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It was peaceful watching this mom and young charges splashing in the water until ... -- Photo by Pat Bean

 ” We live in a world full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. ” – Irving Wallace

"Hey guy's! There's a hammerkop over there with the zebra." -- Photo by Pat Bean

African Safari: Holding Our Breaths

Our afternoon game drive with Bilal took place in Tarangire National Park, which is known for its elephants. The park , except during its rainy season, is mostly hot and dry. We missed the rainy season, and our August visit during Africa’s winter was made before the heat and dryness claimed the land.

The elephants, as almost all of the park’s wildlife did, made their way daily to the park’s only water source, the Tarangire River for which the park is named. Bilal knew exactly where to go and where to park for spectacular views of wildlife visiting the river.

One of the places was in the shade of a tree right next to a bank. On the far side of the river, we watched zebra and waterbuck peacefully drinking together. While we were watching a couple of giraffe joined them. It was fun to watch how they splayed their legs apart so as to be able to get low enough to drink.

Kim got this photo of a really big elephant that didn't scare us a bit. Perhaps because it was shot with her zoom lens. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

As I watched in awe, my eye was drawn to a bird at the feet of the zebras. It was a hammerkop, a strange looking bird with an elongated head. It was yet another lifer, which I excitedly pointed out to Kim and Bilal, both of whom failed to see birds when larger, more exotic, wildlife was in view.

On our side of the river were three elephants, a mom and two young ones. They were splashing in the water near were Bilal had parked the Land Rover. They looked like they were having so much fun that even I forgot to look at birds for awhile.

As we watched, the three began to climb out of the river beside our vehicle. As the young ones made their way up the bank, the mom got in front of our vehicle and engaged us in a stare off. She was close enough that she could have easily touched the hood of the vehicle with her trunk.

We could hear her snuffling as she glared intently into each of our eyes.

We can't say we weren't warned. -- Photo by kim Perrin

Kim and I, who were both standing up in the vehicle, stopped breathing we were so still. Bilal had his hand on the keys in the ignition but he didn’t move a muscle either. While this wasn’t the largest elephant we had seen, we all knew how fierce the protective mom could turn in an instant if she thought we were a danger to the young ones she had in tow.

After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was only about two or three minutes she turned and led her charges off. All three of us took a big breath.

Bilal said he had been afraid if he started the vehicle to get us away, it would have caused her to charge.

Kim and I had wanted to have an adventure when we came to Africa, and this day certainly provided one. But we were both irked that neither of us had taken a photo of the face off. I would remember that later during another close-up wildlife encounter

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