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Safari

Ed Lewis is a retired Early Childhood Education Professor who loves adventure travel. He has explored the length of the Amazon River, lived in a cave in the Canary Island for 6 months, kayaked with Killer Whales in the San Juan Islands, and danced with the Duke of Arundel's daughter in jolly ol' England. He is a storyteller for adult and children's audiences. 

Ten years ago, I found "TRUE LOVE" for the 50th time. It was love at first sight! We had so much in common: attending live theatre, sampling the world's cuisine at a variety of restaurants, and experiencing adventure traveling.

Our first trip together was to Aspen, Colorado to feast with Beth's sister who was having her last dinner service and closing her beloved Japanese restaurant after 31 years. We had an unbelievable feast with exotic sushi, a whole mouth-watering Atlantic salmon, and spectacular desserts. Our bill for the eight of us was $1,200. Fortunately, it was on the house. We did leave a huge tip though.

The highlight for me was meeting Beth's niece, Chloe. She was married to a South African man and together they owned 5 Safari Resorts throughout Africa that had jeep and walking tours. I raptly listened as she told us about the amazing 1,200-mile GREAT MIGRATION of African animals following food and water sources from Tanzania to Kenya shortly after the birthing season.

It is estimated that the migration includes 1.5 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, 3000 lions, 5,000 elephants, and so many more prey and predators. Of course, these animals have to cross the many rivers where the huge African Crocodiles up to 20 feet in length are waiting for a meal. You may have seen pictures and videos of this wild and desperate crossing.

Chloe casually asked us if we wanted to stay for free at their resort which was at the edge of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania which was a World Heritage Site. Six months later we were on a jeep for 5 days of breathtaking photography deep into the Serengeti. The jeep had a raised platform for viewing and the sights were spectacular!

Being the birthing season, we saw Cheetah families with the parents racing at up to 70 mph to bring down an Antelope and transport it back to their young offspring. Giraffes lumbered slowly through the Savannah and jungles, looking down at our tiny jeep.

We could barely wait for the fifth day because we were going to visit the Katuma River where we could safely view wildebeest from a raised platform while they attempted to cross the alligator-infested waters. Our guide told us that the only dangerous part was a ¼ mile hike through the jungle before reaching the platform. He assured us that as long as we followed his guidelines, we would be safe.

 

 


 

 

RULE #1: KEEP TOGETHER!

RULE #2: If a predator appears on the path or near us: LOOK DOWN. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT! Staring at a predator could be seen as a challenge.

RULE #3: When confronted by a predator, MAKE YOURSELF AS LARGE AS POSSIBLE.

RULE #4. DO NOT RUN!

RULE #5: DON'T WORRY! It is unlikely any predator will come after such a large crowd.

After traveling about 10 miles we parked the jeep next to the jungle. As we entered the thick jungle on a clearly marked path, I was mesmerized by all the colorful bird life and numerous monkeys traveling along the upper canopy pathway. It was like there was a freeway at the top of the trees.

I used my telephoto lens to capture some amazing pictures and I never wanted to leave this exotic place. That is when I realized that I didn't hear any of my traveling companions. Looking back at the trail I didn't see anyone. I heard their voices down by the river and quickly ran to catch up.

And that is when the magic happened. The cutest baby elephant stepped on to the path and looked at me. My camera was out in a flash and I snapped so many precious pictures. I was amazed that the baby didn't move. It was as if it was posing for me.

Once again, I was mesmerized until my camera screen went from this cute baby to a huge "Mama" elephant who was glaring at me. I took a couple of steps backward and was captured by her huge eyes. She pawed the ground and began slowly moving toward me.

Since I had already not followed any of the rules I turned and ran as fast as I could toward the jeep. I'm not the fastest runner but I think I was close to setting an Olympic record. Of course, Mama Elephant, wasn't interested in my World Record, only to end this threat to her baby. As she bore down on me, I knew that I would never make the jeep.

That is when the adrenaline came on full force and I leaped into a Baobab Tree and quickly climbed up four branches. It was obvious that when she reached the tree her trunk could easily grab me. I managed to pull up 3 more branches.

By then "Mama" had extended her trunk and I could feel it touching my tennis shoe. I pulled two branches higher but it wasn't enough. She wrapped her trunk completely around my leg and began slowly pulling me down; pulling, pulling my leg: "Just like I've been pulling your leg in this story".


~ Ed Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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