The Day I Got Charged by an Elephant

May 01, 2020  •  1 Comment

The Day I Got Charged by an Elephant

Elephant-Herd-under-Baobab-TanzaniaElephant-Herd-under-Baobab-TanzaniaAn elephant herd enjoys the shade of a beautiful baobab tree in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment.

As many of you know, last November I was lucky enough to land a photo assignment in Africa which included the safari experience of a lifetime! We spent the better part of a week in Tanzania observing and photographing animals in the wild. The one animal we saw every day was the elephant. Herds of elephants! It was wildlife photographer paradise!

 

At first, I was amazed by how casually they seemed to walk right past our safari vehicles without a care in the world. Elephant-Crossing-TanzaniaElephant-Crossing-TanzaniaAn elephant crosses the road near a safari vehicle in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa while photographers take pictures from the roof. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on photo assignment.

 

Many of them were tinged with the reddish orange color of the soil.

Elephant-Tarangire-TanzaniaElephant-Tarangire-TanzaniaA wild elephant covered in red dust from the soil in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Photographed on assignment by Cheryl Bigman Photography.

 

Tarangire National Park's lush green landscape and beautiful Baobab trees made the perfect setting to photograph all the wildlife. Those babies... SO CUTE!

Elephant-Family-with-Baobab-TreesElephant-Family-with-Baobab-TreesAn elephant family passes by beautiful baobab trees and lush green landscape in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. By Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment.

 

We were even lucky enough to stumble upon a playful group of adolescent elle's splashing about in a watering hole. Quite entertaining!

Elephant-Swimming-Hole-Tanzania-1Elephant-Swimming-Hole-Tanzania-1Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

Mama's watching... Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-2Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-2Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

Snorkling anyone? Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-3Elephant-Swimming-Tanzania-3Juvenile elephants play in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

The last to get out, this little guy had a full on temper tantrum complete with trumpeting when the adults told him, "Time to go!". Elephant-Swimming-TanzaniaElephant-Swimming-TanzaniaJuvenile elephant plays in a swimming hole in Tarangirie National Park, Tanzania, Africa. Captured by Cheryl Bigman Photography while on a photo assignment with Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps.

 

By the end of our safari, we all fell in love with the elephants!

But then...

 

The Moment my Heart Stopped!

My travel buddy and I were running a bit late to catch our flight out of Tanzania, so our guide Victor offered to drive us to the airport in his own personal car.

But before we could get out of the park, we hit a BIG roadblock... an elephant! She was happily snacking on a bush while standing in the middle of the road.

 

The video you're about to see pretty much says it all. In the beginning, it was funny. Victor was talking to the driver of the safari vehicle right next to us about what we should do. At one point you can hear him say, "Twende" which means "Let's Go" in swahili.

But the driver was too afraid to pass, so we all just parked.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited for this elephant to move off the road. Time was ticking away!

 

Finally, Victor decided we needed to try something else to get this elle out of our way. Elephants have very poor eyesight, but they can hear from 2.5 miles away! So began the clapping.

 

What happened next was one of the most heart-stopping moments of my life.

Here's the video I managed to shoot with my phone... go Full Screen, Sound ON!
 

 

I can't even explain how HUGE this elephant looked as she came at us in our little Toyota. It's times like these when having an expert guide like Victor is invaluable! I'm sure he knew all along it was most likely a fake charge (right Victor?), and thankfully the elephant never actually hit us.

But damn, she came close!

 

And then she went right back to enjoying her bush (and blocking the road), giving us a few side eyes before finally crossing the road.

 

So then What Happened?

What you don't see is when the other vehicle's driver decided to "go for it", and drive around us and the elephant. All I saw was the back end of this enormous beast chasing down the safari vehicle at a speed I could have never imagined. I think I was so freaked out by being charged, I didn't have the presence of mind to keep recording!

 

You Cannot Put a Price on Experience 

Needless to say, I have a whole new respect for the "wild" in the word "wildlife"! And how important it is to do your research when booking a safari like this. There are a LOT of safari companies out there with less experienced guides who do not have the same level of knowledge about animal behavior as Victor and his team at TopGuides Bush Camps and TopGuides Safaris have. I completely trusted them to keep everyone safe while getting us close enough to capture amazing photographs.

 

Guides-Topguides-Safaris-TanzaniaGuides-Topguides-Safaris-TanzaniaThe talented guides from Topguides Safaris and Topguides Bush Camps in Tanzania, Africa pose for a portrait during the last sundowner of our safari in Tarangire National Park. By Cheryl Bigman photography.

 

When are you Going Back to Africa, Cheryl?

Well.... before worldwide travel came to a screeching halt, I was offered the opportunity to take my own group of travelers on an African safari with Victor and his team! I had just started the process of putting together the trip of a lifetime for a small select group - a truly custom boutique travel experience. I honestly can't think of anything more enjoyable than sharing the incredible experience of being together on safari! Those of you who have already done it know exactly what I'm talking about. Africa is just one of those places that calls you back again and again!

 

With some patience, we will all get back to traveling to our dream destinations once again. And I will definitely be back to Africa, sharing the experience with some of you!

 

 

What's on Your Bucket List?

NOW is actually a great time to revisit your own "bucket list" of travel destinations! My list is a long one, but my #1 dream trip is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda! (I know, I'm a little crazy.)

 

Tell me what's on your list in the Comments!

 

Below is a list of questions to help you start planning your next dream vacation.

 

Until we can travel again, please stay healthy and safe!

Much love,

Cheryl

 

 

Questions to Think about when Planning your Next Travel Experience:

What time of year can you travel and for how long?

Will you travel with kids or adults only? What ages?

Do you want a high-end, mid-range, or low-budget experience?

What level of activity are you comfortable with?

What destinations intrigue you?

What are your interests?

  • art & culture
  • architecture
  • history
  • immersive experience with the locals
  • wildlife
  • volunteerism/conservation
  • adventure/sports
  • guided tours vs. on your own
  • foodie trips
  • wine experiences
  • solo travel

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