Back in 2001 we went to South Africa. Our journey began in Capetown and was continued to Hoedspruit, near the Krugerpark. We stayed in the so-called Tsjukudu-Lodge that owned three elephants, two males and one female. One of the males and the female were tame, the other male was a wild and dangerous animal, as we would find out later on.
The female had decided to mate with the wild male, but when we arrived she wanted to play with us. The wild male did not accept that and attacked us. To clarify, we were in a jeep, so our driver backed off as fast as he could, but he told us this would mean a victory for the elephant and we had to counter-attack. So we did that a few times and eventually the elephant gave in. We had won this round.
Later that day, as the evening began to fall, we went to seperate part of the park, where they kept a lot of lions. I made the picture of the lion with the sun in his face just before sunset. After that we had to get out of this part of the park, but at the gate were two elephants, the same pair we saw earlier that day. We could not get through the gate because of the elphants and there were two cars behind us also trying to get out, but how? We tried everything, from making lots of noise to using the sound of the engine. Luckily they backed off eventually. Now finally we could get out, but the two cars behind us could not. We decided to help them by driving to the other side of the nearby lake and started to make noise and turned on the headlights, that certainly worked well, maybe a bit too well, as the big male charged towards us through the shallow water. No problem right? Cause we were still in the car and cars are faster than elephants right? Wrong, we got stuck in the mud and the elephant continued his charge towards us. It took a moment but soon we all realised we were in danger, my wife started to cry and weirdly enough I started to laugh. At nearly the last possible moment our driver took a very important decision, he took out his gun as well as some stones and fired a few warning shots and threw the stones directly at the elephant. The elephant came to stop no less than one meter from the vehicle… Too bad it was already too late to take pictures.
My name is Erik de Just, I was born in Hengelo, the Netherlands in 1966. My father always dreamt of becoming a pilot or a photographer. So at the age of six I got a Cosina SLR camera to take pictures of fighterjets. We could turn our bathroom into a darkroom to develop the pictures. Over the years I bought a new camera, a Chinon. My interest in planes stopped, but the photography remained. When I met the women who is now my wife, holidays became more important and we started to travel around the world. After one of our first trips, a trip to Australia, I returned home rather disappointed by the pictures I took. Because of that I decided to do the Fotovakschool in Apeldoorn, a school for photography in the Netherlands. A few years later, at the end of 1997, I got the opportunity to take over a photography shop, Fotovaarhorst, in Haaksbergen. We thought that would be the end of our special holidays. Three years later we took over our second shop, but it still did not stop us from travelling. In December 2001 we had a baby, Erik junior, and even he could not stop us from travelling, though we would be bringing an extra passenger from then on.
In all that time we have been to: Greece, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Malta, Spain, Cyprus, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Equador, the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Antarctica, Singapore.
Not all of our trips were phototrips, but we are crazy enough to go to Canada for five days, just to see polar bears.