The lion. King of the Jungle. Not sure about jungle, but certainly King of the Savannah. We were fortunate to see lions every day on our safari. Most often this included at least one male and one female, several times we got to see lion cubs, and on our last day in Lake Nakuru Game Park we sat and observed a pride of twelve lions; 3 males, 4 females and 5 cubs. The thing about about many of the animals you see on a safari, including the lion, is that they are completely non-chalant about a bunch of humans watching them from a vehicle parked 20 feet away. They are magnificent beasts and it was always difficult to drive away from a viewing spot. While every lion viewing was special, our best lion story was an auditory experience, not a visual one.
For the first three nights of the safari we stayed in a camp just outside the Maasai Mara Game Preserve. This camp included a large structure for dining, a patio and outdoor eating area, and about ten permanent tents. Our tent was very comfortable and spacious, and we felt very secure in it. The wooden door locked, and we were able to lower shades over the screens, which served as windows. A path in front of the tents dropped off to a stream; about 30 feet away.
We had just gotten into bed the second night of the trip and were reading when we heard the very loud, very close and very distinctive roar of a lion. We looked at each other with wide “Holy Sh…t!!!” eyes. Adding to our sens of unease was the fact that ten minutes earlier we had decided to turn up a couple of the window shades to allow some fresh air into the tent. We were not about to get out of bed now, that’s for sure. A second and a third roar kept us frozen in place. All three sounded as though the lion was outside on the path. Somehow, Mike was able to sleep well that night. Sharon, not so much.
In the morning I checked the streambed and found tracks of a large animal in the sand. Proof enough for me that the owners of the camp didn’t pull a Disney trick on us by playing a tape of a lion roar. I can hear that roar to this day.