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Journal 8

11/28/03


I woke at the crack of dawn (4:15am) to participate on the morning walk through the game park. It was one of those decisions that I made without really thinking too much before saying yes. That was my bad... Well even though I was 3/4 asleep when we started, I quickly became awake and alert. Within 10 minutes we saw a cape buffalo real close. The cape buffalo is one of the big five in the South African game parks. The others are Elephant, Rhino, Lion, and Leopard. They are the big five because they are the most dangerous to humans. Later on our walk we saw two giraffes drinking from the mostly dry river, a rhino, warthog, some boks, and many others like birds, dung beetles, etc... over all the three-hour walk before breakfast.

Later in the day, Lyndon, Sara V., Emily M., Trinette, Steph, Joel, and I were out to find some elephants. Well we drove all over for a few good hours and saw jack, but hey the park is big... We had one more loop left to explore before we were supposed to eat and then leave, so we went to check it out. As we rolled up around a bend we saw around 5 or 6 and we were real happy. Then we noticed that in the middle of the road was a freshly pushed over tree, compliments of one of the big elephants that we
are looking at. So, being stupid tourists we decided to drive half around the tree and half through it (cutting me up in the process through the window) just to get a better look at these massive animals.

Now proceeding on the road we ran into a road block of a huge elephant, so we backed up and watched as a good number walked passed. This was making us a little nervous because all of them would look at us as they passed the road, so they all knew we were there. Some of the elephants started to walk toward us down the road and in return we backed up to a little corner sort of bend thing, and realized that not only were the elephants coming towards us from straight ahead, but also on the road behind us. So we were stopped there for about 30 to 40 minutes without being able to go anywhere.

During that time we started to notice that there were a lot more elephants than we thought. There were over 50 elephants either ahead, behind, or to the side of us--some of which as close as 5 meters and they all were within 30 meters of us--so we were trapped. During this time we gave a few of the closest ones names so we knew who to look at when they would come closer. There were mammas and papas with their babies. A quote from Lydnon was, "the big ones don't really care if you’re there, but if you scare the baby, then the mamma freaks out, and if the mamma freaks out,
then the papa freaks out, and if the papa freaks out, then the herd freaks out and you are in trouble."

Around this time we saw an opening on the road from huge massive elephants and we took advantage of it, but not after our van didn’t want to start. That scared the you know what out of all of us... So Lyndon gunned it out and in the process scared most of the elephants near us and in return, a few somewhat charged us, but we were out of harm's way.

So, elephants might look nice pretty and innocent, but they will not hesitate to mess you up if you are in their way or scare their babies. I hope that is will be my one and only near death experience on this trip...Peace out.

- Mac McCutcheon

 

Photos::
(from most to least recent)

Gallery 6

Gallery 6

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

Gallery 3

Gallery 4

Gallery 5