Sound carries a long way at night, I reassured myself as I lay in bed studying a field guide to East African birds, listening to the roar of lions. I was tired, and we had planned a game drive before sunrise. I fell asleep quickly in spite of unidentified blood curdling squeaks and the deep roars and coughs of lions. The Family had fallen asleep long before the grasslands came alive with their inhuman song. We woke up to an alarm, and got ready to leave. Stephen was ready with the Landrover, but we seemed to be the only people awake. We drove out as someone opened the gates of the lodge. Birds had been waking in the trees near the gate, but the rest of the grassland was silent. Barely five minutes from the lodge something came at us from out of the darkness.
Stephen has spotted it already and come to a halt. A full-grown male lion walked towards us along the track. I was up with my camera. “Can I open the window?” The Family whispered. Stephen said that it was okay. The lion walked past the open window at a distance where The Family could have reached out and touched it. But ahead, another lion was coming our way. And behind it, a third. In complete silence we saw them walk slowly past our purring Landrover. There was no one else around. Only the three of us had seen these three male lions walk past us in the darkness, close enough to touch.