The giraffe looked uneasy. They were all staring at something low down. We followed their gaze, as well as the direction of the man's pointing finger. There, beneath a bush, was a shadowy shape. It shifted slightly. Indistinct as it was, it was nevertheless unmistakable. It was a lion.
and there was another lion. Just lying there.
To think that a minute ago, we had been out of our car, less than 300 metres from these awesome animals.
Lazily, they lolled there. The only movement was an occasional languid tail flick or ear twitch. The male was almost totally hidden behind part of the bush and one of the females was lying on her back with her huge paws in the air. Another lifted her head up briefly.
The giraffe were alert and worried looking, but these cats looked far too laid back to stir themselves to a chase. Another car came by and we showed the driver what we were watching. He happily told us that now he just needed to see a leopard to complete his big five tally for the day.
By now it was two o'clock and we still had not had lunch. We decided to go back to camp, have a drink and lunch, and return later to see if the lions had roused themselves. The giraffe had since retreated out of sight.
After a gin and tonic and a cheese and salad sandwich, we preprepared our dinner. Into a saucepan went chicken pieces, along with balsamic vinegar, a crumbled stock cube, diced onion, garlic, olive oil and brown sugar. While the chicken simmered to a gentle parboil, I chopped a bundle fresh green beans into another saucepan. Then, having locked the saucepans securely in the deck cupboard, we headed out again.
The lions were still there. Still flopped out. Tails twitched from time to time. A leg stretched in the air occasionally.
One lady sat up briefly and looked hard in our direction,
but all too soon, she plopped heavily down again.
We stayed until the lengthening shadows reminded us to leave.
As we neared the turnoff to Tamboti, we saw our faithful friend in the road.
He was lapping up the water that had leaked from another car's radiator
The sun was setting as we turned towards Tamboti
We lingered a little too long, watching it disappear behind the hill.
We were the last in a convoy of cars returning to camp. A second after our back wheels had crossed the entrance grid, the clock on the dashboard turned to 6.01. We had made it back in time. Just.
Chacma lit the braai and uncorked a bottle of Shiraz. We had no sooner settled in our chairs, than battalions of bugs began to bombard us. The electric lights had entranced them. We switched off the lights. The bugs flew away.
That night, as we ate our marinated chicken and lightly buttered green beans, above us, billions of brilliant stars blazed from a sky that was totally untainted by the lights of human habitation.