Most of the time, human beings entering wild safari territories with proper guides can be incredibly fun. Other times, they can suffer a terrible experience they would not wish on their worst enemy. Bad safari experiences are thankfully not as common as good ones in Africa. However, they do happen and they can end in absolute tragedy. There are times that these people meet a fate that they truly deserved while others happen by complete accident.
Remember, these are wild places and even in proper safari parks that are patrolled by humans year-round, there can be issues that occur. Wild animals like several predatory cats, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, and many more are not heavily controlled or tamed like what you might see in a zoo. They roam free and it is up to guides to protect people from harm, but they can only do so much. That said, here are true personal experiences about bad safari experiences that might shock you.
The Hippo Attack
A Florida woman decided to spend her 37th birthday taking a Safari. She went on a guided canoe trip along the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe in December of 2018. She and her husband nearly met their end when a Hippopotamus attacked the safari group, leading to one of the worst birthdays one could have experienced. While the group spotted a group of Hippos and initially did try to paddle away, one went underwater and came up dramatically out of the water, capsizing the woman’s canoe.
The Hippo then dragged her underwater, presumably to end her life. Thankfully, while this might have been fatal 99 times out of 100, one of the guides on the trip was able to grab the woman and pull her to safety on the river bank. It was later found that the Hippo was attempting to protect a young calf that was nearby underwater. While the Hippo did break the woman’s femur, she made a full recovery. Sure, this ranks high among bad safari experiences, but what a cool birthday story!
Lioness Attack That Reinforces Why Fences Exist On Game Reserves
Sometimes, accidents happen while on safari trips. However, other times there might be experiences that happen on game reserves too. Such an incident happened on a reserve outside Pretoria, South Africa. A 22-year-old woman went to take pictures outside the fenced area of the camp she was staying in. At that same time, a lioness was chasing after an impala, which is a species of antelope.
While the lioness might have been seeking the impala, she happened across the young woman first. Due to the fact that the lioness was on the hunt, she was clearly hungry. This resulted in the lioness attacking and killing the woman. It was found out afterward that the woman was actually not staying at the local camp but was actually there as a guest. Her friend, who was staying there, had invited her. In fact, she was preparing to interview the camp’s manager before she was killed.
A lot of the time, when we discuss these stories, there is no true footage to use. Attacks can happen and as cool as they are to talk about, having visual evidence is even cooler. Such a situation happened in March of 2016 when a man caught his wife being pushed over by a gorilla as he ran past her. Gemma Cosgriff was with her husband on their honeymoon in Rwanda. The two were part of a group that was observing animals at Volcanoes National Park.
It joins the list of bad safari experiences when a wild gorilla comes running by. Gemma claims she “was fearing for [my] life in that split second.” She had been told not to look any of the gorillas in the eye if they did approach her. Gemma also said that she felt slightly at fault because her bright pink shirt might have been why the gorilla took such an interest in her. Thankfully, she was not injured by the push. On the contrary, Gemma said the gorilla’s soft hands cushioned the impact a bit.
When we discuss people having bad safari experiences in Africa, we’re usually expecting it to be someone unaware of the dangers they might be facing. Yet that cannot be said about a Safari guide, who certainly knows the dangers of the area. Safari Guide Curtis Plumb is an experienced guide in Africa. While the rest of those on the safari was in protected vehicles, Plumb was not. He happened to be in an open jeep without a top on it. Taking place in July 2015 at Kruger National Park in South Africa, he spotted a leopard in the bush and instructed the tourists to check it out.
The leopard, seeing the humans, uncharacteristically went after the guide, lunging toward him and biting down on the Clump’s arm. The guide managed to get away, likely as a result of the leopard being hit by one of the vans. Which combined with Clump’s own efforts, knocked the leopard off. It was said that the leopard had been fighting another leopard just before this, which could be the reason for its initial aggression. Due to the injuries sustained, the leopard was put down while the man suffered some serious but thankfully no life-threatening injuries.
Tanzanian Elephant Proves It Does Not Care How Rich You Are
While on a guided walking tour in Tanzania in 2009, the billionaire founder and CEO of C3 IoT, Tom Siebel nearly lost his life. He and his guide spotted a 6-ton elephant while near a watering hole. All of a sudden, the elephant spotted them as well and began to charge. Although it is uncertain what caused the elephant to charge, it would do so and ended up shattering Siebel’s leg. He had to end up having 16 surgeries just to save his leg.
