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  • Leisa Stewart-Sharpe

The scariest moment of my life

Updated: Jul 8

I’ve been very lucky to explore so many corners of this extraordinary planet – always keeping a travel journal along the way.

Here they are. I wish the pile was bigger, but two other fantastic adventures came along to keep us busy - our little people A&B. I will add more journals to the pile

someday soon, but in the times in-between, when I’m marooned at home, the old journals make for good reading. Here's one of the stories for you. . . taken from page 126 of my sky blue diary of 2011.


We had it all figured out – Russ and I were going to marry in Scotland in May 2011. The whole shebang, complete with twinkle lights and ice cream sundaes. But then I heard the call of the wild. And it grew louder and louder, until like the braying of a wildebeest our wedding was cancelled, and we were en-route to Africa for the adventure of a lifetime. It was on Africa's plains, that I experienced the scariest moment of my life.

We were in Tanzania’s Serengeti savanna grasslands on safari. Every night we’d huddle around the campfire with our Masai guide and he’d do his best to spook us before bed; stories of leopards dragging tourists from their tents and stampeding buffalo. But that night, Paul didn’t even need to speak – our knees were already quaking as we heard a low, rumbling roar in the distance. A roar that became ROARS and got closer. And closer. A pride of lions was on the prowl.

Our guide whispered “Simba” and ushered us all off to bed. “Go quickly,” he said as he drove off in his jeep, leaving us alone in the dark. We zipped ourselves into our canvas tent in the middle of the bush, and turned off the torch - our arm hairs standing on end with fear. The guide was adamant, “the lions will not come into the tent – they do not see it as food. It might as well be a rock.” But that’s a hard message to trust when a pride of lions is padding through your campsite.

We didn’t sleep a wink that night. But the next morning things were quieter, and the flamingo pink skies of sunrise were crying out for a photo. I quietly unzipped the tent, took a slug of coffee and crept across the dewy grass. I knelt, raised my camera and. . .

. . . ROAR!

The lions were still in camp.

I know you’re not supposed to run, but I galloped like a gazelle, honking at my husband to unzip the tent flap. I flung myself inside our canvas rock, dove into my sleeping bag and refused to come back out. I suspect the roar wasn’t as close as I feared, but it was close enough.


Later that day we found the pride that had visited our camp, lazing in the grass. The remains of last night’s dinner stained the fur around their mouths. This is the photo I snapped of the huge male - he's looking straight at the camera. Can you see the young pretender in the background too? The world's most adorable cub.


It was a WONDERFULLY scary moment that I'll remember for a lifetime.


#serengeti #savannah #tanzania #safari #amwriting #travel #africa #lions #lionpride #camping #photography #wildlifephotography

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