From September 27, 2007
Current mood: nostalgic
Category: Travel and Places
Dramatic Adventures in Zimbabwe Part 1: Wild Lions in Hwange
In order to read this story you need to see the whole picture. In Zimbabwe, the driver sits on the right side of the car. Also, Oscar was driving, Mary was in the front seat, and the back seat from Left to right was Jesse, Kathleen, Lisa.
as witnessed by Mary:
Well, we were off to a nice start on our second day of “Vacation” and our first day at Hwange National Park. We were totally excited to get into the park and see all the wild animals. We woke up at 5:30 am so we could go into the park at 6… that was our first mis-adventure, the park didn’t open until 6:30. So we waited there, by the gate, walking around to see the animals who were walking by to get their first morning drink from the local watering hole. We saw Zebra, Giraffe, Impala, and wild dogs all from afar as they walked in the field on the other side of the gate.
FINALLY, it was time to go in! As Oscar drove into the park we started to see more and more animals up close. Giraffe are beautiful, and, contrary to what I originally thought, Zebra’s have no trouble blending their black and white stipes into the African terrain. We were stopped by an Ostrach in the road and later by a herd of Cape Buffalo. At the first watering hole we stopped at we saw hippos who were either mating or doing a choreographed dance; my three partners in crime (although, I’m not a criminal, so maybe I shouldn’t be included in this) decided to walk past the “do not cross” sign, right past the huge piles of Elephant dung that were as tall as their knees and right up to the water where the hippos were enjoying their morning swim. I almost had a heart attach before they were safely back in the car!
After play time with the hippos(at about 8:20), we skirted around a little more, following signs to the Shumba (Lion) Picnic where Oscar thought there would be a nice veiw… we didn’t get very far before Oscar stopped the car. He reversed about 15 feet and turned off the engine and, like was so common for Oscar, sat back in his chair with folded arms and turned to me and smiled…
“There’s a Lion” he said.
“What, where, how did you see it?” we were more than excited!
Off in the distance on the right of the car we all spotted the so called “Lion”. It looked like a stump! After sitting there for a minute, straining to get the best view from our seats Oscar said he would move the car so we could get a better look…
NOTHING… the car wouldn’t start!
So here we are, the car won’t start, so we’re stuck 20 feet away from a stump… which might be a Lion.
About 20 minutes pass, the Lion/stump hasn’t moved one muscle. (If you’ll recall, Jesse was on the left side of the car, opposite the Lion.) Jesse decides to open the door, thinking the noise would get the Lion, if it was a Lion, to run off. He opens his door and a water bottle falls out; he quickly picks it up and slams the door… no movement from the Lion/stump.
Another few minutes pass, Oscar has figured out the problem with the vehicle, but there is no way to get out and fix it with a Lion standing right there… Jesse again opens the door and steps onto the ledge of the truck. He looks hard at the Lion/stump (I was looking behind him to see if there was anything coming from that direction) after a few seconds, he stepped down to tell us that he was sure it was only a stump; as he was stepping down, he slipped a little causing a new type of noise.
All doubt about the Lion/stump was removed as the Lion jumped up and charged with a roar at poor Jesse! He scrambled back into the car and the Lion stood there all 8 feet of him, about 10 feet away, watching us.
NOT OVER YET, FOLKS…
The Lion stood there, intimidating us for a few minutes before he started walking away slowly. After about 45 minutes, he was far enough away for Oscar to attempt what Jesse did, this time on the SAME SIDE OF THE CAR as the Lion.
Before this trip I wasn’t aware that Lions, both male and female, travel in pairs; luckily, Oscar was aware of this. He cautiously got out of the truck and looked around for the second Lion. This guy wasn’t hard to spot. He jumped out and roared at Oscar, who scrambled back into the truck. The second Lion was a bit smaller and darker than the first, so he hid out of sight of the four passengers after he charged, but, luckily, Oscar could still see him.
Around 10:30 (we’d been in this spot for about 2 hours), the second Lion was far enough away for Oscar to get out and fix the starter connection. The three girls were all watching out in different directions while Jesse stood outside with a coat… we’d heard a story of a women who protected herself from an attack by a bear when she threw a coat over its eyes…
Sigh… we made it out of there alive! Oscar told the guard at the gate of our exciting encounter then we all went to take a nap. Later that evening, we went out again to see the animals taking their last sips at the watering hole. At the gate on the way in, the evening guard started to tell Oscar a story about a group of people who escaped from Lions that very morning… turns out, the morning guard had told the afternoon guard and they were both telling visitors to the park our story all day!
Just another Dramatic Adventure with DAT
On a side note:
We also had the great privilege to see a rare female Lion on her way back from hunting. She was crossing the street and we had to stop in the road to wait for her to cross. At about 6 feet long, she was the most beautiful animal I have ever seen! I wish we had gotten a photo, it just happened so fast.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more Dramatic Adventure’s from Zimbabwe to be posted here at www.myspace.com/dramaticadventure.