While they might be large, elephants are incredibly fast and Tom learned that the hard way. When asked about the attack, he told Forbes in 2010: “All of a sudden, one of the larger female elephants just spun around and sat on her haunches and put her trunk in the air and her ears out fully extended and just bellowed at us. I don’t know if she could see us or smell us, but she pointed right at us. She paused for probably two seconds and then [made] a beeline right at us.”
Whenever an adult is killed by a wild animal, it is clearly a horrible tragedy. Yet when a child is killed, it is lightyears worse simply due to how helpless the child is to save its own life. Such a tragedy went down in May of 2018 at Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. A 3-year-old boy was snatched by a Leopard and was later found to have been killed. The worst part about all of this is that the parents certainly knew about the wild animals in the area.
The little boy’s mother was a Park Ranger and actually left a Nanny in charge of the boy as she went to work. The Nanny was apparently walking outside and did not realize the little boy was behind her. That was when the leopard pounced to take the child. She heard the child scream for help, causing the nanny to try to fight the leopard off but could not stop it. A search was immediately mounted and the next day, the search resulted in finding the boy’s skull among other bones.
While most people have common sense enough to know that wild animals are not going to just pose for pictures, Chantel Beyer seemed to not be aware of this somewhat. Taking place at the Aloe Ridge Hotel and Nature Reserve in South Africa, the woman and her husband got out of their vehicle to take a few pictures of two huge rhinoceroses on this January 2013 day. This did not sit well with one of the White Rhinos involved, who decided to gore the woman with its horn.
While you could say that this was entirely the fault of the woman involved, we cannot blame her entirely. The owner of this game park actually instructed her to stand a little bit closer to the rhinos for the photograph shortly before the attack happened. The woman was not killed in this attack but did suffer injuries to her shoulder, lungs, and ribs. Bad safari experiences like these are entirely preventable when people who are supposed to be experts actually do their job properly.
In August of 2017, 75-year-old businesswoman Carol Sue Kirken was on a family vacation in Tanzania. She has been described as an avid world traveler who is a notable local philanthropist. However, one August day she found out how horrific an encounter with a hippopotamus can be. She was on a safari with her son, Robert, when the duo spotted a group of hippos nearby. This quickly turned into one of the bad safari experiences her son would never forget.
Since they were seemingly there to observe the hippos, this was a good thing. However, the group was said to have gone on the attack. Kirken was killed in this attack, but the details around her death are pretty unclear. It is unknown if they simply got too close or what. Hippos are naturally very territorial creatures, which is becoming quite well-known. Anyone with any working knowledge of them would know this too. They kill more people per year than any other predator in Africa, COMBINED!
It might be impossible to assume, but one incident involving an elephant makes many ponder if elephants just want humans to be more polite. Elephants are incredibly smart creatures, so that is possible. One young couple seemed to have learned this while they were near a safari lodge where they also worked in Zimbabwe. The couple decided to walk their dogs right outside the lodge during one August 2014 evening when a young bull elephant began attacking them.
The man yelled out “sorry” and the elephant tossed him aside. The man, Dylan Taylor, said about the incident: “I don’t know why I said that word. But there was definitely a break, a change at that point.” Taylor would be rushed to a nearby medical facility and was treated for several injuries upon arrival. The couple ended up getting married at that very same lodge that the elephant attack occurred, which they had planned to do before the attack.
Giraffes are well-known for being gentle, kind creatures. Yet if you work alongside them at zoos or on game reserves, you know they can get agitated and do not mind attacking humans if they must. This very issue happened in December of 2018 when a South African safari worker was feeding the animals at a safari lodge. Suddenly, the giraffe kicked the worker right in his stomach. While he would get medical attention soon after, the kick resulted in his death.
It is not known what caused the giraffe to kick the worker. However, they are known to kick those they perceive as potential threats. This is especially true of those who survive initial poaching attempts. Giraffes are massive from the moment they are born. They can stand as tall as 6 feet and weigh a little over 200lbs at the moment of birth! Even a calf has enough power to critically injure a human being while a full-grown giraffe can kill humans as well as lions and other creatures.
