Africa, Botswana, Safari, Travel

That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part1)

That one time on Safari when I got attacked by a rhino

Rhinos are some impressive looking animals, standing tall and broad grazing in the twilight. You switch off the engine of your car, lean back and relax – this is what you came on Safari for!

That one time at Safari when I got attacked by a rhino and how I got away - Khama Rhino Sanctuary Botswana

Now fast forward about 6 hours…

It’s 11 pm and your sleeping safe and sound in the rooftop tent of your 4×4, until… Until you wake up because the car is shaking left right, left right. A brief moment of shock, you look at your fiance, he looks at you, you realize neither of you is responsible for the nocturnal disruption… Time to dare a look outside into the darkness. Quick judgement call from me, oh that’s big that must be a Kudu (the biggest antelope in Botswana) – Ha I wish!

It’s a rhino, a fully grown black rhino having a blast scratching and rubbing its horns on the spare tyre on the rear of the car. First things shooting through my mind: But everybody told us that wouldn’t happen. You’re safe in your car they said. Nothing will bother you in your car they said. And literally no one, no guide, no expert, no tour organiser, we talked to before or after has ever encountered any issues in their tent or car!

So far the theory, but the reality is about 1.5 tonnes of rhino shaking our car to the core.

Next thought: Can it tip over the car?? And let me tell you that’s one scary thought… So we start to try to put counterweight with our bodies as if that would help, but we are the only campers and all alone in the pitch black night.



It goes on for about an hour, while we are sitting helplessly in our tent going through our (unfortunately very limited) options – and while trying to film with the GoPro, because after all this is probably a once in a lifetime event! It later turned out, that it was too dark to film and all we were able to record is the rhino’s grunting…

The rhino just continues having a good time

The spare tyre has just the right size to fit between its horns, but that’s not where the fun ends. The rhino makes use of the facilities of the campsite and manages to switch on the water tab. It falls into a routine of drinking, grunting, farting, scratching and eating off the close-by trees. After about an hour it stops. All of a sudden no scratching anymore and no accompanying sounds. Pheww, a short moment of relieve. But the water is still running so we have no chance of really evaluating the situation over the sound of pouring water.

One could say, we could act now but we are just frozen. All we know is how aggressive particularly black rhinos are supposed to be. They get scared they charge you. And we just witnessed one lifting this huge SUV off the ground…

That one time on Safari when I got attacked by a rhino and how I got away - Khama Rhino Sanctuary Botswana

So we spend the next half an hour discussing the likelihood of it coming back.

Luckily the rhino helps us answer that question by coming back! Lucky us! This time the rhino goes for the front of the car: under the hood, the side mirrors and front tyres. Basically all the essential bits you need to run a car. The scratching party is back on! This time we try some distraction strategies: we try to shine some light with a torch, we prepare a water bottle to throw away from the car, but never dare to actually do it.

We know that we have to leave or our car will be completely destroyed! With this perspective, we have to take some action…

Read Part 2 of ‘That one time on Safari when I got attacked by a rhino’ here!

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Safari Stories: That one time on Safari when I got attacked by a rhino and how I got away - Khama Rhino Sanctuary Botswana

You can read more about Safari in Southern Africa here:

Why we went on a self-drive Safari
15 things to know before going on a self-drive safari in Botswana
Essential Gear for your Self-Drive Safari
Kolmanskop: Namibia’s most deserted ghost town
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part1)
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part2)
30 Photos that will make you want to go to Botswana right now
Photo Diary of a typical day on Safari
25 Photos that will inspire you to visit Namibia
My favourite lodge in Namibia: RiverDance Lodge
Why you should add a visit to a Himba Village to your bucket list

12 thoughts on “That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part1)

  1. […] I’ve already said a lot about our self-drive safari but honestly, I can’t say enough about it. Botswana is one of the most wonderful places on earth, insanely beautiful and don’t even get me started on the wildlife. The trip was an unforgettable adventure and will always hold a very special place in my heart. There’s nothing like the first time you see an elephant, a lion and even an antelope, or the memory of being shaken to the core by a rhino. […]

  2. OK, that would be my worst nightmare! Though I hear the cape buffalo are even more terrifying. I was actually attacked by a gorilla in Rwanda, but it just turned out to be a teenage gorilla trying to play!

  3. I’ll never know how you managed to stay quiet through that. What a nightmare, especially since everyone told you that you’d be fine! I can’t wait to read part two!

  4. Wow! What a great story! Although it sounds pretty scary. I have no idea what I would’ve done in this situation. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

  5. This is absolutely terrifying! I think it’s super important for people to share experiences like this so we remember that these are wild animals and take the precautions we need. I’m happy you’re safe and I can’t wait to read part 2!

  6. That. Sounds. TERRIFYING! I have no clue what I would have done in your situation, especially after being told by all the “experts” that it would never happen. Lovely pictures though I may add! Definitely wish you could have gotten a quality video of the whole event, even with a GoPro!

  7. Wow what a crazy story to live through! I would be so so scared! I don’t even know what I would do in this case. I’ll have to read Part 2 to see what happened next 🙂

  8. Holy cow, this sounds absolutely terrifying! I wonder what it was that made the rhino attack. Can’t wait for part two!

  9. Hi,
    Being a South African I can totally relate. We don’t realize how small we are until we are in animal territory, sounds scary but what an awesome experience not many people get to witness the power and beauty of a Rhino. Waiting to read part 2

  10. I am already scared while reading your post. Rhinos can be so agressive! I can´t wait for the end of the story.

I am curious about your opinion!