I actually have a recording on this day and it starts as such:
"Today is September 11th. I woke up at 2 and then could not get back to sleep because a small hippo (Sal) was in bed snoring away with me. So we had our wake up call at 5:30 even though both of us were awake. Well, actually no that's not true. Sal slept for nine minutes *giggles while saying the next part* I don't even know why he tried when I saw there was only 10 minutes left. I looked over and saw him try to sleep and thought *whispers*, 'ten minutes?!'."
So even though this day started on limited sleep, at least it started out with a giggle, right?
We asked Tony if we could head back to camp early because we hadn’t gotten any sleep and wanted to nap in the afternoon. We asked to be back by 11, unless we found something really good. Even getting back at 11, when you leave at six, is five hours in a vehicle and that’s a long time. We figured we were going to be there for four more days and we didn’t want to get run down. He said sure.
The first thing we saw were three male lions, sleeping. This is when I tried to tell Tony that I don’t like to get too close, but of course he got closer than I would have liked. What else is new?
Thankfully these were just sleeping and not really interested in us at all. They’d put their heads up every once in a while and open their eyes, but that was about it. Then we drove down a little further and saw there was a couple of cars watching two female lions. So apparently the story was that the three sleeping lions were sub-adult males. When the three got kicked out of the pride these two sub adult females went with them. The five formed their own coalition. I don’t know how normal this is, because I thought usually it’s only the males that get kicked out and form a group. Anyway, I found it interesting.
So when we drove up we saw the two female lions were trying to hunt while the lazy boys slept. They were walking around spreading out a little, watching zebra, but then would sit and watch.
All the sudden one, who had been in the tall grass a comfortable (for me) distance from the road, got up and started walking toward the road…AND US.
Then, faster than you could lie and say, “I promise I am not food!”, she was next to us.
This was the closest I’d ever been to a lion. And she was a biggie. Sal put his head out a little bit taking pics and I whisper-yelled at him to bring it back in the vehicle because I was afraid it would distract her and put her attention on us. It didn’t, but again – this was the closest I’d been. I couldn’t blame Tony for that – she came right to us.
So this is a crazy story that happened right after she laid down. There was a vehicle that pulled past us and stopped. Now this car was in front of us, which means still in front of the lion. I would say the vehicle was only a few car lengths (certainly less than a city short block) ahead of us with no vehicles between us. Well. It stopped and the DRIVER GOT OUT OF HIS CAR TO PUT IT IN FOUR WHEEL DRIVE (he had to adjust something on the tire). You guys. YOU GUYS. This was one of the craziest things I’d seen someone do in a while. The lion perked up and watched him, too. Keep in mind that the steering is on the right there, so this means he opened his door, walked around the front of his vehicle, and went to the back tire – LION SIDE – to make the adjustment. I was blown away. Gobsmacked, if you will.
This lead to a quick disclaimer to Tony that went something like this:
“Tony, don’t ever do anything like that and expect me to save you because I’m terrified of lions and that would be a stupid thing to do.”
He readily agreed. At least we were on the same page!
Finally she got up and went with her sister and they halfheartedly tried to hunt a warthog. I’m happy to say they were not successful. Tony had told us just a little bit before then that when they kill warthogs they can’t suffocate them so….there are a lot of bad noises. No thank you!
We then drove all the way over to where the Tanzania border is on the other side of the river and saw all the wildebeest and zebra on the other side congregating. It looked like hundreds and they were potentially going to cross at some point. Now I did not have on my wish list that I wanted to watch a crossing because I am a wimp and don’t want to see all the guts and gore that I figured would be associated with it. No thank you. Also, people wait there for hours and hours, and I’d rather spend my time seeing other stuff! Like birds:
I loved that every day we had breakfast outdoors. After our meal we drove down a little bit and saw two steenbok (antelope) at the Sand River. This river is very shallow and mostly sand, so no crocodiles. We saw both males cross. So after that, we told Edward (who loved to tease me) that we had seen a crossing. We just didn’t tell him it was only two antelope until he congratulated us. Those antelopes were smart fellas to cross in the no-croc zone.
And let’s not forget the goober wildebeest interaction we had…
We then went back to camp for lunch and met two of the people who would be joining us for the elephant portion of the trip. We went back to our tent and I could not sleep, but Sal slept for an hour and he was a little hippo again, snoring happily.
At the very beginning of the afternoon drive I was very sleepy. There were a couple things to see:
I woke up quickly when we got the best sighting at Malaika thus far… a male leopard! His name was Lorgorgol and he was magnificent! He walked past our car a few times and we got to spend a good amount of time with him. I was so excited because this was the first male leopard we had ever seen in Kenya, and second overall. They are so much bigger than the females; still smaller than lions, though. And let’s not forget the main reason: they are striking!
He was walking around a lot, going into the ravines, walking by vehicles, etc. He gave us all a good show. There were quite a few vehicles there and towards the end I felt a little bad. It was clear he wasn’t bothered by the cars, but I wanted to give him a break. Prepare yourself for a lot of leopard pics/videos and meet Lorgorgol:
We left then and spent some time with ellies.
We then had sundowners and had a beautiful sunset. Probably the best one of the trip.
There were thunderstorms in the distance and even a rainbow.
We drove back in the dark, had a quick dinner, then went to bed at 8 PM hoping to get some sleep. What a great day it was, and we already crossed off something on the extra wish list – a male leopard – score!