Memories from my trip on Road Scholar’s Southern Africa Birding Safari, 19 Jan-2 Feb 2024.
3 March 2024
“Listen! Do you hear them? Lions are roaring very close to us, just beyond the buildings.”
Lion’s roar (sound from Pixabay)
We were about to eat dessert on our first night at Khulu Bush Camp when our guide, Sam Mushandu, alerted us to a sound in the night. We all fell silent to listen.
We had stopped to drink sundowners and watch the sun set in the wide valley of the Dete Vlei.
After sunset, we returned to camp for dinner in the open air dining room.
The sun had set two hours ago. It was quite dark. And there were lions outside. Roaring.
“Who wants to find the lions?” said Sam.
Caution flags went off in my brain but others raised their hands so I tamped down my doubts with the thought, “When will you ever get this opportunity again? Never. So go!”
We piled into the safari vehicle and zoomed down the dirt track. Sam was on the radio with James, a Khulu guide who had gone out ahead of us to find the lions. Suddenly an elephant loomed in the dark, blocking the road. We slowed and it stepped into the bush.
Then another elephant, then three, then four.
Surprised by crazy humans pelting through the dark the elephants appeared to be telling each other, “Hey! that truck is coming down the track. You’re in my way! Move into the bush!” It struck me as funny and I couldn’t stop laughing.
The elephants melted into the bush, then James radioed that he had found the lions, one male and two females. We turned around and headed toward them.
By the time we arrived the male had moved off but we found both females squinting in the bright search light. My photo shows how far away the first one was.
Fellow traveler Frank Koch got better pictures than I did. Here are both females.
What an unforgettable experience!
Grateful thanks to our guide Sam Mushandu, to James (guide at Khulu Bush Camp) who knows the habits of lions, Khulu Bush Camp itself for a wonderful stay, and Road Scholar for arranging the tour. And thank you to Frank Koch for his photos of our night safari.
p.s. In case you’re wondering what a lion looks like when it roars, here’s a video from Brookfield Zoo. Keep in mind that both males and females roar so all three may have been speaking that night in the bush, 24 January 2024.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons (night lion closeup at top), Kate St. John, Frank Koch, and Khulu Bush Camp via wetu.com)