It’s easy to forget the sheer size of African lions due to the mammoth game they hunt, but this tourist’s close encounter serves as a stark reminder.
24-year-old Simone van Schalkwyk was on a game drive near Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park in early October when he got the sighting of a lifetime: a pride of massive male lions.
“The lions were lying in the grass right next to the road and slowly got up,” Simone tells Latest Sighting of his footage. “Showing a lot of interest in our car, they came right up to my window looking right at me and even rubbed themselves against the bonnet.”
The footage is truly incredible. Yet it’s also incredibly stressful for Outsiders, as Simone chooses to keep his window down for the majority of the early encounter. Someone clearly isn’t up to speed on the speed of big cats.
These tourists were lucky enough to get up close to two very curious male lions, and live to tell the tale!
“The emotions were unreal and slightly mixed, I was filled with excitement as well as a bit of fear seeing these male lions up close,” he adds.
After their initial approach, Simone’s footage shows the male lions rubbing up against his small sedan. Once their heads come up to the windows out of curiosity, their size becomes truly apparent. And those eyes… So few humans make eye contact with a wild lion and live to tell the tale.
Tourist Is Lucky Lions Were Feeling Less Hungry and More Curious
As for how the encounter occurred, the 24-year-old Candidate Attorney says “We had gone out on a very early morning game drive, as the only thing I wanted from our trip was to see big male lions. After passing some buffalo dung we carried on driving and then we saw these beautiful male lions walking in the road – finally, we had found them!”
Simone visits Kruger National Park often, and lions are his personal favorite. This sighting was, in short, an absolute dream come true, he says.
Thankfully for him, the male lions present were feeling far more curious than hungry that October morning.
“I love the bush and visit quite often but I have never experienced anything like this before. I am so lucky and blessed to have witnessed a lion look me straight in the eyes!”
Lucky, indeed. In the end, Simone says he and his travel partner “spent quite some time with the lions and after a while, the lions lost interest and we carried on.”
Such is the way of life. But remember, Outsiders, never take chances with wildlife – especially large predators. If you’re going to be around them in your vehicle – have those windows up. Luck, after all, favors the prepared.