On Safari: King of the Jungle

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On safari in South Africa last spring, we were lucky enough to see one rather docile lion on our very first game drive. We thought that might be our only lion sighting, which more than satisfied us; as safari first-timers, we had few expectations. Little did we know what was in store for us the next day.

It was nearly dusk again when we came upon the open field. He was the first sign of life we saw, but as we got closer (from the security of our open-topLand Rover), we saw a small pride of lions out, likely lounging before heading out to hunt.

Lions are a funny bunch. They’re one of the most powerful, fearsome creatures on land, and yet in some respects, they seem much like any domestic cats: aloof and completely withdrawn.

Maybe it’s just humans they don’t like, considering they draped their bodies over each other as they napped in an intimate way, almost as if cuddling.

Not everyone remained entirely unsuspicious of us, though. One male—tell me he doesn’t resemble Scar—glanced our way and started to meander over in our direction.

Though it was rapidly growing darker (hence the blur….I didn’t exactly want to pop a flash in this big guy’s face) and we were squinting to see, it didn’t take 20/20 vision to tell that he did not look happy.

“Menacing” might be more the word I’d use to describe him. Or maybe “hungry.”

Then, he stopped, sat down and ate us. No, just kidding. I think he was only yawning, though here it looks like he was emitting one Earth-shaking roar.

He turned around once more, then plopped his whole body on the ground, as if he had given up hope on our vehicle full of tasty morsels.

Later, he even posed for us. (I asked him to show me “wistful.”) The rest of the pride went back to ignoring our mere existence.

Meanwhile, we were all happy we’d live to see another day.

COMMENTS
  • March 21, 2011

    The lions made my heart beat faster and took my breath away. They seemed not to even care about our existence as they sauntered past our vehicle not more than 10 feet away. Then they laid down in the middle of the road next to and on top of each other. What a happy family. Love your shots. When do we go back?

    • March 21, 2011
      Kristin

      Next year! We have a wedding west of Cape Town next March, and I have enough miles to buy each of our tickets, so I’m hoping to take Scott around the Western Cape for a week or so, then do a safari in Namibia. Some blogger friends saw 26 lions in one day in Namibia–even more wildlife than in Kruger!

  • March 21, 2011
    Stephanie Parnell

    I want to hug them. It’s so crazy to me that such a beautiful, snuggly looking animal with characterstics much like a house cat could pretty much kill me instantly (but I’m sure would much rather play with me first). They are so beautiful.

    • March 21, 2011
      Kristin

      Haha, I have this vision of them batting you around like an inflatable ball! But yes, I know what you mean–how can creatures this pretty be so violent?

  • March 21, 2011

    Ha, I love the pics of them rolling on their backs. Doesn’t it make you just want to rub their belly? 😉 And Scar really does do wistful well, lol.

  • March 21, 2011
    Ellen

    Amazing blog! Lions are incredible creatures. I remember a night safari I did in Kenya some years ago. We woke up a bunch of lions sleeping under a tree- lets just say they were not happy with us flashing heavy light on them in the middle of their good night sleep. The roar from the head leader was load enough to wake up the whole park! I so want to do that again!!!

    • March 21, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m dying to see them sleeping in trees at night…though I hope we can approach them quietly enough not to piss them off =)

  • March 21, 2011

    Cute- he does look like Scar. I love the poses he is giving you!

  • March 21, 2011

    I loved the lions. So regal. And yes! to your safari in Namibia plan. Will you go to Etosha? I really loved Etosha. We had great lion and cheetah spotting, and the pan provides such a surreal backdrop. My favorite part of it all, however, was the lit-up watering holes at night—amazing!

    • March 21, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s what we hope to do, yes! It will all depend on where we are with both of our jobs then, but if we can afford to take two weeks off, then I’d love to do a week on the Western Cape and a week to 10 days around Etosha!

  • March 21, 2011
    Michelle

    Oh you are so lucky! We only saw one female lion way off in the distance during our 2 days at Kruger. One thing I definitely hope to see a lot of on my next safari – which is some time in the I have no idea when future! 🙂

    • March 21, 2011
      Kristin

      You’re not the first to say that…I’m so surprised by all the people I’ve talked to who saw only a lion or two during a full week’s stay in Kruger! We were in a private park, Ngala, on the fringe of Kruger, so maybe that’s why we had good luck with the cats?

  • March 21, 2011
    SVV

    Those felines are haunting. The two images in the middle that made eye contact with your lens in particular strike deep at something inside.

  • March 22, 2011

    Great pictures!! Maybe I’m crazy, but I think they look cuddly!

  • March 22, 2011

    What an absolutely unforgettable experience!!! Kruger is a travel must! AMAZING pics!

  • March 24, 2011
    Joy A

    I’m surprised at how loose their skin is — especially apparent in photo that is 3rd from top. My understanding is that domestic cats and wild lions really do behave very much the same way. Difference is that my little kitties are not capable of biting my head off when I annoy them. Gorgeous, stunningly beautiful animals, truly kings.

  • March 24, 2011

    I wanna rub the belly.

  • March 25, 2011

    omg – these pics are gorgeous! So awesome.. I def have a safari on my bucket list! 🙂

  • April 7, 2011

    Roar!! How amazing are they! I agree with you – they totally are just like domestic cats… but with bigger teeth. And the ability to eat you.

  • February 22, 2013

    Thaks sharing. This is fantastic! We’re trying to plan our own African safari now, and I stumbled on your pictures. Glad to know the game is more plentiful than I think I was expecing.

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