Walking with Lions

Photo of Walking with Lions 1/13 by Anuj Tikku

Settling into Lusaka, Zambia and taking time out with the Welham Boys', I was sated and yet needed more! That is what it is to be a traveller and the Hindi word yayavar - 

वह साधु या संन्यासी जो किसी एक स्थान पर टिककर न रहता हो, बराबर घूमता फिरता हो।

वह जिसके रहने का कोई निश्चित स्थान न हो और जो खान पान आदि के सुभीते के विचार से अपना डेरा कभी कहीं और कभी कहीं लगाता हो।

came to mind! 

Photo of Walking with Lions 2/13 by Anuj Tikku

Nick and I had connected on the internet before I got here. He came designated as Transportation Coordinator for Africa, Zambia and with his help and his merry crew, I headed for a four-day trip to Livingstone, Zambia which is situated south of Lusaka and named after David, the famous explorer. He was the first ever European and a Scot at that to ever get to Africa. Nick drove me to Livingstone which was a five-hour drive. We started early and reached just after lunch time.

Photo of Walking with Lions 3/13 by Anuj Tikku

I rested at a local lodge where I was greeted by their managing director Mr. Steve Roberts who explained to me the four-day plan! 

He also gifted me a kit full of a rechargeable power pack, swipes, sun tan lotion, cleanser and mosquito repellent wristbands. How Taut - I thought!

Photo of Walking with Lions 4/13 by Anuj Tikku

I was pleased with the care and the attention to detail that The Great African Safari Company here had shown me. I give them a two thumbs up and recommend their service to anyone who comes to Lusaka. If you want the African Safari Experience, you can contact them on +44-7706383498 at the UK or at Zambia on +26-963954056, and Steve's email is steve@greatafrican-safari.com.

Photo of Walking with Lions 5/13 by Anuj Tikku

Livingstone was turning out to be fun. Not only the people but I was liking the weather also. Just be a bit careful of the mosquitos though and it is advisable to carry suntan lotion.  

Photo of Walking with Lions 6/13 by Anuj Tikku

I started out being a bit irritable in the morning but then Nick’s antics cheered me up and we almost started boxing in our unbridled horseplay. Nick is an animated character and insisted on singing old Hindi songs when we were driving for the Lion Walk!

Photo of Walking with Lions 7/13 by Anuj Tikku

The location was a setting to train visitors to view lions close up fondling them as it were! I was sat down in a hut surrounded by rangers who were trained in handling lions.

Photo of Walking with Lions 8/13 by Anuj Tikku

 We were given a ten-minute briefing how to approach a lion and pet them and what to do when one approaches them.

Photo of Walking with Lions 9/13 by Anuj Tikku

Each of us was given a stick to hold as we walked with lions. I went up close, then went on my knees to approach the lion from behind.

Photo of Walking with Lions 10/13 by Anuj Tikku

Then gently pet the animal as the rangers clicked away. We then walked with the male and the female lion for quite a distance playing with the beasts as if they were simply domesticated pets. This was indeed a unique experience for me and I was not scared one bit. The dusty forest was all that we had as an enclosure as the lions roamed with men in the wild, sometimes rolling on the mud, at times, yawning.

Photo of Walking with Lions 11/13 by Anuj Tikku

It was also exhausting at times keeping pace with them as they dodged trees and bushes to march forward. We then went to the Makuni Village, an ancient village in this part of the world. It was established 1300 years ago and has a combined population of 7000 people. It has a chief who rules and governs everyone in the village. I strolled amongst the people and the goats who were kept in a special shelter.

Photo of Walking with Lions 12/13 by Anuj Tikku

Women washing clothes, making fire or picking sticks. Children playing in the mud and raw earth with a sense of joy and freedom.

Photo of Walking with Lions 13/13 by Anuj Tikku

The ancient village reminded me of villages in Bihar and Rajasthan in India. I was encouraged to check out the curio shop but I gave that a miss as I have no space in my handbag.

Photo of Lusaka, Lusaka Province, Zambia by Anuj Tikku

Livingstone, the great explorer and adventurist and I was in his town and man, was I loving Zambia and its warm air. Of course, the chef at my lodge turned out to be an Indian, so I have all the home-made delicacies in the comfort of my room. Keema mattar, dal, chicken kadhai, butter chicken and man, I have been gorging on Indian food in Zambia and as elsewhere in Africa earlier. One of the things that have gotten in the way is that I don't get authentic African food since Indian food is just so easily available and well-liked and well-trafficked!

Originally posted on http://tikkustravelthon.in/2016/09/17/walking-with-lions