There are moments in travel that are exciting. There are moments in travel that are amazing. There are moments in travel that are a bit stressful and overwhelming. Then there are moments in travel that may become a National Geographic moment.
The last three days of our visit to Krueger National Park were spent in a private reserve that borders the National Park. One of the nice things about private reserves is that the morning and afternoon Safaris are included with the price of your stay. They sometimes offer hikes through the bush with an armed guide and tracker.
The last evening started quietly, driving out in the late afternoon, sitting a bit high off the ground so we could get a better view of the action that was soon to impart. The first half hour was quiet. Ah a Cape Buffalo herd sighting started the action late that afternoon. The herd was large about seventy five in all. There were new calves within the herd.
The driver and guide stopped and shut the engines off so we could observe quietly. After watching the herd for a short time we continued on our way. As we came up a hill off to the left we saw a pride of lions. They were quietly walking forward one by one in a line. There were 12 – 15 lions.
What amazes me is that these animals will come fairly close to us in our vehicle and they will totally ignore us. Our guide turned the vehicle and we drove back towards the buffalo herd. He positioned us on a small hill so we could watch the action unfold from a distance.
The lions would casually walk along, lay down and then a few minutes later they would move again. As they got near the buffalo herd they separated going in different directions to quietly surround the herd of buffalo. At the precise moment, and I am not sure when that was, they attacked the herd of buffalo. A stampede of sorts ensued. the calves were pushed to the middle of the herd and the buffalo counter attacked the lions. The stampede headed in our direction and for a moment in time all of us were pretty sure the buffalo were going to stampede our vehicle. The adrenalin rushed. And then it was over. No calves were taken. The lions went off to lay down. The buffalo resumed grazing and other activities.
Our guide told us that as the sun set the lions would attack again. Cape Buffalo cannot see well in the dark. The lions know this and they will wait until the opportune moment to strike. What we saw was probably one of several attempts they had made on this herd over the course of the day.
For those of us that felt we were in the middle of the action, it was “The Attempt” that mattered. It was just one more National Geographic moment in my life. It was thrilling, absolutely thrilling.