Herd Of Buffalo Nearly Kills People In Passenger Car
While Hippos, Lions, and Elephants might be the big three most tend to fear most while on a safari, there are plenty of other animals to be afraid of too. Some people learned this the hard way in May of 2016 at South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the site of several safari-relate incidents (as you’ll come to find out). This incident was even caught on video, making it possible for people to view the amazing ordeal.
Based on the video, a major herd of cape buffalo was heading toward a waterhole when they spotted lions near the water source. It is assumed that it caused panic in the buffalo ranks, causing the entire herd to move in the opposite direction. Sadly for those in a safari expedition, that meant the buffalo were going to be moving right toward them. Talk about bad safari experiences, right? The buffalo barged into a white sedan, nearly tipping it over. Somehow, no one was hurt in the stampede.
Woman Tells Horrific Story About The Lion Attack That Nearly Killed Her Family
Writer Glen Newton wrote about her bad safari experiences tale for The Guardian, and this story is epic! She was 5 at the time of the attack as her family went on vacation to Longleat, which is a safari park in the United Kingdom. The family was immediately next to a lion in their vehicle when the 5-year-old Newton reached down to pat the lion on its head outside the window. The lion was not happy about this, and it immediately began to roar. Newton claimed that her family began to frantically roll up the window but the one roar set more issues in motion.
Now, numerous lions were around their vehicle. They climbed all over it, leaving paw-prints. Glen would claim: “Looking back, I can see that there was just a sheet of glass separating us from them, and we were their dinner. But I was five, and these lions were my friends. Dad leaned on the horn to try to summon help. The park rangers eventually arrived and shot the lions. I now know that they just shot them with tranquilizers, but to five-year-old me, they had killed them. I was devastated. My family’s hysteria, meanwhile, started to abate as they realized that this day was not to be their last.”
Tiger Attacks Prove Why You Never Get Out Of Your Car On A Safari
Yet another time when video evidence exists regarding an attack, this incident took place in the Badaling Wildlife Park in Beijing, China. NBC News managed to get their hands on some video footage of the moment a Tiger attacked and killed one tourist while critically injuring the other. Taking place in July of 2016, the surveillance video shows the moment when a woman can be seen exiting their vehicle and walking around to the driver’s side door. This was when the tiger attacked her.
The tiger can be seen attacking then dragging her away. A second woman attempts to rescue her friend but was actually killed by another tiger. Funny enough, the woman who started the entire incident, to begin with, managed to escape. She sustained critical injuries yet the actual driver of the vehicle, as well as a child inside the car, was not harmed. Bad safari experiences like these are terrible, but the Wildlife Park tells people repeatedly to stay in their vehicles and to NEVER exit them in the park.
Walking Safari Tours Can Be Deadly When Elephants Are Involved
Tarangire National Park in Tanzania actually does not allow walking tours, but an incident involved the park nonetheless. It occurred in September of 2013 when UC San Diego Dean, Thomas McAfee, and some friends encountered a herd of about 50 elephants, who then began to chase the men. They obviously began to run away from the incoming stampede coming right for them. Thus, putting this on the bad safari experiences list for sure.
However, McAfee sadly tripped and was trampled to death by the elephant herd. McAfee and his friends were actually outside of the park boundaries but the park was blamed for the incident. This was in spite of not having any true role in the attack. The park Warden, Stephen Qoli, said of the incident: “If you suddenly meet an elephant, it tries to defend itself. If you bump into an elephant, it will charge. If they are not very close to you, they normally don’t charge. It all depends on how close they are to you. You cannot predict, sometimes, their behavior.”
In March of 2021, a 27-year-old game tracker working for Marataba Safari Lodge in the Limpopo province within South Africa was attacked by lions. The man, Malibongwe Mfila, was killed in the attack. A tracking specialist, Mfila got out of his cat and walked into the park when he was attacked by two lions. While one could say that this ranks high among bad safari experiences, it was actually a big part of Mfila’s job to ride around the Safari Lodge to check where animals happen to be.
