After hearing that we had just missed the lion pride by an hour on the day of our arrival, we were a tad disappointed and wished we had been here sooner. Oh well… Africa waits for no one. We got to know the lodge owners and their family over dinner and drinks and settled in quite nicely. When our eyelids got heavy, Dave walked us (rifle included) to our tent. This lodge is a luxury tented camp meaning that we are sleeping in a tent but it’s the fanciest tent I’ve ever seen. It’s on a raised platform with a thatched roof above and wooden doors on the front and back. The sink, toilet and shower are outside the back door but under the thatched roof. It’s really pretty cool! We dropped our stuff, i hopped in the shower (outside with a roof but open to the bush with just a half wall) and while I was washing my hair, I heard a low rumbling “Ahwooh”. I thought cameron was messing with me but just then he popped his head around the corner with big eyes saying ‘did you hear that?’. Yep, it was lions calling to one another less than a km away. How cool is that?! So we tucked into bed and fell asleep listening to the lions. The next morning we got up at 5:30 and headed to the lodge. No sooner than we were approaching the verandah, they motion us to come in quickly and point over across the open area to the lion pride emerging from the tall Kalahari grasses. We were in awe. They came into the clearing and stopped at the watering hole about 100ft from the verandah we were sitting on. One large male, three females and four cubs. They drank for what seemed liked forever until the cubs started playing, affectionately nestling with the male and bouncing here and there. The lionesses decided to get a better look at us and moved in closer – each staggering their positions. The cubs tried to perfect their stalking skills on their mom, crouching low in the grass behind her and then pouncing on her back and eventually her head. So cute!
The lionesses grew bored and more curious and came even closer. At this point they were probably 40 ft away. Everyone slowly moved back off the verandah into the lodge itself. While still open, it had a half wall and offered a little more protection. The lionesses and cubs strolled even closer and we retreated into the office in the lodge where we could still see everything but it had doors so that we could be enclosed if the need arose. The lions strolled around the lodge, checking us out, and then plopped down in the sand behind the Landcruisers. We weren’t going anywhere! The big male had been still at the water hole but he then got up and headed over to the tents where we had slept and where the owners’ 83 yr old mother was still sleeping. We didnt want her to come out of her tent unaware that there were lions enjoying the shade under her. George hopped in one of the other landcruisers and headed over to warn her to stay in. Meanwhile back at the lodge, Dave was trying to scare the lionesses from getting too comfortable in the camp. He tried several things including yelling, arm waving and then warned us that he was going to try the air horn to frighten her away. We plugged our ears while watching this lioness and HOOOOOOOOONK … Nothing, not even a muscle twitch or an eye flinch. Nada. She just casually laid there like that was a normal everyday sound in the bush. George returned in the smaller Landy and had chased the lions off for now – maybe they chased each other actually from the sounds of it. The lioness laying behind the Cruiser finally got up and meandered off to find the rest of the pride and we were able to continue our morning. Quite the excitement to get the blood flowing in the morning though!
We took a drive through the bush, saw quite a few antelope varieties, birds, etc and then we wound up at one of the hides where Melanie greeted us with breakfast supplies. They made breakfast there while we all watched the waterhole – seeing mostly birds. The Kalahari has just exploded into green since the rains came a few weeks ago so the animals have grass and leaves to eat and come to the water holes much less often. Breakfast was amazing and then we headed back to the lodge to rest for the days relaxation before the evening drive.
Everyone here at Dinaka is wonderful – including Dave’s two kids, Michaela (9) and Kyle (7). We have had a ton of fun with them – watching them play in the lodge and run around in the sand and the pool and having the best time I think kids could have. It doesn’t get much more fun than living at a safari lodge – barefoot about 90% of the time!
Time to go – more soon…