Nsala Leopard 2 - Client Photo Angela Cosey

Nsala Leopard Experience

Natural World Safaris

Angie Cosey

23 Sep 2021

Read the first-hand account from one of our US clients who recently had an up-close leopard experience at Nsala Safari Camp.

We tipped back the last of our gin and tonic as the sun slid down the horizon. Climbing back in the Land Rover, we left the site of our sundowner to follow a small clan of hyenas that were bathing in a muddy water hole nearby. The smell was incredible – like a thousand unwashed ferrets. One hyena dipped his head underwater and came up with a length of spinal column clutched in his teeth – a gruesome trophy from some kill that had been long since devoured.

We watched the young hyena gnaw on the vertebrae for a while – there must have still been some flavor in there – before turning to make our way slowly back towards camp. As we passed the dry riverbed we’d been tippling at not 30 minutes before, our tracker Sunday held up his hand, vision intently focused on the tall grass at the far bank. Jordan, our driver, killed the engine and we waited, straining our eyes to spot whatever Sunday had seen.

Nsala Leopard - Client Photo Angela Cosey

After a moment a rustle in the grass gave way to a lithe and lissome presence. She moved like a ghost, like water, sliding silently, almost ethereally across the riverbed and up the embankment closest to us where she stopped.

In the gathering shadows of dusk, the leopard turned her pale, spectral gaze upon us.

We were transfixed, mesmerized by her presence and her beauty. She stared us down for a moment, neither afraid nor particularly curious. Her stare seemed to fix us in place and confident that we wouldn’t dare move, she crouched to drink from the small pool of water that had drawn her attention.

She didn’t stay long, slaking her thirst in the shallow puddle and then turning to glide back the way she came. So silent, so perfect was she that when she disappeared in the grass we were left wondering if our encounter was real or if it was some trick that the twilight and the gin were playing on our eyes.

Nsala Hyena with Spine - Client Photo Angela Cosey
Leopard, South Africa

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