Somewhere in the Savanna: Where extraordinary things live

Day two of my safari..I am on the lookout for lions. I told myself I will not leave the savanna until I see one; I was focussed. I saw water buffalos submerged in mud, zebras grazing, impalas playing, baboons doing what they do…looking at you and elephants catching shade beneath the trees. I was so close, if I was brave enough, more like stupid, I could literally reach my hand out and touch them. As I inched my way out of the sunroof of my jeep…I don’t think you are allowed to do this. So don’t! Ha. I scanned the savanna for traces of my beloved lion majestically walking the African plains. Nothing could get my mind off seeing this beautiful cat in all its’ glory. I told myself to be patient. Just when you least expect it you will find what you have been looking for. There I was, I have to say I am fortunate, I have been on countless safaris since I was a child, I have seen many lions but for some reason I had to see one this time. Like, somehow it was different from all the other times. Perhaps I have been watching too much National Geographic’s lately, I can’t give you an explanation..sometimes you just want what you want..right?! It’s amazing what your mind will fixate on at times. It doesn’t make sense but you will hold on to it because…well there is no reason. You also learn as life goes on you may get everything you want but not when you want it. Things will just happen when they are meant to. So it’s important to let go and be open. A lesson I was reminded of that day as I combed the savanna for something great; an African lion roaming free. The things is, I was already surrounded by many great things that many people will never get a chance to see. This is not a zoo. This is their home and I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat. This is where the wild things live and this is where they belong.

Upon our arrival into Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. One of the park rangers informed us that from about noon to sundown it was savanna time. This meant that the animals would be resting, this also meant that it would be hard to spot a leopard (a rare sighting) let alone a lion. During savanna time it’s hot! I mean I can’t even compare this type of heat to a Toronto heatwave. It’s not humid, it’s hot dry heat…You could fry an egg kind of heat. I’m not complaining though, not at all. It’s the kind of heat I prefer. It was 12 in the afternoon, this meant I would have to wait hours but this didn’t deter me. I would stay there all day and into the night. We decided we would drive to the lake and take a boat tour. Here we saw hippos, another animal on my list to see. I have to tell you I was a little worried at first. It took a while before a one popped it’s large head up from the depths of the lake. Ah! I couldn’t handle it, it’s truly an extraordinary animal to see close up. Before I knew it we were surround by pods of hippos resting and keeping cool. Another reminder that beautiful things are continuously happening you just need to open your eyes.

Now, I am not going to lie, in the back of my mind. I was thinking…Oh where is my lion. I knew I wouldn’t find one near the lake. Why? Well, if you understand nature, you will know that you won’t find a water buffalo chilling in the lake if a pride of lions is just a few meters away. I am sure you understand! With the lake tour complete we got back into the jeep and made our way down the bumpy dirt road back to where we began and where we could find lions. With still a few hours before sunset we decided to go back to headquarters where we would get our guide who would take us to where the lions dwell. On our way there something magical happened. No truly, this was not something I expected nor did the people I was traveling with. Out of the green shrubs emerged a leopard (remember I said a rare sighting!). Yes, just a few feet away from our jeep…I couldn’t believe it. We slowed down and it followed us closely, without any hesitation or fear. This beautiful solitary animal slowly walked in front of our car leading the way down the dirt road. It was pretty unreal, I don’t think anyone could have orchestrated something better, really! Then it stopped, without looking back, went to the washroom in the middle of the road, slowly walked to the side of the road disappearing into the shrubs. A rare sighting indeed and an experience I will never forget.


Finally it was sunset. It was time to find the king of jungle. With our guide showing us the way we drove deep into the savanna. The air was now cool and crisp. She told us the lions are preparing to hunt. I wondered if the impalas playing were aware of this because they seemed a little too carefree. We kept on driving, finally under the large shrubs our guide spotted a pride of lions resting. The thing is you could only see their silhouettes, I mean you could barely see them. She said they would be out soon so we decided to drive further up. Maybe we would spot more lions or by the time we turned around and drove back the lions would be out and ready to hunt. Here’s the thing about a safari, you are not the only one looking for the same thing. As we drove in other safaris enthusiasts were driving out. Of course they spotted the lions and by the time we turned around to see if they were still there the lions had disappeared. With all that disruption I don’t blame them. I wanted to go deeper into the savanna, but my sister wasn’t into the idea of being their at night. So we decided we had enough, it was time to head back to our hotel. With the crimson light of the sunset fading away and the sky turning black we quietly drove home. On the way home I remember thinking how surreal all of this is. This life and the moments we experience. No, I didn’t see my lion, two hundred lions and I didn’t see one. But I did see a leopard, a rare sighting and another reason for me to believe that you may not get what you want (meaning it’s not going to look exactly how you imagined it) but just wait…have faith because something extraordinary is about to happen. It will be far greater than anything you will ever imagine and it will be a gift from the universe just for you. So on your search out there in the world wherever that is. Keep your eyes open and look very closely or you might miss something extraordinary.

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Hanifa Sekandi

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