Today was the day of our elephant stand-off. Here’s what I wrote back then:

The elephant story: We probably weren’t ten minutes from our camp yesterday morning when we came upon a grazing elephant. Abu (our guide) thought he seemed agitated, so we stopped for some picture taking and to just scope him out. Soon we noticed three other elephants behind him. It seemed they wanted to cross the road, and he was uncomfortable with us being so close. So, I wouldn’t say he “charged” us per se, but he did give enough of an aggressive action for Abu to tell us to sit down and he backed away some. We sat to wait while the “girls” crossed the road. About that time I noticed another elephant coming behind us. At that point we had elephants on the left, the right and behind us. Apparently, that’s not such a great place to be, because we backed up even more to sit and wait. It was probably 30 minutes we sat at this impasse. Stuck between the camp and the park. Eventually, the aggressive elephant crossed the road and we shot across behind him. It was quite the way to start our day!

Now from hindsight. It was a totally awesome experience. Years from now, when I remember the “trip to Africa” I will remember it was a great trip, but story I will tell will be about the elephants. I think I worried about our safety for a fraction of a second when I saw the elephant coming from behind. We were literally surrounded. But, Abu backed us up more and everything was fine again.

We were pretty thrilled. To be this close. To have an elephant challenge us. He was a behind a bush and started to push through, flapping his ears. It was like something you might see on TV.

Abu was very watchful. It’s because of him that I felt safe. I knew he would get us out of there in a heartbeat if needed. It wasn’t until we were on our way that I realized Abu had been awfully quiet compared to his very nervous hee-hee-hee-hee-hee laugh as we drove away.

Anyway, I was so enthralled by the action I took three pictures. Three! What was I thinking??

Friday was another day in Tarangire Park. I really enjoyed this park. There were animals everywhere. I took today to mostly watch.

There were many times as we drove that I thought, “This could be Jeff’s ranch in Dripping Springs.” Yep, looked a lot like Texas. Except for the elephants. And giraffes. And lions.

Most of the tour drivers are very good about sharing information about what they’ve seen. We came up to one truck with the driver really talking very seriously. It was in Swahili, so we could only guess what he was saying. (I thought he was saying, “OH. MY. GOD. These people are driving me crazy!”)

We queried Abu about it and he teased that the guests always think they are talking about us. We told him that he seemed mad with is tone, facial expressions and hand gestures. It turns out that he was telling Abu where to find a pride of lions. Eventually we just got used to the exchanges and would just ask, “What’d he see?”

The lion pride. Once we got to where the lions were supposed to be, we were all peeling our eyes watching because the grass was tall-ish, really masking where they might be. Suddenly Sarah said, “Oh! Abu! Back up a second.” It was a whisper and she was so calm. But when he stopped we saw her.

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

She was mere feet from the truck, yet we’d driven past her and six other simbas. It was an awesome moment. We were so stunned to be so close. She paid little mind to us. Looking at us before eventually going back to sleep. Our first lion.

At some point during the day, we passed a recent kill. The skull and bones were picked clean, but the bloodstain was still vivid.

Eventually we came upon a herd of African Buffalo. Like many of the other animals, they were skittish and started to scamper away, but they stopped. And watched us as intently was we watched them.

We had lunch viewing a huge swamp that was green and gorgeous, and home to some elephants. I have to say, we saw way more elephants than I expected. It never got old. That first spotter would call out “Elephants!” and there’s be a quick gasp from us all as we crained our necks to catch a glimpse.

We got into a good habit of using the clock as a locator. We also learned some of us can tell time better than others.

I’d read beforehand that there might be many trucks of tours roaming the park and vying for the best viewing spots. We had none of that here. We saw a handful of trucks, usually going in the opposite direction as us.

Back at camp:

Allison and Carmen

And here’s our shower water being warmed.