Travel. Mana Pools. Zimbabwe. Chased by elephants.Walking alone through the Savannah.
That morning I hadn’t committed the insanity of walking alone for 40 minutes, unarmed. Along the shore of the mighty Zambezi River, I was accompanied only by my loyal tripod and my heightened senses while the first of the Sun God’s rays began to flood one of the most authentic wildlife areas in Africa: the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. This time, I walked with another traveler, greeting the first light of dawn along with our hired armed guide, walking, expectant, hoping that the African savannah would surprise us. Dawn and dusk are the best times to observe animals. Soon we spotted a small group of elephants made up of a female, an adolescent and a small calf. We maintained a cautious 650-foot distance, aware of their reputation as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, especially mothers with their young.
After watching them for a while, we left them behind and began to cross the open plain, typical of the region, which is dotted with acacia groves. Barely five minutes later, we heard a sound that made us spin around. The three elephants that we had stalked were stampeding towards us, crazed, as if being pursued by the Devil himself. The initial 1,300 feet was quickly reduced to 650, then 300. Our legs began to move quickly, the armed guide and I in front; our companion, who was pushing 70, lagged behind. When there were just 500 feet separating us from the crazed animals, a small embankment that we climbed and our guide’s experience saved us. Our desperate shouts and gestures, along with us becoming more visible, made the elephants suddenly turn at a right angle and disappear amongst the acacias. They had seen us. In reality, they were probably not attacking us but were more likely fleeing from someone or something. These enormous animals have very poorly developed eyesight. They are scared of us, and they don’t attack us for no reason, but if they’d stumbled upon us on their wild path, if they had only noticed our presence at a distance inferior to the safe distance, the outcome could have been very different.