A recent trip to Africa offered some Tech alumni and friends an up-close look at lions, zebras, elephants and other exotic animals, as well as a chance to relax in the continent’s “subtle heartbeat.” Two tour members offer their reflections on a trip that won’t be forgotten.
We came to the Masai Mara Game Reserve and the affiliated Grand Sopa Lodge on the 10th day of our trip and went the next morning on our daily game safari. We drove about 10 miles on very rough roads and were headed east on a fairly straight section when we slowed. A large herd of elephants was coming toward us diagonally on our left at a fairly high-speed ramble.
Our guide, Ken, sped up and about 85 elephants crossed the road 20 yards behind us as we stood up through the observation opening of the Land Cruiser to watch them slow down and begin to graze. Then we heard the trumpeting of about 15 elephants in front of us. As we turned to the front, we saw they were running very fast directly toward us with their ears flared out, trunks up high and eyes bulged out (yes, we were that close), knocking down small trees.
Brigitte Beard was the only calm one who remembered that we were there to take pictures, which she did as the rest of us dove down to our seats. We awaited the impact, but Ken made a violent right turn up a small hill to get behind a group of large trees for safety. He knew we were directly in their path to the main herd, and they wanted us out of the way.
After the brief but terrifying charge, we collected ourselves and began laughing, pulled some Cokes from the coolers and continued our late afternoon safari to see what was around the next turn.
The sights and sounds of Africa brought me to a place of peace that had eluded me since the death of my husband [Hugh Beard Jr., IM 73]. As I stepped off the plane in Kilimanjaro, Kenya, the warm rain began to wash my senses. The scent of the frangipani and the beauty of the jacaranda trees brought back memories of my childhood spent in West Africa.
There is a rhythm to the continent of Africa like no other. It has a subtle heartbeat that draws you in and calms your spirit. From the daytime song of the people with their welcoming smiles to the nighttime lullaby of the cicadas, I felt at home again.
The incredible sunrise brushed across the Serengeti morning sky emphasized the beauty of the earth. It was and still is a magical place that reminds me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Thanks for the memories. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Want to go on an adventure with fellow alumni? For more information on the Alumni Travel program and to register for a trip, visit gtalumni.org/travel.