On a late afternoon game drive in Chobe National Park, just when we had all but given up hope of seeing a lion, there she was, majestic and beautiful. Our safari guide was the first to see the lioness, making her stealthy way down the hill through the long grass, towards the road.
We stopped, and our guide Kembo turned off the engine. She seemed oblivious to us, her eyes firmly fixed on this distant giraffe, otherwise known as 'dinner'.
We sat watching her in silence for around twenty minutes. The only sounds were our whispers and the clicking of our cameras. She would advance a few steps, then sit, then advance again, never for a moment taking her eyes off her prey.
As she padded across the road in front of our parked safari truck we could see that she had recently given birth, though a later search for the cubs was to prove fruitless even though others had sighted them.
She sat down in the shade of the thicket where she would be less noticeable, still holding her head high, and waited, keeping her eyes fixed on the giraffe. At one point she rose to stand, tail up and pointing like a dog, and we thought she might have been ready to attack, but we were wrong.
She settled down again and turned to look straight at us. Look at that photo in the middle of the bottom line of my collage. Doesn't she look as if she's grinning at us?
"Just kidding", she seems to be saying.
It was time to move on, but shortly afterward, in the last rays of daylight, we came upon this big male watching the sun go down. He looked right out of Central Casting, rolling and posing his magnificent physique for the cameras, and at around 6 meters away he was so close!
When our eyes met my knees went to jelly - and not in a good way!
This was our campsite for the night. No fences. Just a canvas floor and a zippered opening between us and the lions, buffalo, hippos, elephants, snakes and bugs.
How did this city chick find herself sleeping on a bedroll in a tent pitched on the red African soil under a sky lit by a million more twinkling stars than I've ever seen before?
blame thank this 'Hokie girl' for opening my eyes to the wonderful experiences I can have if I just grab a little courage.
Camping purists would scoff at a camping experience like ours, with Kalahari Safari Tours, where the tents were already pitched and the bedrolls fitted with fresh sheets, the meals were cooked, and there was a canvas water receptical between every two tents for washing our faces.
For me, though, this was just perfect.
Except, maybe, for the bush toilet 😊🚽