We were lucky on Safari. We had a vehicle all to ourselves for the first three days. That meant we made all the decisions! The most important of which comes when we’re at an animal sighting. We’ve been there for a few minutes and other cars start coming over. The animals aren’t really moving and the driver asks, “Okay. Are you happy to stay and watch, or move on?”
This is tricky. I’ll tell you why. Three examples:
First, a cheetah sighting.
It was us plus three other cars. The cheetah was just chilling, mediating probably. She was absolutely beautiful. All curves and attitude. Behind her was a large heard of wildebeest but she was paying no attention to them. She looked fed, said our driver, Daniel. The cars started leaving one by one, but Jack and I were enamored by her so we stayed. She was so demanding of attention.
When it was just us – all of a sudden – she gets up and quickly turns towards the wildebeest. Our driver freaks out and starts the car. Jack and I have no idea what’s going on. I’m bumping around on the floor of the car, where I was trying to get “a better picture” (which looked like the other 1,000 I took).
“She’s going for it”, Daniel says.
The car was going so fast, I lost focus of the cheetah. When I found her again she was stalking the crap out of a little wildebeest calf. A second later she was gunning for it. Not to get too graphic but the cheetah caught up the calf and locked her jaw on her throat. Then, she took a comfortable seat and waited until the calf stopped fighting. The rest of wildebeest watched from the side. They couldn’t do a thing.
Real circle of life stuff.
Maybe this would have happened if the other cars had stayed, I don’t know.
The second example is the cub sighting. OMG, the cubs! The best, cutest, most adorable creatures in the world.
Lions are most active early in the morning. Daniel knows where different prides should be so we would head straight there during our morning game drives. A few cars were already there watching two lionesses take in the gorgeous morning sun. We joined them at a distance. We (“Daniel”) could see from afar that the cubs were hiding in the bushes nearby. They were playing and looked eager to come out of hiding. The cars got bored of the lionesses and started leaving one by one. Suckers!
Then, I swear I saw the lioness nod her head as a signal to the cubs that it was now safe for them to come out. And they did! All at once! It was spectacular! They were jumping on each other, trying to tackle their moms, stalking each other, scratching their backs against trees, one of them even jumped on a tree. We played with them all morning. Well, that’s what it felt like anyway.
Again, I’m not sure if this would have happened anyway, but I am even more sure with this one situation that they waited for the abundance of cars to leave.
There are some times you just have to move on though. Third example is when we saw a leopard up on a tree, having a rest. He was pushed up there after spotting a pride of lions. The lions below were not moving any time soon, so you could tell the leopard was going nowhere. I mean, the leopard is my favorite large cat but once we got our fill (saw him stretch, yawn and growl), we moved on.
I’m not sure what the right decision, but I do know that all our best safari moments came when we were just being.