|Another day of close encounters. Besides paddling by hippos and crocs,
once having a hippo surface within several feet of our canoe, we also
hiked among the animals. It's exciting to trek through the bush, alert
for trouble. Our guide James worried most with buffalo and elephant. Although
he has an extremely powerful rifle, several direct hits won't necessarily
bring down a charging buffalo before it kills you. James assures us that
not many people die on walking safaris. While we sat by a water hole,
a young bull elephant walked through the bush only 10 feet away. The most
stressful moments came with the lions. We walked within 30 yards of a
pride of nine lions resting in tall grass and brush. As we approached,
a lioness jumped up and roared. Instinctively, Jill and I jumped back
looking for the nearest tree. James warned us to hold our ground or they'd
attack. You're not to show fear, so James decided to have us walk forward!
We inched closer while a male lion made a mock charge. Can these cats
roar! We stood our ground for 15 minutes, watching the lions watch us.
They flicked their tails and growled through the whole encounter. We didn't
need any encouragement to leave. James said, "Lions are rarely a problem
if you stand your ground." Easier said than done.