I went to Zambia a few years ago to visit my family. I had a great time with them, but decided to go to Livingstone to visit the majestic and mighty Victoria Falls. While in Livingstone, I decided to go for an elephant ride offered about 3 kilometers from the Falls. The whole adventure starts with a light breakfast – I guess one needs energy for an elephant ride. The skies were blue and the weather quite warm, even though this was at the height of the Zambian cold season.
The elephants were quite well behaved and were standing in line ready for the rides. I knew that elephants are huge animals, but seeing them up close was something else, and I must say they scared me.
A guide then gives some safety instructions. He also informed us that the matriarch names Apongozi (meaning Mother-in-Law) was a self-willed lady and so only a courageous and strong person should ride her. One man volunteered and I thought he was very brave. I would not have done such a thing! True to the guide’s warning Apongozi was something else – she frequently deviated from the path she was supposed to take. The other elephants would follow her lead and also start doing what she was doing, mainly just feeding. I thought Apongozi made the adventure more interesting as the guide would engage into a conversation with her to try and coax her to get on the ‘straight and narrow’.
We had to get on a high stand just to mount the elephants. Each person rode with a guide for safety reasons and I suspect to calm nervous customers like myself.
Zambian Lady preparing for landing
Do you see how tightly I was holding onto the guide? I would not have let him go for a million dollars!
Riders feed the elephants after the ride. It was, again, scary for me. At the end the elephants wave bye, for lack of a better term.
All in all, I really had a great time. Would I do it again? No, one time is enough to last me a life time.