The trip sounded like an episode of the reality television show Survivor. I walked around Victoria Falls, rode an elephant, flew in a helicopter, danced, ate a worm and gave a guy a five million dollar tip.
I understand now that some people are opposed to people riding elephants. I didn’t think about this in 2006. Janet and her guide took us around the Elephant Camp outside Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The guide answered all my questions — not an easy task to have a journalist on a slow elephant safari. At the end of our trip, I purchased a copy of Janet’s foot print. A true tourist thing to do, but we were told the proceeds funded efforts to protect the elephants. Her footprint hangs on a wall in my house.
I was touched by my guide’s dedication to live and work with Janet. All my safari companions were. I traveled by myself that’s why I’m with some unknown lady in the picture. She never seemed very happy on the ride. I sometimes fail to remember unhappy people.
We sent tips to our elephant guides at the end of the trip. I found my supply of U.S. dollars running low and sent a $5 bill to my guide.
“That’s too much,” my safari guide said. “With inflation, that’s five million dollars.” I doubt the exchange rate is much better today.
By any standards, the tip was probably too small to show my gratitude for getting so close to a lovely animal.