The ferocious lion
In the earliest days of Umlani, when it just comprised two huts, and even before that when Marco & Marie ran it out of the old Marula Camp, I was responsible for reservations. In order to ensure that the place was kept busy, I would send my friends down there, or put groups of people together and take them down for a weekend in the bush.
We would head off, stopping in Hoedspruit to cool off by sitting in the beer fridge at Tonsanby Bottle Store and then cracking our second beer as we turned off the R40 onto the road to Timbavati (the first one was usually opened in the beer fridge).
Marco, Leon and George would ensure that we had an experience of a lifetime. We would cruise the property in a skorokoro Landy; listening to those three guys imparting their intimate knowledge of the bush as we walked for miles (I still remember George recreating a cheetah kill from a few scrapes in the ground and patch of fresh blood); the quips (like Leon’s famous “the faster you drive, the harder it rains”); the sense of being “at one with nature”; and of course getting back to camp to a welcoming fire and good food.
We would all relax around the fire, drinks in hand and talking about the awesome experiences of the day or simply admiring the stars, when the inevitable would happen, a lion would start snarling in the darkness just outside the perimeter of our seats. The guests would first look nervously at one another and then move closer to each other and then someone would say, “Did you hear that?” Out in the darkness Marco would giggle and step into the light with a cardboard tube in his hand.
For more, see the Timbavati Nature Reserve blog