Sunday morning, Nossob camp site.
Two more great things happened. Early morning we moved from the site where we slept to another site that has two huge shady trees. The coolness brought solace to our situation of being stuck without a vehicle. It was not that bad really, but for all intents and purposes, being in the KNP and not able to do an early morning drive, was not so good. Thus, sitting in the shade, I updated my journal until the next thing happened. Ground squirrels… Soon enough I was following them all over the grounds and the loss of driving out was forgotten. An hour or so of squirrel antics later had me humming an old Chipmunks song whilst I was fixing breakfast.
Just as we were settling in to carry on working, we were offered a lift by our guardian angels of the previous day. (Later on I said to partner that we must have moped something terrible…)
Imagine our joy and utter pleasure when we turned the bend at Marie’s Gat drinking hole and found sixteen lions scattered all over the place. They were resting after a huge meal – an Eland kill earlier in the morning. Not too many photo opportunities, as they were mostly hidden in the grass underneath the trees, but it was such privilege to be there and to see them as they lazed about with stuffed tummies.
Back at camp a couple of hours later, we decided that a swim was the only cure for the dry hot breeze that stole the coolness of the shade. Another 45 degree day tested the endurance of beings who dwell in the desert. I felt guilty when I dove into the cool water, knowing that water is so precious in this arid, desolate landscape. My thoughts still fresh in mind, a flock of Scaly-feathered Finches landed on the pool paving to drink from the splashed water. I watched them shamefully and yet at the same token, exhaled once more as the cold water soothed my parched body…
By late afternoon, we once again “hitched a ride” and were on our way to Marie’s Gat where we found the lions earlier. By now, the sun was behind the dune where they lay in the morning and the shade seemed to animate them somewhat. We parked and watched two cubs and their mum having a slow stretch in the middle of the road. Mum flopped over and the cubs decided to explore – giving the vehicle a sniff-down and then made eye contact with the passengers. Their eyes… what incredible eyes they have! I could see their mischief and pride at the same time. They will turn out to be magnificent Kalahari lions I thought as we continued to stare at each other. Soon the road started to become busier and busier as more people arrived for their late afternoon drive, but in the world of these desert lions, humans can wait. Something timeless hung in the air as a pride of lions did what lions do after a heavy Sunday meal. We turned around from the lion-roadblock and parked at the waterhole, hoping that soon their thirst would bring them there and it was not long before one of the two magnificent black-maned males came down the road in full majestic glorious gait. And stopped midway to plonk down in the road like a bag of vrot (rotten) potatoes. We were floored! And his expression of embarrassment just gave rise to another fit of laughter.
Dusk approached by the time we drove through the gates at Nossob. We had to tear ourselves away from the water hole, from a pride of lions and night that was approaching over the coppery red horizon. But then, there was the barking gecko’s, the White-faced owl and the peace of glowing embers in star-lit sky that awaited us at camp. (And a car part that would hopefully arrive by late Monday evening…)