This morning we had the most UNBELIEVABLE game drive. It was the most exhilarating experience of my LIFE!!! There were reports of a pride of lion on the one side of the reserve, and rangers were tracking them. They had been unsuccessful in spotting the pride but we were making our way there anyway to help look. We crossed the river and decided to check if the lazy leopard was still sleeping in her hideaway.
Surprise surprise, she was still there, but this morning she at least was awake and had her head up. Wonderful! A few minutes passed as we were snapping away, when suddenly she looked extremely alert and got up. We turned around to see what caught her attention and spotted 5 lions making their way down the bank on the other side of the river. NFW! WHAT LUCK!!! This was the pride everyone was searching for!! I am still astounded that we were literally just in the right place at the right time. If we hadn’t stopped to see if the Leopard was still there we would have missed all of this!!!
The Leopard quickly made a run for it –she was certainly no match for 5 lions and she had stored her kill in her cove which they would surely discover. What a smart girl to get away so quickly! The lions hadn’t spotted her yet and instead put on a show for us by cuddling up with each other on the other side of the river. We drove there to get a closer look. The lions started sniffing the air, I was sure they were catching our scent and would attack this new ‘human’ meat at any moment, but no they were fine:)
I think they were somewhat disturbed by another vehicle approaching and decided to cross the river. I didn’t catch it on camera but the one lion jumped into the water from the bank & ran across right by us– it was so stunning to see it!!!!
Turns out the scent they caught in the air was the smell of the other leopard and her kill and they swiftly made their way to the cove after having a little fight with each other. One of the females got there first and claimed the food for herself. The lion who claimed the meat first was not prepared to share AT ALL and was making her point clear to the rest of the pride by constantly growling. They weren’t pushing it at first but then got braver or more desperate and went in to challenge her, and a fight broke out. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD to actually be here to see all of this and be less than 4 metres away from fighting lions!!!!
After such a successful morning drive, we decided to have a nap when we got back after having breakfast. Boy I am STUFFED. I am actually tired of being stuffed. I might have to give desert a skip tonight ;)
Just before we went to sleep, we got a call from Johnny who unfortunately couldn’t take us out that evening. The General Manager got back from her holiday that day and I think she told the rangers that guests needed to be grouped together. Several couples left today and there was space in one of the other vehicles for Rich & I. I sulked for a bit cos I just love Johnny – he is truly the best, if anyone goes here please request him:)
But I got over it quickly! New people, new experiences, new adventures!
A lovely Indian family had arrived and we would be driving with them & the ranger, Phil. He is also very sweet but I told him he had big shoes to fill! He asks what we would all like to see and the family immediately replies “the big 5” – of course! Everyone wants to see the big 5 :P we have already seen all the animals we wanted except for black rhino which is apparently one of the most elusive animals, and Rich is dying to see an African Rock Python – but we’re super chilled as we’re just happy to go along on another drive. Something interesting happens on every single drive and I’m glad Johnny said that to us when we first arrived. It is Murphy’s Law that the one game drive you miss – there will usually be something super exciting that happens.
The first animal sighting we had that afternoon were 5 beautiful Giraffe. They are one of my favourites, such stunning, graceful, delicate creatures! A few metres down the road we spotted a lone male elephant. He seemed quite nervous so we didn’t stay long or get too close. Phil explained that you can tell they are nervous when they rock on their feet. There is also a wet patch which appears on the elephants ‘cheeks’ – kinda between the eyes and ears. This wet patch could also signal that the elephant is happy, but combined with other symptoms it was deduced that he was nervous. We rounded the dam and saw the reason for his nervousness – a big white Rhino was there beside the dam only about 20-30 metres away from the elephant.
Phil then took us for a drive along the river bank which was just gorgeous with the sun setting in the background casting stunning shadows on the water. I strain my eyes in the hope to see some crocodile but don’t spot any. You can see how high the river floods by the riverbank which is next to us. There are even dead stray branches stuck in the trees which must be about 1 metre or 2 above our heads. Wow! This river must look amaazing in full flood.
We’re on a secret mission again & we go ‘aaaah’ again as a big beautiful lion comes into view. He is sleeping on the grass – again – lazy cat! But we stick around again in hope that we get something audible out of him. We are in luck this time as he soon gets up, moves to a different location and starts calling out for his brother. I happily caught this on camera. It’s the wrong angle but just being there right next to this lion, its loud and divine to watch.
You could see the lion straining his ears as he listens out for the return call of his brother. I didn’t hear anything but Phil seems to hear his brother answering back. Our lion gets up and starts walking forward. We keep expecting him to stop but he doesn’t and just carries on going. Then we understand why! His brother is lying in the grass in front of us (approximately about 200/300 metres from where we began) what happens next was too adorable for words. I am so disappointed that I messed up the video of this, as I was zooming in, it lost focus – I could cry!! What a sight. As he met up with his brother they gave each other a bit of loving affection, and then flopped down next to each other. I want to cuddle them both!!! I’m starting to like kitties a lot more now :D
It gets dark and we leave the lions to make space for another vehicle. We stop for puza drinks & snacks, it’s the first time we have stopped for drinks in the dark & I am feeling pretty paranoid. We’re in the same place where we saw Hyena & Rhino yesterday and I can’t help but remember how you couldn’t hear the lion walking through the grass. I quickly head behind a bush for the bush toilet and laugh to myself as I remember a joke Johnny made when I went for my first bush wee (I’m getting used to this now!) he said you can always tell the difference between a female & male human wee as the female wee is always zigzagged from checking left and right for animals. HAHA. It’s so true!!
I escape from my bush toilet safe & sound and stay close to the vehicle for the remainder of puza. It is time to go back to the lodge.
It is rather nice sitting on the top back seat of the rover this time out as Rich & I can snuggle through the cold patches and talk quietly to ourselves. Back at the bar I enjoy my new favourite drink – I will forever call it the Robyn special as she created it for me: Malibu, orange juice & cranberry. Its divine!!! and of course Captain Morgan gets marketed wherever we go!!
More pictures can be found in the Facebook album.