There are specific rules for spending time with lions.

“You are food,” said Crystal Daggett-Robinson of Cushing. “Never run. Food runs.”

She and her husband, Christopher, spent three weeks on an adventure vacation in Africa over the holidays to celebrate their 30 years of marriage. During their trip they visited one of the most dangerous cities in the world and spent time with some of the most dangerous animals in the world.

“It’s something you never forget,” Robinson said, explaining why she wanted to visit Africa. “You’ll remember it the rest of your life. It really changes your whole life.”

The biggest dangers, aside from other humans, she said, were elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, leopards and rhinoceros.

“They told us to never turn our backs on them [lions] and to not allow ourselves to be afraid,” Robinson said in an e-mail. “People who are afraid smell yummy.”

The couple visited Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Robinson said the national parks that protect the animals from poachers are massive in scale, some as big as small states. She described flying over miles and miles of virgin forest and savanna in a small five-seat plane and seeing no roads or telephone poles or signs of human civilization.

On the ground, the couple traveled in Land Rovers into the savanna and close to the big game. Among the most harrowing experiences was meeting the elephants.

“We were charged more than once,” she wrote. “It is absolutely petrifying to have an elephant flap out its ears, trumpet and come at you, stopping just a few feet away before backing down. Our guides told us to stay very still and quiet which we did. The only noise was the sound of our hearts pounding in our ears.”

The guides were very knowledgeable about the habits of the animals, she said. They would drive the visitors out into the vast area and find the lions and elephants based on what they could see in the behavior of the birds and tracks left on the ground.

The couple stayed in tents in wilderness areas and witnessed a large variety of creatures on the plains. Giraffes, buffaloes, jackals and cheetahs could all be seen.

“There were four lionesses and this one male just outside of our tent,” Robinson wrote. “There were fresh tracks all around camp. The only thing separating us from the lions was mosquito netting. We could hear the male lion grunting in the morning before we left our tent to go to the main lodge for breakfast.”

She said it was important to face a lion down if it approached rather than turn one’s back on it. Lions see humans as fellow predators because of the way people’s eyes are set. Predators have both eyes focusing forward in the animal world, whereas prey tend to have eyes on the sides of the head so these animals can see danger coming.

“One of the managers in Namibia said she was charged by a male lion in heat just outside of the lodge with everyone watching,” Robinson wrote. “Guns are not allowed in the parks in Namibia and Botswana. He ran toward her full tilt, but she held her ground and faced him down. He came to a sliding stop inches in front of her. The dirt flew up into her face.”

The couple visited the famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Here there was some civilization with a small town built up to support the tourism at the site. Dangerous wild animals roamed the streets of the town at night, however, and visitors were warned not to venture out after dark.

In addition to worrying about what might eat them, the couple also got to experiment with what they might eat.

“Termites taste like peanuts,” Robinson said. “Young children run outside after a rain storm to catch them. They pull off the wings and eat them raw. We couldn’t quite make ourselves pull the wings off of a living thing and eat it alive. Our guides said fried termites are excellent with beer. We were hoping to try them but they weren’t offered anywhere we went. We did get to eat mopani worms, crocodile, warthog, impala, elan, and buffalo though.”

The couple visited Johannesburg, South Africa, which they said has a reputation as being one of the most dangerous cities in the world. They were told not to go out, even to parking lots.

“Our hotel complex was surrounded by high wires and there were signs reminding us that they were not to be held responsible for our death,” Robinson said.

The couple visited the Apartheid Museum and the Johannesburg suburb where Nelson Mandela lived before he was put in prison.

“We also saw the stadium, which is being built for the World Cup, which will be held there this year,” Robinson said. “The South Africans are very proud of this.”

They learned a great deal about the extreme poverty among people in some parts of the continent and the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Robinson said tourism helps pay for the parks that protect wildlife in Africa from poachers.

Crystal Daggett-Robinson and Christopher Robinson own Daggett Builders Inc. in Cushing and the concierge service Ask A Mainer. Crystal Daggett-Robinson said they saved their money for a while to take this vacation.

This was not their first adventure. Robinson said they visited Sri Lanka near India during its civil war. At the time, the price for traveling was down, she said, and it was a wonderful trip.

Her son, Alex Robinson, is in China teaching English now, and she hopes to one day visit Turkey.

She and her husband look forward to eventually learning the ways and the rules of another new land.