Wild Trips: Big Mammal Action

We are staying at Tarangire safari lodge in Tarangire National Park… I love this park, it’s beautiful. Baobab and elephant tastic. The landscape is breath-taking. Rolling hills and rivers meandering through sandy soils. The roaming water sculpting the landscape as it finds its way through the unstable terrain. Forming artistic patterns as it creates a multitude of intricate trenches. The lodge is set on an escarpment. Luxury tents curve round the rim. The terrace is the best spot imaginable for a sundowner. Dotted with huge Baobab trees scored by the tusks of hundreds of elephants, it’s green even in dry season… We searched the endless baobabs and sausage trees for leopard. They have leopard written all over them! But no joy…. Well plenty of joy actually – it’s such a special National Park with so many elephants, so just no specifically leopard-related joy…


I woke in the night to chopping, then the quiet rumble that gave the elephants away. They were munching their way through some tall, lush grass growing behind the tent. The flaps at the front were already tied back – you are supposed to shut them but I never do – I love to see the shadows when things pass by in the night. So there was just mesh between me & the outside. At the side of the tent curtains obscured my view so I pulled them back to see what was going on… A huge female elephant with her very young calf were a metre from where I sat. She lifted her trunk and smelt me. I whispered “hello jumbly!! Nice baby…” Then quietly, gently, they moved on together down the escarpment.. Her enormous padded feet placed with care as she passed silently by. 


Then more noise, this time two naughty teenagers.. Boy elephants. They were so close I could hear them breathing. Their leathery ears flapping rhythmically.. They meandered between the tents, just a couple of metres away, play fighting; tusks clashed in the darkness. On the edge of the escarpment and right outside the tent a massive, ancient baobab tree turned their attention. Gouging tusks into its succulent trunk, they crashed about. Then they pulled up the lights, embedded in cement, along the path. One started kicking the metal supports of next door’s tent, tap tap tapping it. He then had a go at the thatch above, pulling it out and chucking it on the floor. By this time I was standing watching intently right by the mesh at the front of the tent. Moonlight illuminating the naughty boy’s activities… Suddenly, I was noticed. One of the adolescent male elephants stood face on, scraping the ground with his enormous paddy feet, swinging his leg back and forth. He pushed the table over with his trunk and then lifted it up smelling me. From the tip of that elongated snout to the tip of my nose must have been less than two foot with nothing between us save green safari mesh. He flapped his ears and raised his trunk and looked straight at me – at which point I took the wise safety precaution to move to the other side of the bed. Always wise to put a bed between you and any potentially dangerous wild animal! He checked me out for a few minutes more before crashing off down the escarpment to catch up with his partner in crime..


Too blown away by all of this to sleep, I lay awake listening. Lions roared in the distance… Then a torch light and a voice and the shadow of yet another little jumbly bumberling along down the path followed by a man with a torch telling it off… Apparently, there had been elephant activity up near the restaurant and swimming pool area too… Love those jumblies!!! Even if we didn’t have water the next day- they had smashed the pump on a raid of the water tower…. A small price to pay. Though I suspect the irate American felt differently.


Category: Big Mammal Action, More Wild Trips