In Desert and Wilderness – Part III

20Mar15

What happened in the next 12 hours following the news of leopard sighting deserves a blog entry on its own. It was National Geographic worth material, and the experience that defined awesomeness of my safari trip.

12 hours of leopard’s life in Sabi Sands

In the late afternoon, a male leopard was taking a nap hidden in the tall savannah grass before heading for a stroll, marking his territory, and coming to a clearing to look for a prey. His meticulously planned hunt went well into the night until he interrupted our dinner. Around 9.30 pm as we sat down around the lodge fire, our guide started shouting at us to jump back onto the truck and head into the bush because killing sounds were heard. Not even 100 m from our camp, same leopard that we spotted earlier today, was dragging a baby deer. Grabbing the deer by its neck, he dug his claws deep into the tree bark, and in few jumps, climbed up, securing the prey on the branches right above me. Deer’s urine and blood started dripping right in front of us while ripped deer’s hair flew in the air like fluffy feathers. The leopard moved from the deer’s neck to buttocks, and the feast finally began. So there I was – in the deepest part of Africa and away from civilization – witnessing something that only a few get to see. At this point there were only two sounds that I could hear – crickets in the distance, and leopard’s teeth ripping deer’s flesh, fiber by fiber. As grotesque as it sounds, it was one of the most beautiful things one could experience and the act of nature at its finest. Mesmerized with the view, we all watched the leopard eat for over 40 min. before heading back to the camp to have our dinner. 

Many say that an African safari is one of the lifetime experiences. But once you experience it, you realise how addictive it becomes, and how one safari is not enough. After visiting Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands, I want to experience this continent so much more. I want to go to Namibia where red desert sand dunes collide with the Atlantic and where lions roam on the beaches, to Botswana where hippos and crocodiles fill up river banks, and to Tanzania where thousands of wildebeest and zebras create stampedes that are earth shattering.

Two weeks in South Africa overwhelmed me with beauty, and very often I had to take a moment to grasp where I actually was and what I was seeing. My business venture was unsuccessful, but at the end of the trip, this mattered the least because of everything else, expected and unexpected, that I experienced. As much as I want others to witness natural beauty of this country, that much I want to keep it only for myself, as a well-known public secret.

African Penguins on Boulders Beach, Simonstown

African Penguins on Boulders Beach, Simonstown

Nowhere else in the world did a leopard interrupt my dinner because he caught his too. Nowhere else in the world did I get stuck between lions and jeopardized being late for my flight. Nowhere else in the world did I have a chance to swim with penguins, or walk on the beaches surrounded with ostriches. Nowhere else in the world sky is so vast, unobstructed, animated and enigmatic. Nowhere else but in Africa.

God's Window, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Above the Clouds in God’s Window, Mpumalanga, South Africa

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