1:38PM I finally meet Alwyn at the airport and jump into his Jeep immediately heading out to the Safari. It has dawned on me that I never nearly asked enough questions about our safari previous to going. Like the fact that I am JUST fully realizing that we will be camping out in the wilderness with no one else around!
4:48PM As we near our camping ground I casually relay to Alwyn a camping story I heard from some friends a little over a week ago. The friend’s sister had gone safari camping and a lion happened to be outside their tent. Stupidest thing she said her sister ever did, is the way I believe she described it!I wanted an assurance that this could not happen on our safari. He too casually replied, “Yup, it happens”. So naturally, my next question was “what shall be our course of action if this…happens?”. He responds (all too smoothly) “Oh, Nothing, they’re just curious, let them do their thing and then they leave”. I have a weird feeling in my heart. I imagine it is the onset of a heart attack.
5 something: we have gotten to camp which is a shaded area beside an open plain. Alwyn has mentioned that we won’t leave anything out to tempt the Hyenas. I clarify that we are speaking about the same villains in the Lion King. So not only do we have to worry about Scar but now his minions may also make a guest appearance 😡
6 something: I leave Alwyn for 5 minutes to fix something in my tent. When i find him back he explains that Hyenas were in our campsite. My heart sinks. I’ve made a resolution that if I make it out alive I need to ask more questions for the future.
8:12 I fell into a nap for a few minutes while Alwyn made us dinner. With everything going on I truly am impressed that I am able to function on this level. Napping, whilst I could become a snack at any point is the level of ‘don’t give a shit’ that I aspire to be! Anyways, when I woke up he told me there was an elephant in camp and apparently a leopard was also close by. I tell Alwyn (prolly rudely) that he doesn’t have to tell me everything on his mind.
10:40PM: Alone in my tent, I have been woken up by the sounds of an animal which I reckon is a Lion. It is feline. I am sure. It is extremely close, like it sounds like it is circling my tent! My heart palpitates. The feeling from early resurges but only 10 times stronger. Well, this is it. I was wondering for a while which stupid decision would do me in. I whisper the Lord’s prayer and hope that I shall be missed dearly!
11 something: I am still alive somehow. The lion has spared me. The entire time I was looking through the mesh in the tent. But Jesus knows that if I had actually seen a lion pass my tent door I would just collapse and die so he didn’t allow it. Jesus is good all the time.
11 something and a few minutes more: The empty bottle of water that I put in my tent to pee in has filled up with piss. It turns out I pee more than I think. I now need to pee, and this of course, is a conundrum.
12 something: I wrack my brain with algebra as the impending pee is more intense. My options look like a multiple choice exam. (A) Do I throw away good water on the tent ground so that I can use a next empty bottle to pee in? (B) Do I just pee on the tent ground? (C) Do I attempt to hold it and risk pissing my bed for the first time in close to 30 years? Finally after very careful deliberation I opt for (D) open tent zipper ever so slightly and pour the old pee outside. There is a good chance some will get on the outside of the tent. I don’t care. I will buy Alwyn a new tent if needs be!
12 something: I worry if the scent of pee will attract animals. But then I also think some animals mark their territory. Maybe they will think of my pee as a no-go zone. Alwyn shouts out from his tent for something to go away. I ask him what is it ,casually, like I haven’t been seriously thinking I’m going to die for the last two hours. He says it is a honey something (honey badger). That is enough for me to sigh some relief. I am not particularly scared of a honey badger although I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t sound intimidating like say, Lion!
1:40am: I have woken up from sleep. I’m not even sure how I fell asleep. The anxiety must have put me into a coma. I was low key hoping when I looked at the alarm it would say 5am. 5 is the time we are getting up to go on safari. It is also the time when the day starts to break. My salvation and only chance of survival.
3 something: somehow I fell asleep AGAIN and somehow it only lasted two hours. I’ve decided this is the longest night of my life. I contemplate listening to music through my headphones as I hear more sounds and am pretty sure something is outside my tent. I wonder if it is better to be attacked whilst listening to my headphones and unaware. Hopefully, it would be quick and swift.
Minutes to 5: I hear Alwyn rumble. I call out to him. I thank God I have made it through the night. He laughs when I tell him I threw the pee out the tent. I told him I for sure thought a lion was in camp. He explains it was an elephant making these purring sounds. What the actual fuck elephant. I explain to Alwyn before we leave camp to go safari-ing that we are now sharing a single tent. He explains that I will have to deal with his snoring. I think that’s fine considering the night is dark and full of terror!
*this is just a funny (but real) take on my first night in Safari. It was the start of one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Some pics taken by my guide Alwyn Myburgh.