Trip Start Jun 11, 2011
19Trip End Jun 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
I took a cold "hot water" shower when we arrived in camp and returned to our tent. Three zebras wandered into the campsite, just down a small slope from our tent. I turned away from the zebras to go to our tent and get my camera, when I noticed two elephants drinking from the water tank at the opposite end of the site. I grabbed the camcorder and joined the crowd around the elephants.
The furthest elephant was completely oblivious to the crowd of spectators. The closer and larger elephant regarded us as we regarded it. I guess it decided we were not very interesting because it returned to its drinking and eating the grass around the water tank and completely ignored us. Suddenly it stopped what it was doing and walked purposefully toward the tent at the front of the first line of tents. I could not see what had the elephant's attention at that point but suddenly it started flapping its ears and looking pissy. Then it charged at the line of tents. The crowd scattered, running and screaming for their lives. I was directly in the elephant's path so I turned on my heel to run and twisted my ankle. I didn't go very far when I noticed the elephant was charging at some dogs near the tent and now that the dogs had scattered, the elephant was walking leisurely through the campsite. The scattered crowd laughed together with overwhelming relief at still being alive.
The dogs cleverly ran far away from the first elephant - but stupidly directly toward the second elephant. The small elephant likes dogs as much as the larger elephant, it seems, because this one also started flapping his ears then gave a less dramatic charge directed at the dogs. The large elephant had now joined the zebras down the hill and the small elephant resumed his drinking for awhile before leaving camp
Talks of our near death experience with the charging elephants lasted well after nightfall. Being the last night of our camping trip, our guides built us a warm bonfire and our group of 14 plus Mosses, the GAP Adventures CEO, and some stragglers from other groups gathered around and relived some of the highlights of our safari trip. It was a very cool night on the rim of the crater, and the fire and beers kept us warm. We have a very early start to our day tomorrow, but nobody was interested in going to bed.
I don't know how long it was there before we noticed, but someone got up to go to the washroom and changed their mind when they saw another elephant taking a drink from the water tank. Once the elephant was gone I left the large crowd around the bonfire and took a quick break in the restroom. When I came back, all but three people had disappeared.
I asked what happened and Mosses told me to listen for a minute. The camp was completely silent. There was no indication that 5 minutes earlier, 20 people had been talking and singing along with a guitar player in this very camp. It was more like a ghost town now. I listened, and heard the loud, throaty roar of a lion in the distance. Another roar soon followed. The bonfire crowd had also heard it, and when Mosses estimated the lions to be less than a kilometre from the camp, they quickly scattered and hid in their tents. I soon followed.
I woke during the night a few times. The first time I was scared out of my mind. I heard grass being torn and chewed directly outside the front of our tent. I was sure the elephants had come back and thought if I make any noise or even if it just turns around, I will be trampled where I lie. As I calmed down I realized the grass was being torn in front of the tent and directly beside it, and it was being eaten much too quickly to be an elephant. Then I heard low snorting noises, coming from another direction, and realized we had a herd of zebras mowing the lawn of the campsite. I wanted to look outside my tent but worried that I would startle them and the entire herd would scatter into our tents. I heard braver souls opening their tents though.
The next time I woke, I heard the bush pigs tearing into our garbage bins. Thankfully they stayed away from our tents! The last thing that woke me was the roar of lions, much closer than they sounded before we went to bed. I tried to relax knowing park rangers were guarding our campsite as we slept.