Day 31 - morning
Temperature: 35 Celsius
Weather: Blue sky, hot
By holding a long skinny wood stick with one hand and my camera with the other one, I followed in the footsteps of the guide right in front of me! We had formed a single line: Michel with the rest of the small group was right behind me!
The sun had risen and was shining high above the sky. Nature was awakening and birds could be heard singing all around me. I was surrounded by wilderness and anticipated any minute the sight of lions and lionesses!
Two lionesses lay under the shade of a big tree looking all relaxed and majestic in their lounging positions! They appeared to be monitoring their surroundings and upon the sight of us, quickly got up and proceeded to walk down the rugged trail right in front of us!
My heartbeat could be felt beating loudly inside my chest! I felt elated and thrilled to be here and experience firsthand this once in a lifetime opportunity by spending close-up time with these magnificent cats!
Their names were Thuli and Thembile and they were 13 months old sisters. Each one of them was under the charge of a Handler; I felt safe following them as instructed! Nearby, another guide with a riffle in one hand watched closely the developments.
These professional guides were fantastic every step of the way! My camera was quickly handed to one of them who took numerous pictures of me walking right next to one of the lionesses.
By putting one of my hands on the big cat's back, I pat its fur while continuing on walking! Every other person in the group had the opportunity to do the same!
We were instructed to always walk behind the wild cat or by its side. To never stroke their head or stand in front of them! The stick was to ensure that the lionesses knew of our presence with the noise it made when hitting the ground.
Being used to people around them, these lionesses kept on walking as if they knew the trail by heart. They also had a mind of their own and knew when to stop, be playful and allow us to sit or stand right next to them!
It was hard to remember that these were wild animals as I constantly felt like hugging them. It was a special moment to watch these two sisters play together and even lick one another’s face!
Our walk with lionesses continued for a good hour or so in which I had ample of time to interact with these big wild cats! Back at the lodge, we were served with a healthy breakfast followed by watching a video taken by a professional photographer. Of course I bought it…..I was one of the main characters!
Well, this was quite an opportunity to walk with the lionesses! Just knowing that my money spent here went to support this non-profit organization who manages the walks and whose overall mission is to repopulate the depleting lion population in Africa……. made it all worthwhile!
Back at the hotel at 9:30am, we had to rush to our room for a quick change of clothes! Another exciting activity was lined up for 10:00am!Monique :-)