&W film taken with my Russian Zorki 4K 1970’s camera and I’ll take this off for processing soon. Meanwhile, over the next few posts, I’ll post some photos but….first…the elephant story.

We spent four days at the Pestana Kruger Lodge, just outside the gates of the Kruger National Park. Because my mother-in-law came with us, we booked a mini-lodge – it had two huge bedrooms with ensuites plus a swimming pool. Breakfast and dinner were served in the Buhlebethu restaurant located within the Lodge and with a fantastic view of the Crocodile River.

This isn’t what I want to tell you about though. Nope. This story is about one heck of a big bull elephant and how I thought my number might well have been up. We went on an early morning safari tour starting at 6.30am. El Hubs and I have been to the Kruger a couple of times and we’ve been fortunate enough to see the Big Five. But we hadn’t been to the Kruger for a few years and thought it would be a gentle tour for my mother-in-law (since you sit in an open safari truck for a few hours whilst looking for the Big Five).

That morning, we struck it lucky – zebra, rhino, hippo, hyena, giraffe, leopard, elephants. We had just spotted a leopard and were driving slowly down some road in the Kruger when we came across a large herd of elephants. There was a cute baby elephant in the middle of the herd and then we caught a whiff of an overpowering smell. This turned out to be musk, which the bull excretes from a gland behind its eyes. This lets the females know there’s a man on the prowl. It also means the bull can get quite edgy and aggressive.

There were eight people in our safari truck. I was up the back with El Hubs and my mum-in-law. Our driver stated the obvious – the smell and that bull elephant up ahead of us equals a possibly dangerous situation, we’ll proceed slowly. Up come another three safari trucks and they surround the agitated bull, who is trying to make his way down the road. We were all pretty surprised that these trucks were getting so close to the bull. Our driver had stopped the truck but we were in the bull’s path, so he said we’d wait and see what the bull might do.

Yeah great. I was already contemplating my escape – should I ditch over the side of the truck and take my chances that I wouldn’t meet up with that hungry-looking leopard we’d just seen down the road? Or should I wait in the truck to see whether the bull would turn us into road pizza?

The elephant came closer and the smell was pretty yuk. The other trucks kept going backwards and forwards so that tourists could get photos. We were all pretty quiet in our safari truck. Our driver was not taking any chances – he wasn’t inching forward and was clearly considering how to get out of this situation.

The bull continued ambling down the road. Then, one of the other trucks, moved forward (idiots!) and the bull turned around aggressively, moved towards the truck but then dashed into a bush. Our driver took this opportunity to whizz by the bull. As we powered by, El Hubs was on the side of the truck closest to the elephant. Truck and elephant were in close proximity and I thought I saw El Hubs turn a couple of shades whiter. He kept his wits about him though and even managed to take a snap.

The very next day, we heard at the lodge that a Chinese woman and a Polish man had a close encounter with an elephant. We were told that it was a bull elephant that overturned and basically flattened the car the couple were travelling in. I have no doubt in my mind that, if it was a bull, it was the very same bull elephant we had seen the day before.

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Reeking of musk and on the prowl for females, the bull elephant makes his way down the road.

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As we approached the elephant, he was starting to lift his ears.

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And then the bull was charging out of the bushes. El Hubs was in the line of fire, being on the side of the truck closer to the bull. He kept his calm and took a photo. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best!!

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