So there we were cramped into our hire car, Dad and my sister in the front and me sandwiched between my brother and Mum. We slowed down to a crawl and then stopped altogether as it approached.

It’s heavy feet seemed to shake the car as it came closer and closer, one stomp at a time, towards us.

I was unable to breathe, too scared to make a sound and alert it to our presence even though it had clearly already spotted us.

It stopped just as it reached the drivers window and peered in at us; judging whether we were a threat or not. My dad started reaching over to grab the camera and I hissed “No! What are you doing!?” at him. Throughout our holiday he’d had an uncanny ability to beep the car’s horn when reaching over to grab something or set the camera’s flash off when he hadn’t meant to. That was the last thing we needed right now.

We were a couple of days in to our safari in South Africa. We’d seen lions, antelope, giraffes, crocodiles and elephants. Loads of them. Just none of them from such a close range…

Sat we bated breath we waited to see what would happen next. Would the car be flipped over with one effortless flick of its trunk? Would he stamp on the bonnet of the car and render us immobile? The car behind had already started reversing back towards the rest hut we’d just left. The car in front had stopped. All of them waiting to see what would happen to us.

elephant encounter south africa

Kruger National Park rules state that if an animal comes towards you you should stop moving, turn off your engine, and leave it be. But, when an animal of this size comes towards you, the need to run is at the forefront of your mind.

I could hear my heart thumping away in fear like a scene out of Jurassic Park. Only, this animal wasn’t extinct, he was very much alive and well.

We met eye to eye, the elephant and I.

And then he walked away.

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