His job was to alert park guides on animal locations, who would be taking tourists on drives on the reserve. Game trackers are critical for safari reserves as they will be the ones to know animal locations that guides can avoid. The Marataba Luxury Lodge owners claimed: “He had walked just 20 meters from the vehicle when he came upon two young male lions hidden in the thicket. The lions attacked and killed him.” It was also confirmed Park Rangers shot and killed the lions, as they were likely to repeat similar attacks if allowed to live.
As we’ve referenced beforehand, giraffes are normally quite lovely creatures who actually tolerate humans quite well. It does take a level of fear for them to go after a human being in an attack. However, it does happen from time to time. Dr. Katy Williams and her three-year-old son found this out the hard way. She and her husband actually lived and worked on the Blyde Wildlife Estates as scientists in 2018. One day during that year, Katy and her son were both attacked by a giraffe.
Usually, giraffes only attack out of fear for their own lives. Yet they will also sometimes attack irrationally if they feel their young are in danger, in any way. This actually was the case for Williams and her son, who was attacked by a mother giraffe seemingly attempting to protect her calf. The giraffe and her calf were transferred to another location, but the calf sadly did not survive the move. As for Williams and her son, they were critically injured but have since made a full recovery.
Tourists are advised to never get out of their vehicle when on a safari. While some people still do this, risking their lives, many follow this rule quite well. In fact, American tourist and Game of Thrones editor Katherine Chappell did just that. Yet on one fateful day in June of 2015 at Lion Park in South Africa, one of the lions jumped up against the side of her vehicle and began attacking her. She was actually taking pictures inside the vehicle at the time of the attack. She died from her injuries, landing her on our list of bad safari experiences.
Guests are not just told to stay inside their vehicles at Lion Park, but they are also told to never roll down their windows on top of this. There are conflicting reports regarding if the tour guide’s window was down or not. Yet this is likely why the lion was able to attack Katherine, her window was down. The Assistant Operations Manager at Lion Park, Scott Simpson, said regarding the rule not to roll down windows: “That’s absolutely forbidden at our park. There are numerous signs, and we hand out slips of paper to all guests warning them to keep their windows closed.”
Even seasoned Safari Rangers are not safe from bad safari experiences themselves. This was proven in December of 2018 when Senior Safari Ranger Mark Lautenbach was trampled to death by a bull elephant. Taking place at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, the elephant in question was in musth. This is a time when the elephant has very high testosterone levels and is likely ready to begin mating.
The issue is that when animals have higher testosterone levels, they are more prone to attack. Their aggression levels are kicked up a notch. Essentially, Lautenbach tried to intervene when the bull elephant smashed through a fence and entered a tourist area at Madikwe’s Leopard Rock Lodge. Sadly, the elephant turned on the guide whom he liked knew. It is unlikely the elephant would have done this outside of musth. On this day, sadly, the Safari Ranger died as a result of it.
Molly Bruce Jacobs and her son were on a safari trip in Xakanaxa, Botswana. Molly and her 11-year-old son spent a full day enjoying their trip in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve. Her son, Mark Garrity Shea (known as Garrit), went to bed and was told by his mother not to leave the tent. After 11:00 PM, she and the safari staff also went to sleep. Shortly after, spotted hyenas invaded their campsite. While hyenas usually go after smaller prey, they will sometimes go after larger animals too.
Yet smaller is easier, and that was what they went for on this July 19th evening. While no one really knows how the hyenas were able to get into Garrit’s tent, they grabbed the boy by his neck and head and dragged him from his bed. His screams are what woke up his mother. The Wildlife guide, Matthew Montague, was new and did not have a gun on him due to the strict gun laws in Botswana. By the time they could catch up to the hyenas, Garrit was already dead.
One Car Had A Terrible Experience With An Elephant
Most of the time, bad safari experiences are had by humans. Yet one car may have needed a cold shower and counseling after its run-in with an elephant. Taking place at the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa in August of 2014, it seems an elephant wanted to spend some nice, well, “fun time” with a field guide’s VW Polo vehicle. The guide caught several photos of the elephant rubbing up against the car. The funniest part?
