If I had to name one reason why I totally love being on safari in the Kruger Park I would probably say something like it’s because of the idea that each day when you roll out of bed and hit the road, you really have no idea what surprises the Kruger has in store for you. Maybe you will run across a breeding herd of elephants peacefully frolicking in a waterhole or maybe you might forced to reverse down a narrow dirt road by a big elephant bull who could easily flip your vehicule in one swift trunk swipe. Maybe there will be a crash of rhinos blocking the road and you will have to eventually turn around and find another road. Maybe you’ll plan a quick stop at a waterhole just to check it out but you end up sitting for a couple hours just watching (and taking zillions of photos) the diverse bird life and all the other creatures coming down for a visit. The possibilites for special sightings in Kruger are endless but sometimes there are some that are just a little more special for one reason or another. One of those is what I wanted to blog about today.
This particular day on my recent visit to Kruger Park had started out overcast and drizzily. I had already had some great sightings on previous days but with the weather being as it was, I really didn’t have any high expectations and I was in fact glad that the rain had finally brought the high temperatures of the previous days down a bit. However the Kruger had other ideas for this day and soon I found myself at an amazing cheetah sighting; only the second time in my life that I have seen them. That was special, really special but that sighting isn’t what I am going to write about today (I will one day but you’ll have to wait a bit for that one).
It was the sighting just after lunch, during the off-peak safari hours in which it is usually way too hot and most of the animals are hiding somewhere in the shade that was really, really extra special to me. I was driving down a dirt road between Lower Sabie and Skukuza (S128 aka the Old Tshokwane Road for those fanatics that like all the details) when I saw this:
Lionesses in the Road
There were 2 lionesses lying in the road, one on each side. And they were staring intently up the road at this:
While lion sightings aren’t really all that rare, this was the very first time I have spotted lions and there were no other vehicles in sight. I really couldn’t believe my luck. I kept looking back, looking forward but it was just me and the ladies. The two lionesses gave me a quick sideways glance to let me know they knew I was there and then immediately went back to watching the road ahead.
I slowly positioned my car sideways in the road, a few meters back so that I could optimally photograph them through my open windows. I kept thinking that I would probably need to readjust when someone else came along but they never did, it was just me and the ladies.
I started clicking away. The lionesses completely ignored my presence and continued watching the road ahead. Now this may sound a bit morbid, especially coming from a vegetarian, but I just couldn’t help hoping that maybe, just maybe I was about to see my very first kill in action.
Second lioness watching the zebras and giraffe in the road ahead
For about 15 minutes the lionesses stared ahead, presumably trying to decide just how hungry they really were.
What a beauty
The lioness on the right finally decided to make a move and slowly got up and walked across the road to further discuss the afternoon plans with her cohort.
Just look at those paws
The next couple of minutes were simply breathtaking as these 2 performed a very affectionate lion meet-and-greet.
Plenty of Headrubs
Amazing ladies of the bush
Finally an agreement was made that the hunt was to be called off and the ladies got up, stretched and yawned a bit and slowly wandered off into the bush.
I’m done here
Too sleepy to hunt
Let me show you my teeth
No more photos please
And they were gone. I sat quietly for a few more moments to see if they would return or maybe come out of the bush further up the road but there would be no encore performance today. As I started up the car, I couldn’t stop smiling as I pulled away. This beautiful moment was mine and mine alone and one that I will never forget.
The lunch that was not to be
As I continued down the road, the zebras were still huddled together, a few giraffes were peacefully grazing and a rather large elephant was slowly making his way to the party. I did wonder if it was possibly the elephant’s presence that had deterred the hunt but this will remain a mystery.
Classic Africa Scene
Little did I know, my incredible afternoon drive was far from over. About 10 minutes later, while I was still gushing with excitement about the day’s events, another car flagged me down to tell me about yet another incredible sighting just down the road which would turn out to be another first for me. But this will have to be a story for another day, stay tuned.