Our Leopard Encounter
This was quite possibly the biggest highlight of our African Safari, with the lion cubs being right up there with this experience!
To enjoy safari in Samburu, we chose to stay at Larsen’s Camp, which sits right by the river. We were warmly embraced when we arrived at Larsen’s Camp and made to feel right at home. After giving us a few moments to relax and get settled in, the staff invited us to lunch, which they had set up for the two of us right by the river.
I was so excited to be in this beautiful location. The river was flowing, the sun was now shining after quite a bit of rain, and there were monkeys swinging in the trees. If you don’t already know this about me, I love watching animals interact in their natural habitats.
Perhaps I was a bit too excited, though, because as we made our way to our enticing lunch by the river, I failed to notice how slick the ground was. Before I knew it, I had performed an almost perfect split, in a skort, landing directly into a puddle of mud! It was definitely not one of my most graceful moments.
The staff was by my side immediately and suddenly I was the center of a lot of unwanted attention! Please, I thought to myself, let me crawl back to my tent alone and pretend this never happened. But that was not meant to be. Fortunately, the staff conveyed only deep concern and to their credit, not a one burst out laughing. They even insisted their doctor check me over, to make sure I was ok. What an amazing feeling to be so many miles away from home and yet feel so well taken care of! But…enough of my mishaps. On to the more important events of this stay.
Soon after lunch, we departed on our first Samburu game drive. Our guide was excellent at spotting the local wildlife, and before we encountered this gorgeous leopard above, we had already enjoyed a number of other sightings, including an owl, gazelle, rutting impala, and so much more.
But this creature? He was magnificent and so well hidden. I was shocked that we found him. Well, I’d like to say “we” and take the credit, but there was no way we would have spotted him without the keen eye of our guide.
This fellow allowed us to watch him for over an hour. I wanted to capture every moment and gave my best effort in doing so with all of my senses as well as my camera. I believe I shot over 800 photos in that one hour! (One day you’ll have to ask me about the devastating ride back to camp, when I thought I’d lost all 800 shots!)
The leopard acted as if he were unaware of our presence, and yet I was confident he knew we were there. For a while, he had his eye on playful impala nearby and I’m guessing his eyes were able to observe them much better than we were from his perch up high. But he seemed to change his mind, get restless. He decided instead to pose for some shots. For the remainder of our time together, he gave me one shot after another. It almost seemed unreal. This experience was one of the most thrilling hours of my life and the memory is emblazoned on my mind forever!
(For more photos of this day, feel free to explore our Gallery!)