Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Safari (Part 3)

After some lunch and a much needed nap, we headed back out later that afternoon. We drove around for a good bit, seeing animals the whole way. The idea was that we were going to do a long drive, see more animals, and then end the day by the lions we saw before.

As we headed back towards the lions, we came across a small herd of elephants as they crossed the road. They had a young elephant with them and were cautious around us but we were able to sit and watch them for a while. You don’t quite get the perspective of just how massive elephants are until you see them in the wild.

We headed back to check on the lions, and the two females were moving around and feeding on their kill. We parked nearby and watched them. We heard lion calls from two different directions. Alwyn whispered that the other lions in the pride were trying to find out where the kill was and one call was from a male lion nearby. He then told us that the females here would not answer back because lions sitting on a kill do not call out to other lions.

No sooner had he said this that both of the lions in front of us started to call. Alwyn laughed and said that’s what he got for speaking too soon. One lion continued eating and we moved around to get a better look at the other lion which was sleeping. A hyena showed up a few hundred yards away and began creeping closer to see if it could get in on the kill.

We moved the truck again to get closer to the kill in case something happened between the lions and the hyena. As soon as we started to move, the back left tire wobbled and made noises. Somewhere along the way, the tire had punctured and was now fully deflated. There was a spare and a jack on the truck so we didn’t worry too much and got close to the feeding lion. All of the sudden, the sleeping lion bolted upright and went after the hyena. It was shocking how quickly the lion went from bloated and panting on the ground to upright and stalking.

The one who was feeding took a few more bites and then got up. She walked right towards where I was sitting on the truck and then past me. I almost could have reached out and touched her. It was definitely a heart racing moment when the lion (seemingly) looked at me and then walked towards me.

After the lions had gone away chasing the hyena, we decided it would be a good time to change the tire. We drive a little bit away and then got down to take a look at it. As it turns out, we had a jack, a spare tire, but no tire iron. There was no way we could get the tire changed. We were several kilometers from our camp and for a brief instant many of probably had nightmarish visions of having to sleep in the truck right next to lions.

Alwyn decided to drive back to camp on the flat and while it was a long, slow, bumpy ride back, we made it. The tire iron was in the trailer and we quickly changed the tire, made a fire, and ate dinner.

As I was trying to get to sleep in my tent that night, I heard more lion calls.