Sarah Gold

8 of 9

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.

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

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.

Sarah Gold

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

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