This is very brilliantly narrated. I presume you guys must be going on open vehicle. Going through your wonderful posts on a regular basis, I always wonder if these big cats attack, or pounce on you. What precautions do you take or how do you muster courage to go as close to these big cats as possible?? Take care
Sunday morning’s game drive was so spectacular, we couldn’t expect it could be topped. Boy were we wrong! We mustered at the truck at 4:30 following afternoon tea. Michael and I were seated on the top seats of the vehicle, with what I think are the best panoramic views.
Our first sighting was the cute and funny looking warthog. I can’t help but think of The Lion King when I see these guys.
We continued on and off road for a few minutes when Milton pointed to his left and into the deep grasses we went. There! A leopard! One of only about 25 on the Londolozi concession, this boy was simply beautiful. We watched as he crossed in front of us towards a tree. In the tree were the remnants of a very recent impala kill. Up the leopard went to defend his food and have a snack. Wow!
We watched for probably an hour, Melvin changing our position to assure we continued to have a very good view. At one point we were maybe 6-8 feet from the leopard, parked directly under the tree with the remainder of his kill. He came towards our vehicle, brushing directly along the side and stopping right next to me. I could hear him breathing. I held my breath and he looked up at me. “No movement!” said Melvin. “Don’t move,” whispered Leslie, sitting directly in front of me, in case I hadn’t heard Melvin. We waited. Seconds seemed like minutes. Then…Woosh! Up the tree, right beside my shoulder he went. Whew! My heart was pounding. That was too close for comfort. The leopard went back to eating up in the tree, finally bringing the remainder of the impala back down into the grass to finish his meal. Time for us to move along but a moment I will remember forever.
Later that night one of the rangers who was in the vehicle directly across from us, said when he saw the leopard looking up at me, he just kept repeating to himself, “I hope that woman doesn’t move.” He said he’d never seen such a close call. I am glad I didn’t hear that until the next day.
We drove towards the sinking sun, seeing some grazing kudu and came back upon the same posing cheetah from our morning drive, still hanging out in the same spot. It was is if he knew we’d come back for the sunset shots. What a beautiful sight.
As we headed back to camp, the sun was setting, the sky turned a beautiful glowing pink, the trees dark silhouettes against the horizon, and we could hear a herd of elephants on our left. It was getting dark and we could barely make out the shapes but their deep, low rumbles, and the youngster’s screeches were distinctive.
The evening activity was a wonderful outdoor dinner in the Boma, a beautiful, candle and latern lit outdoor space lined with reeds. It was the perfect way to end another incredible and unforgettable day.
Written and Photographed by: Gayle Robin – In and Out of Africa
Thank you! Yes, the vehicle is open both on top and all sides. The animals are very used to the vehicles and do not see them as a threat or a predator, nor as a food source. They are basically indifferent. There are saftey rules however which our brilliant guide and tracker ensure we were aware of including: never stand up in the vehicle as it breaks the silhouette the animaks are used to; never leave the vehicle; never reach out to the animals; no sudden movement; no shouting or loud noises. Our hearts did quicken during the first couple of game drives when the cats came very close to the vehicle but eventually we got used to their proximity and we trusted your guide and tracker who know these animals and their behaviour very well.