Circa 2016 – The Lion Pride
We have both seasonal & mobile camps in the Serengeti. Seasonal camps is when we take a few weeks to establish camp and ensure running hot and cold water, bath tubs etc. Mobile Camping is exciting to say the least. Smaller tents with bush showers and a tighter supporting unit. You move camp, guests in tow. Most times everything goes according to plan but at times it uh.. kind of gets challenging.
Circa 2016 – We were moving our mobile from Ndutu to Seronera. We had one day to do so and come day break the guests departed for the endless plains. After a full days game drive with packed lunch, they would drive in to camp with a beautiful sun downer awaiting their return. The grass was high and prey was spread thin. It would be a challenge for the large Seronera prides to keep themselves properly fed.
It was raining cats and dogs and the road, which under normal conditions would test our truck was now non existent. There was a sea of water shimmering till the horizon. We had no idea where the track was. We packed camp and headed out into the blue yonder. We drove two vehicles in front of the truck as we desperately tried to keep it on the track. It was slow going and the distance that would normally take three hours took eight. We arrived at the Seronera campsite at around 16h30 that evening and immediately started to erect camp. By seven the clients too had arrived and by now, working through the rains in high grass, we barely managed to get their tents and the kitchen up. The dining would be erected the next day.
At camp everybody gravitates to the kitchen and come 20h30 guests and the staff were milling around Hassan Balo’s tent. Two of our 4×4 Land-cruisers were parked close to the kitchen and the truck was but a few feet further. Where the dining tent was supposed to be now stood a naked light. It was from the halo of this bulb that the lioness came.
There were two, slung low, in aggressive mode. The head guide, sitting in the drivers seat, saw them first. He screamed ‘lions’; started the vehicle and drove straight into them. The lionesses weren’t expecting such quick and decisive action on the part of such puny humans, which happened only because one of us was in the car with the keys in place. But they weren’t to know that. By the time they tried to side step the land cruiser, other guides had also found their vehicles and were careering out after them; pushing them back. Thats when we realized that the entire pride had surrounded the kitchen. There was one crouching behind the truck and another two lay hidden behind the kitchen tent.
The guests of course were thrilled for lions at camp was a moment to be cherished but we decided then that our vehicles would patrol the perimeter of the camp every evening. The last thing we ever wanted was to be surprised by a pride of hungry lionesses. This practice continues till date in every camp of ours.
Two of our esteemed guests who were with us on that fateful day write,
“Ramblings from a day, I won’t forget
My wife and I had just reached the Seronara camp after our ‘usual’ game drive. We were through half our Africa trip with Saad. By now this ‘usual’ African safari experience had already been amongst the best experiences of any wilderness. It was already studded with – sightings of an exhausting burst of a Cheetah hunt , failed attempt by a pride of lions trying to hunt a giraffe calve and the frolicking giants of the Rift Valley- the African Elephants.
It was our first evening at the Sero camp since we had just driven in from Nndutu to Seronara. This drive in itself is through the wilderness, laced with its share of high-adrenaline moments.
We, Saad and the guests, had gathered around the Kitchen as we caught up on the day’s incredible stories. Each had an experience more incredible than the other. The Jung’s as usual, were in their best persona of being the incredible hosts and friends we could have asked for. Catching up on the day’s wild offerings over some whisky/tea; we were eagerly looking forward to the rest of the trip.
Suddenly, all the flattery of the moment was abruptly interrupted. We were spooked out of our wits by the glaring lights of revving safari vehicles and loud warning calls by the Maasai staff at camp. We had not expected or experienced anything like this before. When we gathered our attention, we were looking at some Lionesses and their cubs from where we were sitting, not less than 50 feet away.
It took time for this to sink in. But then we realised we were the guests the land of Lions and the wildest of the wilderness. And we had been surrounded by a Pride of Lions in THEIR home . Surreal. Just insane. Eventually, after much doing, the Pride was chased away and the staff guarded the camp through the night. Thanks to Saad and the camp staff, we live to vividly remember and share this story and many more. 🙂
I guess these are once in a lifetime experiences and we crave to go back to Africa”. Bobby Thomas
“One evening after our game drive, we were all huddled around the kitchen tent eating a hearty dinner as it poured heavily. The usual jokes, laughter and dinner conversations ensued. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we heard a Masai guard raise their traditional alarm, we saw the camp staff had started reviving the engines of the safari vehicles and driving them at full speed towards us. Startled by all the sudden hullabaloo, we looked around to see what was going on. That’s when we saw the lioness.. As they chased her away, we realised something that still sends shivers down my spine to this day: we had been surrounded by a pride of 8-9 lions. Given how strategically they had positioned themselves around us, it was quite evident that they had come with the intention to attack!” Chitra Raghavan