A photographic safari works the same way a normal safari would, except no animals are killed in the process. Instead, people take pictures of the creatures they want to see or they take as many as they can and make it kind of a contest. The one with the most types of animals in pictures could win something especial, whether it comes rom it fellow safari goers, the company that organizes the trip or himself/herself.
Olive was one such person. She had dreamt for many years to go Africa and do a proper safari with the help of her best camera. She had been an amateur photographer for a long time and was looking forward to test herself with the weather and the creatures in a continent she regarded as wild and beautiful.
In the plane towards her destination, she started take pictures and documenting her journey in a smaller camera, doing videos she could later edit into bigger ones and then upload them online. The idea was that people could follow her progress over a week and make it something that would not only change her life but also the life of people that may want to know more about where she was going and the reasons she had to do it. She was an animal passionate, a real defender of nature and wanted to take the best pictures to show her respect for the true magnificence of it.
The first day was full of movement. She didn’t see any animals in Nairobi, as the city was not really a proper place to see wild animals. But she was picked up by a nice man called Arthur and taken to a hotel in the middle of a close by natural park. It was the afternoon and Olive hated herself for having no other option than to choose the flight that made her arrive so late but it was the one she could afford with her salary.
As she crossed the gates of the small hotel, she took her first picture: it was a couple of giraffes feeding off a very tall tree. The sun was setting so the animas in the pictures could only be identified for their large necks against a beautiful orange sunset in the background. She took several pictures of the same subject; afraid she was not using her camera well. She even changed the angle and wouldn’t go inside her room until she felt she had gotten it right.
Arthur told her he had been living in the area for a long time and that some of the animals would not be as easy going as the giraffes. Some of them really did not like to be filmed and photographed. Furthermore, they would have to go out at night in order to take pictures of every single animal if that’s what she wanted. Of course, Olive got worried because she wasn’t experienced in nocturnal photography and she also felt she wasn’t fast enough, taking too much time to achieve a single shot.
The next day, she posted her best picture of the giraffe series on her blog and had breakfast very early in order for Arthur to take her deeper into the natural park to take more pictures. But they weren’t going to go there alone. Other guests of the hotel also wanted to attend the safari. Most had very professional cameras ready and only a couple only had very basic machines because they did not come to take pictures but to experience the real Africa first hand.
The first creatures they saw were zebras. Again, Olive took several pictures and realized she was nervous because of the amount of pictures she took of a single specimen. She was clearly worried that she wouldn’t be able to get the perfect shot and she had to let that go in order not only to achieve her goals but to actually have some fun doing the safari. She had to realize they were competing in this one so she could relax and just try to enjoy it for what it was.
The next animal was a rhino. Arthur said it was very uncommon to encounter one so early in the safari but, apparently, the creature had needed to refresh his body first, before running away from the cameras. It was deep into the mud, barely moving, ignoring them completely or simply thinking that if he didn’t move no one would see him. Olive didn’t like those pictures at all because it was hard to recognize the rhino’s head. She tired to take some more but the jeep moved along.
They saw a big flock of long legged birds and Arthur also stopped next to a rotting tree in order for his passengers to check it out for insects. There were many beautiful and large ones, having really bright colors and curious shapes. Some of the other women were scared, squeaking like a mouse every time a big insect moved. But Olive was very busy taking pictures to be scared. She managed to get some very interesting angles and was pleased with herself for the first time that day.
They so more giraffes on the way back to the hotel, as they were going to have a break for lunch. Olive was not interested in eating too much but she did have to attend and stand the silly conversations that broke out between the various people of the tour.
She had always felt very different in large groups. That wasn’t a very large one only about eight people were there, but she knew what she had come for and she didn’t like to make small talk or to pretend she was there to make friends instead of taking pictures and getting better at it. She almost didn’t have a bite and decided to be the first in the jeep for the afternoon ride, getting away from the chatter and the silly laughter.
Arthur was the first one to walk up to the jeep and he asked her if she was ok. At first, Olive didn’t understand the question. She only instinctively moved her head affirmatively because she didn’t wanted to talk, to busy checking her pictures in her camera. That night, she would recall that moment and feel stupid. It was obvious Arthur was actually concerned about her but she had dismissed him in a second, as she often did when people tried to be nice to her.
The first creatures of the afternoon were elephants. A rather large group of them was resting under a very big tree, so big it was able to cast a big enough shadow for a group of ten elephants. They looked so peaceful and wise somehow that everyone in the jeep decided not to make a single noise. The engine of the machine was turned off and the tourists were able to stare at the creatures for a long time. They were resting and didn’t care about humans.
As Olive took pictures, Arthur got close to her and told her in very low register that she could go closer if she wanted, but not too far away from the vehicle. She nodded and immediately jumped off the jeep, landing very hard on her ankles. Olive tried to ignore the pain and got the camera ready to shoot the best pictures yet. A couple of the other tourists stepped down from the jeep too but they didn’t walk too far way from it, just a couple of steps.
She got as close as she felt was safe and then she started to take more and more pictures. Of the big elephant that was “sitting” on the floor, with a similar expression a king would have on his throne. Also of the three little elephants that were taken care of big the larger ones in the group, probably their mothers. Olive tired to move in silence but she was too excited to do it properly. She couldn’t realize what was happening because of that excitement but the creatures were getting anxious.
As she was kneeling to take a better group shot, one of the elephants suddenly turned around and charged towards her, as fast as it could. It took her a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and her first thought was not to run towards the jeep. That proved to be a mistake because there was no other place in that savannah to hide from an elephant.
A gunshot then scared the elephants away, including the one chasing Olive. It had been very close to tackle her with its tusks and crush her with its weight but fortunately Arthur had a rifle in the jeep and was able to shoot at the sky when necessary. Yet, Olive had not gone unpunished from the experience. In the run, she had dropped her camera and it now laid destroyed on the savannah floor, stepped on by an insulted elephant.
Olive felt she was done. That accident meant she just wasn’t fit to be there, to pretend she was someone she wasn’t.