Our guide Bryson started into an almost running trot. He even stopped glancing back over his shoulder to see if we were still following him. Every man for himself in the bush, I mused. The sun was going down very quickly now, the beautiful reddish streaks across the sky fading into absolute grayness.
The four of us travelers- JC, two Slovenian wildlife photographers we had randomly met (with all their tripods and massive lenses), and I began to hasten after his quickly fading outline. After all, we didn’t know where the hell we were. Well, we were in the Okavanga Delta in Botswana, on a dugout canoe escapade where we were paddling along tiny rivulets deep into the bush for three full days. There were two people to a canoe, with each of our two canoes having a guide standing on the back, pushing us down the streams with a long pole. We had only the water, food, and tents in the canoes as our only supplies- and our only shelter.
During that first day we had gone exploring on foot, and had seen lots of hippos, elephants, and large animals at almost alarmingly close distances, with Bryson wielding around a walking stick. Great protection that is, I thought to myself. Bryson had been very light-hearted during the trip, until that moment.
With the sun going down on our first evening, the professional photographers were hell-bent on getting the perfect sunset picture over the picturesque African savannah landscape. Bryson kept reminding the amiable but definitely determined Slovenian couple that we had to be back by sundown because the lions hunt from sundown to sunup. And they in turn, keep telling him they needed just “a minute.”
After more than a few reminders, a clearly anxious Bryson simply turned around and walked away, with one last, “Let’s go,” then started into a pretty brisk jog. Later, after a half hour at that speedy pace, we were welcomed safely back at camp with a huge blazing fire started by our other guide. Bryson casually mentioned that while we were circling around the area (which was pretty tight) looking for the perfect sunset vantage point, he had noticed the tracks of a female lion starting to trail us from the shadows. “Very dangerous…but I just didn’t want to scare you so I didn’t say anything,” he smiled.