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Sleeping next to lions in Botswana

This part of the blog is dedicated to the special One Second Journal moments we experienced in the countries we visited. The purpose of these articles is to share some really personal travel stories as well as motivate you to get out there and experience those moments for yourself. And now join me to relive my One Second Journal moment in one of the most beautiful countries of Africa, mysterious Botswana.

PS: I share with you the link of the company I did this tour with at the end of the article. Also, if you want to get a glimpse of which African country would match with you the most, I also wrote an article to help you to get an idea.

My experience of sleeping next to lions in Botswana

Thanks to the itinerary from our great trip in Africa I know that it was day 23 when I experienced my special “One Second” in Botswana. We were visiting the Chobe National Park for the second time, this time with an entirely new group. Our 56 day trip from Cape Town to Nairobi was actually split up in three parts so that we just had an entirely new group joining us on our overland truck. What could be a better start for the new ones than exploring the great Chobe National Park on the first day, I thought.

Discovering the beauty of Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park is definitely one of my top three national parks I visited in my time in Africa. Why? You will find out in another article we will publish soon. But let’s say this is the National Park where I saw the vastest amount of animals. Elephants, buffalos, lions, you name it so you will see plenty of wildlife in this park.

We started our game drive (safari) in the morning and slowly made our way to the riverbanks of the Chobe River. Arriving at the river, you will see an unbelievable amount of wildlife. When you haven’t got the chance to do a safari, you can imagine that it is a bit like a hide and seek game. Usually, you spend a long time searching for big animals like elephants, giraffes, lions, etc. Not in Chobe. Here you get pretty spoiled.

chobe-river-banks-wildlife
Chobe River Bank

However, this sight at the riverbanks was not even the One Second moment I experienced that day. Stay with me it gets even better. After some hours the sun slowly started to set and our guide shared with us that we will now make our way to our campsite within the national park. After driving some time we got lucky behind compare. We just found a pride of lions that managed to kill a giraffe. This is a pretty rare sight and I didn’t witness anything like this in the following national parks throughout Africa. Below you will find some pictures of this extraordinary sight. They are pretty visual, which is why I did not include them right here. For the brave ones have a little scroll to see what I am talking about. The circle of life, just really visual.

After spending some time with the lions and watching them filling their bellies with the flesh of the poor giraffe, we continued, after all, it was getting really dark and I assumed that we still had some distance to travel before arriving at our camp. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Vultures-sunset-botswana-africa
Vultures waiting in tree during sunset

We basically drove another 200 meters behind some bushes and came to a halt. We arrived at our camp for the night. No fences. A bonfire and a couple of tents. Nothing else. Our guide turned around and told us to get off the truck. “Wait, wait, the lions are just a few meters away, I want to live!” I said, half-joking… I was not the only one. The others were also hesitating to jump off the truck. After a few minutes, and a really convincing guide, we slowly made our way off the truck. His killer argument was that the lions just ate so we will be fine. “Hopefully” I thought again.

After some minutes, however, you start to loosen up and realize that the most dangerous animal within this park is actually us, humans. Wild animals are most of the time just calm and mind their own business. So if you leave them alone and behave respectfully, you will always be fine. Still, it felt a bit strange. Within one second, a group of people was taken back 100 000 years ago to a feeling of our far, far ancestors. From one to another second, we needed to use all our senses again.

That might sound silly to you, but our modern life has basically jaded our senses for a long time. Our cities are noisy and have poisonous air, leaving us with a sort of deafness and inability to really smell. Also the invention of fire and light made us basically unable to see in the night without them. Arriving in the African jungle in the middle of the night, makes you realize that. However, it will also teach you gratitude for your senses, because in those kinds of situations you again get reminded of their importance.

“That might sound silly to you, but our modern life has basically jaded our senses for a long time. Our cities are noisy and have poisonous air, leaving us with a sort of deafness and inability to really smell. At the same time, the invention of fire and light made us basically unable to see in the night. Arriving in the African jungle in the middle of the night makes you realize that.”

Bringing me finally to my “One Second” moment sleeping next to lions in Botswana

Days on these African overland trips start early, to experience as much as possible. This is probably the reason why everyone goes to bed as soon as possible. But I couldn’t sleep now. This was just too amazing. Here I was in the middle of the African bush listening to the sounds of the night. A little boy’s dream just came true.

First I only heard the sound of the bonfire in front of me. But slowly my senses came back and more sounds joined in. At first, I heard the sounds of the lions, which was the exact moment where I truly realized that I am in Africa right now. My dream that was 23 years in the making (Lion King was screening in the cinemas in 1994) finally came true. And I realized that now. I almost cried, seriously, it was such an overwhelming experience to listen to the sound of your favorite animals just a couple meters away from you and no fence between us. It is nature unfiltered.

Time felt endless now, I don’t know how long I stayed at the bonfire. There were not only lions out there that’s for sure. I started to hear the noise of hippos or jackals, as well as the sound of breaking branches, where you never exactly know what kind of animal is hiding out there in the bushes only a few meters away from you.  

After an uncertain amount of time, I wanted to get ready to sleep. The scariest part was still to come, I needed to go to the toilet. The provisional toilet was about 20 meters away from our camp. So I took my torch and went for it. Damn it, I never experienced such long 20 meters in my entire life. Your senses truly come alive and you feel really vulnerable at this moment because everything out there has better senses than you. You can compare it a bit swimming in the open ocean and looking beneath you.

“The scariest part was still to come, I needed to go to the toilet. The provisional toilet was about 20 meters away from our camp. So I took my torch and went for it. Damn it, I never experienced such long 20 meters in my entire life.”

After my little adventure to the toilet, I entered my tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag. At last, I put my little woodcarving knife next to me. “You never know” I thought. I continued to listen to the sounds of nature and slowly my eyes shut.

Have you been to Botswana? What was your One Second moment? Tell us in the comments section below, we would love to hear your story too! If you want to know which company I booked the overland trip with, the company is called Africa Travel Company. I did this tour.

Oliver One Second Author
written by Oliver

The promised pictures of the lions feast (visual content):

Male lion eating Giraffe in Botswana
Male lion eating Giraffe 200m from our camp
Male lion eating Giraffe in Botswana
Another one
Vultures eating Giraffe
Vultures eating the Giraffe on the next morning

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9 comments

  1. Oh my gosh what an absolutely incredible moment – I would definitely have cried! Going on a game drive in one of the national parks in Africa (I’ve yet to decide on which country!) is right at the top of my travel bucket list. I hope I get to have an equally amazing experience when I finally get around to it!!!

    1. I hope so too 🙂 Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want any recommendations!

  2. What a cool story! I am the sign Leo, so I always feel an affinity to lions. I’ve never been to Africa, but would love to have an experience like this one day… and hopefully I won’t have to run to the bathroom like the writer did 🤣

  3. I have not been to Botswana. It looks like an incredible place to visit with all of its natural beauty and wildlife.

  4. Wow! These pictures are incredible. It reminds of the time I spent in South Africa. It was truly life-changing.

  5. We did the Safari in South Africa. I must add Botswana to the list!

    1. Where did you do it in South Africa? Kruger? South Africa is an amazing country too 🙂

  6. Wow! How amazing! I’ve been on game drives in India (for tigers). Haven’t been to any in Africa yet – looks so amazing!

    1. That must have been such a unique moment too! Did you manage to see some tigers? 🙂