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Jonny's last night in the wilds

Posted by Jonny Bealby 5th May 2010
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At Wild Frontiers we pride ourselves on doing things differently. There are of course other companies that sell horse riding trips in the Okavango Delta, but no others that do it with a night spent wild, beneath the star-filled African sky. Leaving the horses behind in Quappo Camp, we walked out into the bush with the western sun already low in the sky. Walking in Africa is not something to be undertaken lightly - on horseback a lion will probably think you dominant and back off, on foot he'll think you lunch. For this adventure we had two guides: Paddy, from England, armed with .375 rifle who looked like he'd jumped straight from the pages of a Wilbur Smith novel and Rodgers, from Botswana, who with diamonte earrings, wrap-around shades and Samuel L Jackson Pulp Fiction-style beard, looked more like he'd come from the streets of Detroit than the African Bush... he was however an incredible tracker and having learnt about tracking through elephant spour and hippo prints we were soon on the trail of lion. 'If we do surprise a lion,' said Paddy to the group, 'stand stock still and do exactly as I say. Whatever you do, don't run.' That, I thought, might be easier said than done. He went on to explain that a lion at full throttle rockets across the ground at an incredible 22 metres a second... there would simply be no point. Cutting through the bush we came across herds of lechwe, impala and a tower of giraffe but thankfully no lion and arrived in camp just before dark. Here, in a beautiful position beside a watering hole, the boys had built a fire, erected shower and loo tents, and set up an impromptu bar. They had also laid out the bed rolls in groups of three beneath mosquito nets. While enjoying a sundowner Paddy explained that we would not be sleeping through the night, but instead we'd take it in turns to keep watch. We drew straws for times, with Lulu, Gia and myself getting the last slot, from four to six. Strangely we all woke up at 3.57 and took up our positions beside the fire. We drank coffee, watched the stars and listened to the jungle. We heard a pride of lions roaming the bush a few ks away and a lone leopard wandering passed, but soon the eastern sky was warming and the camp began to stir. We all agreed it was the best night of the trip.

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