This mornings game drive finally yielded us the lions we had been hoping for – three males who have been separated from their pride a few days ago and are trying to catch up. The tracker, Sidwell, found fresh tracks on the dirt road and decided to hop off the Landcruiser and follow their tracks on foot. We all decided it was best for the rest of us to stay in the vehicle with the driver. We would make the ‘block’ to see if there were tracks leading out the other side to determine how far the lions have gone. After quite a while of searching, Sidwell radioed back and told us he’d found the lions and how to get to him/them. We made a bee-line for them and sure enough, found the lions laying under thick brush to escape today’s heat. They were wonderful to see. But, they were pretty obscured in the bush so we watched for a while and then left them in peace to sleep for the day. Usually lions will bed down for the day and not move until about 5pm when it cools off a bit. So we reasoned that they would be easy to find later today when we came back out for the evening drive. Well, lions don’t really see the need to follow many rules. We drove straight to where they’d last been spotted and they were nowhere to be seen. Bummer. Back to searching. As Kjell (Naledi owner and game driver) puts it, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack – and the needle moves. Sidwell hopped off again with only a radio in his hand and was off to find more tracks. We made seemingly endless circles of the nearby area refusing to admit defeat. We kept feeling that the lions were watching us and laughing at the silly humans who couldn’t find them. After about an hour, we turned down a road we hadn’t checked yet and as we crested the hill, there they were in all their glory, sprawled out just near the edge of the path. Success!! Cameras clicked furiously as we all watched in awe. I have seen lions now on several occasions during these two trips to Africa and each time, I’m awestruck. Pictures will never do them justice. They can’t convey the awesome power, the grace, the beauty that these majestic cats embody. I’ve posted several pictures below of my attempt to try to capture their beauty…
Oh and during our break between breakfast and lunch today, five of us decided it would be great to go on a bush walk with Sidwell the tracker. He told us about the native trees and plants, what ailments they cure, how to brush your teeth or create makeshift toilet paper from plants in the bush. We saw a giraffe while on foot and several birds but the day got hot and we made our way back to camp to have a swim. What we realized later that afternoon was that we were walking awfully close to where those 3 lions were moving through the area. Yikes!
Wow…lions are calling in the darkness of the bush while I type this. I’m sitting outside on the patio after dinner enjoying the evening. And that tops it all off.