Lion on the Savannah

Even before you hear it, you know it. It’s in your DNA. Thrilling and terrifying, musical and primordial: the roar of a lion.

The sun is setting over Londolozi Game Reserve in northern South Africa. I’m sitting in an open Land Rover with guests at our yearly Self-Transformation Adventure Retreat (STAR). Twenty feet away from us stands a huge male lion. 

The lion lifts his head, sniffs the air. Then his massive body seems to swell as he draws in a huge breath. We hear a low moan that rises rapidly until it’s nearly as loud as a jet engine. It shakes our bones. It raises the hairs on our arms. 

The sound drops into a series of grunts, then stops. The guests chuckle nervously, because they know that sound. We all evolved with it printed in our brains. 

Boyd Varty, who grew up at Londolozi and coaches the STARs with me, turns and whispers, “He’s calling his pride.”

A few seconds later, the sound comes again, this time very faintly. The lion’s pride is over five miles away—imagine shouting loudly enough to be heard at that distance!

Boyd murmurs to the STARlings, “In the future, when you’re stuck at your desk or in rush hour traffic, stop and remember that lions are still calling. The wild is still here. It’s in you.”

Six months later, home in America, I’m trying to write about this experience when out of the blue, Boyd calls from Londolozi. This is a rare treat; we rarely talk on the phone. Boyd begins to ask me a question, then stops abruptly and says, “Listen.”

And then, this time from a distance of ten thousand miles, I hear lions.

“Well,” says Boyd, “I guess that’s why I felt like phoning—so they could say hello.”

Even if you’ve never heard a lion roar, I promise you know the sound.  You may be able to hear it right now. 

Not with your ears. With your soul.  

Because they’re still out there, at this moment, as you read this. If the thought of that makes the skin on your arms prickle, pay attention. 

Somewhere far away, just barely audible, your wild pride is calling you home.

Join us for the African STAR.