Today in Kidepo was remarkable. As always, brain is faster than fingers. Words fail. Am simply blown away, and overwhelmed.
For anyone possibly following the narrative, remember that crazy “lucky” lion/buffalo kill I witnessed over lunch (while eating creme brûlée) that I wrote about? Well, we went to check it out this afternoon.
First of all, Kidepo is like old-school Kenya/Tanzania safaris, circa 20 or so years ago when I first started coming to Africa — back when there were NO prescribed paths your vehicle had to stay on, and it is completely off road, and you could pull up mere feet from the animals, and you were literally the only vehicle/person in the entire friggin’ park!!!!
Kidepo is like that, and it is truly EXTRAORDINARY. It’s like Namibia — but with zero roads or people. Makes Kenyan safaris of today look like zoos.
So we get to the kill site where there are now nine lions feasting on the poor buffalo. I just saw the lions take down the buffalo a few hours earlier while I was eating lunch and this was all that was left. About 100 feet away in a tree about 400 vultures perch just waiting for their turn. The hyenas will feast later — it’s going to be a LOUD night.
I have gone out on maybe 40+ safari drives and I’ve seen many lions, and even lions up close (sorry, really, sorry, I SO don’t mean to sound like THAT GIRL. I’m just very lucky, and I have prioritized my life largely around exploring the world), but even on all my drives, I have never ever ever ever seen anything like this — sooo visceral and so close — sitting in the open, a mere four feet from me, seven, eight, nine lions scarfing down this fresh buffalo, roaring at one another, rolling around full with pleasure…a male from a different family (the family that made the kill while I was eating lunch) sitting it out so the females could eat, or however it works, the vultures waiting. Just jaw-dropping and unreal. LITERALLY unreal.
I’ve said this a million times about a million things, but when I’m back home in NYC doing my thing, it’s just so incredible to me, so hard for my tiny little brain to process, that these insanely different worlds are chugging along while I’m catching taxis, fretting over this word or that word in a press release, should I wear this shoe or that one, why does the lightbulb in the hall keep burning out, my shampoo is discontinued, whhhaaat?!
Be it the life of people in Kinshasa or any non-Western country, the uprising/war in name-that-country, the housewives of name-that-shit show, the insanely unbelievable, have you ever really looked at a rhinoceros or insert [any non-domesticated animal here]…we just live in such a remarkable and crazy world. And I haven’t even touched upon atoms, mold, bacteria, the solar system, ants (fucking ants! What are there… a gabillion ants!?! ad infinitum times a billion, etc.). WE KNOW NOTHING. Our existence is mind-blowing…but it’s so fun, the learning of it. That’s one of the reasons I love going going going.
Anyway, off to brave whichever animals are making all the noise outside — thinking what moose thing is outside my door and imagining WTF the U.S. military is here for. Blah!
When we went back to check on our lion friends, the vultures were still waiting in the trees. Four young siblings were just finishing up what they could of the buffalo. They were tired and thirsty and eager for water, but resistant to leave. Finally one got up and left, calling to the others to follow, and slowly, one by one, they did. Except one. He just couldn’t pull himself away. When he finally did, within 10 seconds, like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds, hundreds of vultures were jockeying for position on what was left — it was the grossest and most fascinating thing ever!
The funniest part was the last lion couldn’t stand it and kept running back to scare off the vultures, which fled immediately to the trees. Tired, full lion struggled to run back to HIS buffalo carcass four times before finally giving up. It was truly hilarious. Vultures decimated the remains in about six minutes.
Next come the hyenas for the bones and skin, which the spotters thought would happen last night, but these particular lions were young and so very hungry, so I’m told. Here’s the last lion, and me with world’s nicest spotter.
Ok, lots of photos of me with really awesome hair (my payback), but how else to show HOW FRICKEN’ CLOSE I GOT TO ALL THESE AMAZING ANIMALS ON FOOT, yes as in walking!!
Went on a walking safari one morning with quite a coterie: my two spotters, David and Phillips, Marcus, a veterinarian, and Faustino, our trusted park ranger and the guy with the gun (used ONLY to scare off animals should things go bad), who also seems to be the comic foil in our ragtag group.
We were THIS CLOSE to zebra, a jillion breeds of antelope-types whose names I’ve learned a zillion times but can’t remember (I am truly an idiot…I am not making Americans look particularly smart here in Uganda…sorry, America), hartebeest, buffalo, and so so so much more. And of course, giraffe, who I snuck up to so quietly that I managed to get close!!! A little closer and I was going to go in for a hug. On the drive back we ran into another pride of lions — oh you know, ho hum — not much going on here!