Their plane running 20 minutes early we arrived at the strip as they landed and it was indeed great to meet up again with part of the Allan family. We started our safari and went in the direction of camp which when we arrived, everyone was very impressed with the accommodation and main area and thought the level of comfort was just perfect. A bit of time to rest and high tea in the afternoon saw us leaving for a short game drive. The goal was to try and see giraffe as this was achieved. Bladen who was not feeling too well after surgery ruptured appendix earlier in the trip stayed in camp.
The next morning a few of the kids stayed in camp to try and catch up with their sleep. The wildlife was quiet and quite often I was heard remarking on how exciting and productive the few days prior to their arrival had been. At midday we found ourselves in camp for brunch and, has it had been a quiet morning we decided to go out straight after the short meal. The contrast in the variety and concentration of wildlife was unbelievable. Within two minutes of leaving the camp we encountered giraffe, kudu, elephants, impala, baboons and various bird species in different acts. This included the black egret showing off his fascinating fishing technique. We also caught up with a big herd of elephant swimming and wading across different parts of the Linyanti marsh which off course is very deep after the 22 year high rainfall and flood. As we were driving to find a spot for sundowners we encountered a herd of buffalo coming down to the water for a drink. We shared some quality time with this relaxed herd of bovines. This marked the transition from very interesting day and to an always welcome cool evening. A couple of hours spotlighting and we returned home to enjoy dinner, a bit of time around the campfire and then retire.
In all this time the position of the lions was brought up and all we could do besides tell the story of their movements and various interesting dynamics was to go back to how good the few days prior to the arrive of the Allan party had been for us and the big cats. On one of the evenings we heard them call and we tried to follow them but all we could see was tracks.
These searches were not limited by time at all and driven by enthusiasm, a relaxed safari attitude and perhaps a little bit of pressure on the guides.
The search was so thorough that a leopard who thought he was out of game drive time and could roam the wilds of the Linyanti without disturbance was seen. It turned out to be a relaxed female who was taking advantage of the windy and hazy day to try and hunt. The rest of the day maintained the same relaxed, productive pace with another early afternoon outing but after a bit of spotlighting we came back home to a wonderful surprise in the way of a boma dinner. The Beautiful rich voices of the staff singing, the starry new moon sky and the part traditional meal all made for a memorable evening which ended up being very emotional.
In this emotion Susan, who used to be a professional singer but had not sung for years sang, what i consider a once in a lifetime experience and that expressed how the party felt. Tears of joy streamed down faces in this semi lit scene and after that we retired for the day.
During the last night in camp we were serenaded by lions roar again, this time through the night but whether we would find them or not was still questionable. While having our early morning tea we hear the male call again and when Thathi and myself agreed on the location of the lions I felt our fortunes with the big cats was about to change.
We went off in the direction well before sunrise and encountered a herd of beautiful kudu bulls, giraffe, baboons and squirrels making the most of the early morning sun. We heard the lions roar again and that gave us a boost of confidence. As we got closer we heard what sounded like the mating of a pair of lions and as much as I wanted to avoid too much excitement the talk of this sent a wave of excitement, anxiety on the vehicles. We were parked in the area where we thought we hear them when all of a sudden a big, shaggy coat of ginger mane moved in the grass in the direction of a few heads. The interaction we witnessed this morning was certainly a lot more than we bargained for. The male got up and lashed his large claws at one of the younger males who growled back just enough to avoid embarrassment before being the for-runner in a high speed chase. The females followed and managed to protect this young male and in similar fashion to when we arrived, calm prevailed.
While they were sitting in front of us the female that was the lead in rescuing the young male got up and went to the male, rubbing herself against him and then lying next to him in a flirtatious manner. He rose to the occasion and we witnessed a very emotional mating session as the rest of the small pride looked on. Fighting and mating was on order for the next few hours and the attitude, magnitude of the sound and the territory marking could only remind one of watching a documentary on lion battles in an Imax theatre, the only difference being this was the real act.
The conditions around us were just right. From a fire burning in the distance the air was smokey allowing for a long light window, the setting was surrounded by the call of cape turtle doves, ground hornbills and elephants rumbling in the distance. We managed to establish that the mail was of the local Linyanti pride who was making the most of a small pride that moved into the area with the possibility of settling down with the pride himself.
Pressure on the guides released, jaws dropped low in the surprise and excitement of having witnessed such interactions we journeyed on back to camp for a quick brunch and then a departure for the airfield. This experience provided a great climax and ending to a wonderful, exciting and adventurous safari for the Allan party.
As I note the events of the last few days (with a big bubble around my head) i can hear the roars of the lions in the distance and have an idea of exactly what is going on with the pride within 3 kilometres of the camp”.
Cheers for now