Before we begin, I want to make this as dramatic as possible. I want us all to be in tears of joy by the end of it. In order to do this I need you to be fully immersed in the story, all senses focused. So, I need you to go over to Spotify or YouTube and put on this song, then come back and continue reading. Now, I fully understand if your just not arsed, or you are on your way to work and don’t have time for this malarkey, I’d be exactly the same.
Side note, I’ve had to listen to the same song about 10 times trying to stay in the dramatic mood while write this blog… Lets begin…
We set off for our second safari of the day in Chobe national park. The first had taken place earlier in the morning at 5 am and was a huge success, we had already seen a lot of animals like the Giraffe, the Elephant, the Buffalo and the Hyena among others. This was pretty good for the first 3 hours out in the bush. My dream, obviously, had been to see the mighty Lion and the incredibly rare Wild Dog (did you know that when they hunt they have a 90% success rate?! They are the most successful hunting mammal in all the kingdom). But I knew how hard it was to track them, so I wasn’t too disappointed that we hadn’t seen them. We decided to head out for the evening safari anyway, on the off chance.
Our master guide, Shakes, stopped his big 4×4 at Sedudu Gate, the ‘human entrance’ to this beautiful animal kingdom. “I know you have been on the Safari this morning my friends, so please tell me what animals you want to see, so that we don’t waste anytime.” “Lions and Wild Dogs please bruu!” we said, (classic demanding tourists). “My friend, I will try my best to track them but, seeing a wild dog is a once in a lifetime experience, they are very rare.” Well there goes that plan.
So we set out and sure enough through the incredible knowledge of Shakes, within 30 minutes on the tracks, we had spotted 3 female Lionesses.. Ahhhh this is it we did it Shakes!!! Thank you! Thank you!! We have finally seen Lions! They had just killed and eaten a Water Buck and were sleeping it off under the shade of a tree away from the heat of the afternoon sun.
The adrenaline that courses through you when you first see a Lion is crazy, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as the fear fills you, it’s almost like some prehistoric biological fight or flight instinct comes surging through your body, it knows immediately that this animal is a predator even though you’ve never seen one before and it forces you into a state of high alert, ready to run for you life at any moment.
We spent the next hour parked about 5 meters away from the snoozing queens of the Savannah just snapping shots and admiring the view. The whole time you’re just like, wow, is this real? Am I actually here, only 5 meters away from a Lion? You dream about this kind of stuff as a kid… To actually experience it is something else.
Eventually, the skies started to dim as the the bright sun started turn a blood orange and began to dip under the horizon, “its time to head home” said Shakes, so we headed back to Sedudu Gate, passing elephants bathing in the river near by and birds perched on branches singing as the sun set below the horizon. This is the life… All of a sudden two other 4×4 jeeps raced passed and fired up ahead of us on the tracks. At first I thought they were just racing each other having the craic and Shakes goes, “they are crazy”, but then in that instant as I was looking up further ahead, I saw a pack of animals move across the tracks and the two 4×4’s screeched to a halt…no…could it be?… HOLY SHIT!! WILD DOGS!!…Nooo wayyy!?! (I still get goose bumps when I think back to this moment, I have them right now as I write this). Shakes bolted the jeep racing towards the pack before they headed back into the bush. There they were… just casually trotting along the side of the tracks not taking any notice to the 3 jeeps full of tourists snapping there cameras like mad at them. The pack had pups too!! How incredible is this day!?
It truly was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. Just this awesome sense of gratitude and wonder for what we had experienced and how lucky we had been that evening. As I sat in the 4×4, after seeing the Wild Dogs, my eyes began to fill with tears. This world is absolutely incredible with all its beauty and all its diversity. Everything manages to co-exist in this crazy complex system, when you look at it on paper you wonder how it’s all possible and it just blows my mind and always will. It’s only when you go and see and experience it all first hand that you really and truly get a greater understanding for this Earth we live on and how if we don’t protect it, there will literally be nothing left for anything. I don’t want to be part of the species that caused it and stood by and watched as it all ended. So, I implore you to go see Botswana, go see how truly magnificent this Earth really is and I guarantee you will come back a better person, full of hope and positivity.
(If you want to see some of the shots from my time in Botswana, go check my ‘Travelled To’ page)