They covered important rules when we arrived to our safari camp like where the alcohol is stored and how to lock up the liquor cabinet so the baboons don’t raid it. Or, what time the meals would be served. They even told us we shouldn’t walk back to our tent unescorted at night because of the creatures. However, it would have also been helpful to know what to do when a full-grown male lion walks up to your no-door, no window, open-sided Land Cruiser and stares at you.
Now there are those things you naturally do like speed up your heart rate and soil your underwear. But, staying low, still and quiet are more important. Audrey, in a very calm, but nerve-filled tone said to our guide, “Is it o.k. he’s walking toward us?” His response, “Just don’t get bit.” I was less nervous mainly because Audrey was between me and the lion and Colin was closer. Isn’t there a saying, “Women and Children First”?
We’ve been fortunate to experience some amazing animal encounters like spotting giraffes a few feet from our car, swimming with sea lions, watching 40 elephants walk into the waterhole, or viewing killer whales just off the bow of our Zodiac. But, a lion this close takes your breath away. I was captivated. Both Audrey and Decker could hardly contain themselves. Even Colin, who often has his nose in a book, sat up in awe.
We were now only five feet away from this massive kitty cat as he sat down in the shade of our vehicle. His mane was perfectly combed as if he’d just come back from the groomers. His eyes were golden. His muscles were toned. He was pure beauty and strength. We then saw another male a 100 yards away and drove over.
When we were about 15 feet from this flesh-eating beast, our rear tire started to deflate. Not again. At least with our last flat tire we could safely exit the vehicle. Not here.
Our guide, Tom, who demonstrated his driving prowess earlier while taking our 4WD overland and through rivers, lakes, and bogs, slowly moved the Toyota Land Cruiser a few hundred yards away. Decker asked if it was o.k. to drive on the rim. “Safety trumps a bent rim” was Audrey’s response.
We all got out of the car and Tom said, “Just stay near the vehicle while we change the tire.” You don’t need to tell me twice. Let’s just say it’s a little unnerving to step out of a vehicle and stand in lion country.
I turned to the kids and said, “That’s a good story to tell when asked what you did on your summer vacation.” Just one of many.
I’ve got to go clean my underwear now.