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Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

lion siblings

Sarah Gold

So, apparently, is tracking game. Issa has stopped the jeep and is peering down at the dusty ground.

“Lion,” he says, pointing to a vaguely circular dent in the dirt. I’m skeptical; the entire valley is pockmarked with such ambiguous divots. But Issa floors it and we’re off, bumping across the scrubby plain, which extends so flatly in every direction it couldn’t possibly hide a lion.

Except—suddenly—there one is. A young male, tawny and lithe, crouching in the lee of a thorned shrub. His amber eyes follow us as Issa slows the jeep to a crawl.

As we creep closer, the lion rises and takes a few challenging steps away from the shrub. That’s when we see he’s not alone—there are two other lions, the same size and shape as he is, lolling in the meager shade. They’re barely grown cubs, Issa tells us in a low voice. Siblings. They’re maybe eight or nine months old, young enough that we can still see camouflage spots on the fur of their bellies.

We watch the lions, the lions watch us. Insects hum. Minutes pass. And then, at once, Issa accelerates and we careen away, the lot of us flushed and exhilarated by what we’ve just seen.

As we head back for what will be my final night at Shompole, I think about something I remember Issa mentioning on that morning’s walk.

“Hey,” I say, leaning forward toward the driver’s seat. “Didn’t you say that Masai used to be lion hunters?”

Issa’s copilot, Daniel, turns to answer me from the passenger side.

“Once,” he says. “But no more.”

Daniel’s face breaks into a wide, gap-toothed grin.

“Now the lions are our friends,” he says. “Like you!”

Shompole has its own private airstrip, accessible via 30-minute charter flight from Nairobi Airport. Rates per person, per night start at $630. Since the lodge is close to other wildlife-rich areas (including Masai Mara and Amboseli national parks), many guests choose to incorporate a stay at Shompole into a larger bespoke safari itinerary, like those offered by Micato.

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