“Hold tight” our guide Geoffrey said as he put the land cruiser into reverse and put his foot down. With her trunk in the air and ears flapping the female elephant was clearly not having one of her better days and she was not prepared to let us pass. Once the vehicle was at a safe distance we stopped and soon saw why this elegant, rather large lady was standing her ground.

A baby elephant who was all trunk and ears peeped round the bush to see what was going on. Still getting used to its trunk this little one then started to mimic its mom, too much laughter from our guide and the rest of his guests. This was our welcome to Zambia and the South Luangwa National Park.

Having grown up in South Africa I have somewhat become complacent about this wonderful continent that I call home. Being on a game drive with guests who have never seen a monkey in the wild, let alone an elephant reminded me that going on a safari for the umpteenth time should be like going on safari for the first time. When visiting places like Istanbul, Agra and Cairo you know are going to see the Blue Mosque, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids. On safari, you do not know what each drive, walk or boat ride is going to bring.

During the course of the game drive, you generally stop for a coffee and a snack and I took the opportunity to ask my fellow guests how their first safari was going. Both of them were beaming, and could just not get over what they had seen, whilst also secretly admitting that their hearts were still beating a little faster than normal due to our encounter with the elephant. They were just as amazed to see a young, shy, female leopard being chased away by one seriously grumpy male baboon as they were to see a lilac-breasted roller chirping away on a nearby branch.

Each encounter made me want to see more and the other guests were already talking about coming back next year. Once you have experienced Africa it will stay with you for a lifetime and keep calling you back for more.

Thanks for reading

Author: Bridget Cohen