Hold the air traffic – there’s a lion on the airstrip!


This is one of those things you would only hear about in Africa, where rumours of pet elephants and lions in the garden circulate the globe. We landed with Major Blue Air in the blissfully jolty fashion that shook us out of a mesmerised state after having flown over this epic World Heritage Site in Botswana. The heat took over as the doors opened, and the humidity stuck in our lungs almost immediately, but we had arrived on a private concession of the Okavango Delta and were headed for the luxury of Mapula Lodge! It was only when we headed back to the airstrip in the cooler hours of an early morning game drive that we came across one particularly dangerous obstacle to air traffic – a lion on the airstrip!

The sculpted, golden male lion was enjoying the mild morning while it lasted. Removed from the obstruction of grass and trees, he lay belly-down on the cool dirt of the runway and watched us approaching, ahead of the rising sun. Like a true king, he looked fearless, and an expression of lazy arrogance took hold of his face. He was unperturbed by our presence and we sat and watched him for a while; a magnificent big cat, an apex predator, in his home in the Okavango Delta.




My thoughts were of a potential pride he might dominate, cubs he might have sired, the brothers he might have as allies. Perhaps he was keeping watch and the pride was just out of sight behind a leafy shrub; or maybe he was alone. A solo male lion drinking in his kingdom before succumbing to the wretched heat of the day. As the sun rose in the sky, this beast of a lion knew his precious time in the cool was up and he lifted himself onto all fours. We got to watch him walk in front of our vehicle and head into the tall reeds, now in search of new shade…




One Response to "Hold the air traffic – there’s a lion on the airstrip!"

  1. Sabine from ReiseSpatz

    What a great experience to see a lion! At our last stay in Umkumbe we also saw one. Our children were very excited. In my last blog articel in “Reisespatz” I write an articel about our trip to south africa and my special tipp for a lodge is Umkumbe! We loved to be there!
    For all who can read german, please see more: http://reisespatz.de/familiensafaris-suedafrika/

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