There were two people inside the vehicle looking absolutely horrified. Of course, the elephant happened to be in the musth period when testosterone levels are high. Sure, those people will rank this on their bad safari experiences list but the car is the true victim here. While the vehicle was slightly damaged (both mentally and physically), no humans were harmed. Though the elephant broke the chassis, smashed the windows, dented the roof, and blew all four tires. Try explaining that to your insurance company!
We expect to see animals and deal with potential issues they might cause. Yet humans are not always kind to their fellow man either. Such an issue happened in Kampala, Uganda in early 2019 when a woman and her guide were kidnapped. As far as bad safari experiences go, the woman, Kimberly Sue Endicott, felt she would be on one of the safer safaris in Africa. Queen Elizabeth National Park has had issues over the years but it is generally regarded as safe.
She and her guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, were planning to have a great trip. Yet their vehicle was stopped by armed men who took the guide and woman. A couple in their late 70s were also on the same safari but were left behind by the gunmen. Kimberly and Jean-Paul were held for ransom and gunmen did not plan on releasing the pair until they got their money somehow. Thankfully, the kidnappers kept their word and released the pair once the ransom was paid.
Tanzania has a habit of being on this list, but their most expensive safaris tend to be incredibly safe. Frenchman Patrick Fourgeaud and his wife Brigitte, are incredibly lucky to be alive today. The couple was on a safari in the Ruaha National Park in August of 2015 when they awoke to the sight of a huge cat inside their tent. It turned out to be a lion who actually sniffed Brigitte before attacking her husband in a horrifying mauling incident.
Patrick’s left arm was essentially torn off and it took 10 surgeries to reconstruct it. He will end up undergoing more operations in the very near future too. Bad safari experiences can be horrific, even when you survive them. This results in mental health complications for several. The couple has suffered depression, PTSD, and much more since the attack. They have since sued the British company that organized the trip, African Travel Resource.
Jeep Safaris are quite common in South Africa as well as other parts of the continent. While safaris generally fear the “Big 5” in Africa, Giraffes are normally pretty peaceful. Yet on this day, a giraffe was not a fan of the Jeep full of tourists. The creature would attack the jeep. It all began when the giraffe spotted the jeep and began to run toward it. When it got closer, it began trying to intimidate passengers and the driver decided to speed off. The Giraffe then decided to chase the jeep.
During this, the animal rammed the vehicle and kicked at the driver. This ended up knocking a mirror right off the Toyota Land Cruiser the tourists were in. Rainer Schimpf actually caught all of this on camera and told AOL Travel: “There was laughter, then tension, then fear.” While most would find this behavior to be odd, it is apparently well-known that the giraffes in this park are known for their rough attitude. This was the first instance of attacking humans, however. The Park Officials believe there is a hormonal imbalance in the giraffe that attacked the jeep.
Orangutans Get A Handful Of Woman WITHOUT CONSENT!
While it is possible some women do not mind when you come up behind them and grab their breasts, we’re not sure this is well-liked by most women. It is already problematic for human men to do this, but trying to control orangutans and keep them from doing so is not exactly “easy.” One tourist found this out at the Safari World in Bangkok as the orangutans actually posed for photographs while grabbing her breasts!
At first, they were posing for photos and one even had his arm around the woman’s waist. Orangutans are incredibly intelligent and this safari treats them well. Therefore, all they tend to know is good humans and therefore do not tend to attack them. Yet moments later, one of the other orangutans decided to move his hands up a bit and grabbed the woman’s breasts with a pretty firm squeeze. Let’s hope he’s not sued for sexual harassment. He cannot have that on his record.
China’s Safaris are always interesting. Unlike most African safaris, they actually have Tigers here. Most of the time, you’re going to see normal orange and black colored tigers, yet white tigers also exist at some. Funny enough, the big cats are actually not seen very often on these safaris. When they are spotted, however, they seem to have no problem coming right after humans. Even in captivity, Tigers want you to know who the true predator is around these parts.
That is exactly what happened on a safari in China when a white tiger attacked. The video of the incident shows the tiger actually tearing off the car’s bumper. The owners of the park have actually tried to stop tigers from attacking their vehicles in the past, or at least trying to break them of it. One way they have attempted it is by smearing chili past on the vehicle. This is something most Tigers hate, as it can be spicy but also hurts them to sniff too. It did not work in this case.