It’s hard for me to put into words how I feel about Africa. How can I describe the tranquility of falling asleep to the roar of lions as a bedtime lullaby? Or how my heart jumps when I’m startled awake by a hippo munching into his first bite of breakfast right outside my tent? How can I describe the myriad of colors that spread across the sky when sun comes up over the acacia trees?
But there is one story from my trip that I’ll never forget how to tell.
On our last day in Africa, we headed out on the Mara in search of another full day of adventure, when we came across a cape buffalo that had been tracked and killed by a pride of lionesses. It appeared they had eaten their fill and were resting happily under the shade of acacia trees in the distance, giving way to the several large vultures circling overhead and the three hyenas that were steadily approaching.
Suddenly, three small jackals appeared and several Maribu Storks swooped in and landed, looking undeniably like unsuccessful undertakers. They started casing the site looking down their noses at their fellow scavengers. The hyenas loped closer and closer to the kill, until they were finally able to begin the work of dismantling the carcass and without hesitation, the rest followed suit.
As grisly as it sounds, it was one of the most amazing sites I’ve ever witnessed. To see the order and balance of nature was magnificent.
One of the lionesses got peeved that her kill was being devoured, so she made her way back to the carcass and chased off the offending diners. Thinking she had been successful, she turned her back to leave and the scavengers moved as one slowly back to the carcass. She stopped. They stopped. She turned and chased. They ran. Then the entire scene replayed itself over and over again until the Great Hunter got bored with the whole game and let them have her kill.
Shortly after we moved to join her friends under the trees, we watched as her elegant gait moved through the golden grass towards our car. I sat holding my breath as she came to within a couple of feet of me. We looked each other over. We had a moment of connection that I cannot describe. To be so close to a beautiful predator – face to face – is unlike anything I will ever experience. She brushed against the car as she turned to move, and as I slowly let it out my breath, I realized that I had just witnessed a moment so special it must be a miracle.
Sure, maybe luck was behind this, but I’m convinced we had the best trackers and guides from the best camps in Kenya to help lead us there. I absolutely love the camps we stayed at, not only for their small, intimate size, but also because they are in conservancies, they employ local people, they contribute to the economy of the area, and they give back enormously to the local villages.
So maybe I don’t know how best to describe the innocence of a baby rhino’s tiny cry trying to keep up with its mother, or how distinctive the sharp, acrid smell of an acacia tree is; but it’s only because Kenya is a veritable feast for all the senses that must be witnessed in person to truly understand.
Without Tim and Tana, and the rest of Safari Experts, these miracles never would have happened. Safari Experts knows their territory, their clients, and how provide the best service we’ve ever experienced!
By: Doug and Wendy Preston, Kenya 2017