Gary wanted us to watch the sun rise from the top of a bluff, on foot. We were well on the road by 6am and on top of the bluff fifteen minutes later. Gary poured us a cup of coffee as the sun peeked over the horizon, and we listened to the sounds of the bush as it woke up. The first one to greet us was a klipspringer, a little antelope that bounces all over the rocks so quickly he “springs” from one to another. These animals have a little pad of flesh that grows in between their hooves on the bottom of their feet, giving them a softer landing and more staying power on the slippery rocks.
“Did you hear the lions roaring last night?” Gary asked us as soon as we reached the breakfast table, around 5:45 in the morning. We had, though at the time we thought it could have easily been our over-active imaginations. “There are four brothers in this territory. We saw one of them last night, remember? At the moment they’re spread out, but they were roaring all night long, locating each other. We estimate they will meet up sometime this morning. You’ll want to be there to see it when they do.”
So we slammed a cup of coffee, grabbed a danish, and, as soon as our safari mates arrived, jumped in the Land Rover to set off for the lions.
This story is dedicated to Ethan, who turns 7 years old today. Happy birthday, sweet nephew! May you have many excellent safaris in your future.
Bellies full and Table Mountain crossed off our to-do list, we left Cape Town and flew 2½ hours east to begin the next phase of our vacation in South Africa: an actual, honest-to-goodness, wild animal safari in the bush. We were headed to Kruger National Park, or rather just outside it, where many people opt for a self-drive safari. Us, on the other hand… we didn’t like the idea of wandering aimlessly around a savannah loaded with dangerous animals. We kind of wanted an expert to handle that.