June 24th, Last day, Lions, lions everywhere . . . and?, Sunday – Part 2
Another car comes and the driver tells me something in Afrikaans. I do not understand so much but what I understand is “leeu!”. Then he explains me in English there are some lions two kilometers behind the branch off to Transport Dam. They have something caught but he doesn’t know what it is.
What is next I do? Yes, I postpone my plans to go to Renosterkoppies Dam and drive the H1-1 towards Pretoriuskop.
At the junction to the dam I look on the tachometer and start searching for the lions after one kilometre.
Two kilometres, now they should come. But nothing is to see.
Three kilometres, did I understand him right? Or was he telling me the lions are two kilometres behind the junction in the direction to Transport Dam?
Four kilometres, . . . Maybe this guy was just kidding me.
There will come no lions anymore. I only have lost time again.
It is already almost five kilometres now and I decide: ”After the next rounded hilltop I will turn over!”. . . .
But when I’m on this hilltop I can see it!
A lioness is walking in the road followed by some cars. Then a second lioness comes out of the sparse bush. All the other cars are driving in my direction and I’m the only one the lionesses are walking to. I make use of it mercilessly. I turn and let the first lioness walk beside my car. More lions come and soon I’m right in the middle of this pride.
Eight, ten or more lions.
I can’t count them: Lions, lions are everywhere.
Between them are some youngsters. I take picture after picture and often the lions are very close and their heads are only centimetres away from my open windows.
Lions, lions everywhere . . . . . Beautiful they are walking in the morning light. Just beautiful!
I take so many pictures that makes the camera too busy to store it. Another car comes in front of me but soon I’m at the best place again - wherever it will be.
I don’t know how long this lasts but I estimate I have taken more then hundred pictures of the lions already.
In the meantime there is no time to take care whether my arm and shoulder are inside or outside the window. When will I ever get a chance like this again?
No, not to loose an arm!
To get a chance to be between a lion pride so close? Maybe never. Still I take picture after picture and very often the camera is not working because the lion in the focus is within a two meters range which is to close for the camera.
Then a car comes from behind and drives exactly between me and the lion I will photograph right now. First I'm not very disappointed about that. But when the lady in the passenger seat sees my lack of understanding and asks me very arrogant, "So what?” an argument starts.
Can this really have been a lady? Maybe this would have last for hours but it ends when I focus my camera in her direction to take a photo of this very special Kruger species.
Fast she closes her window and it seems she starts an argument with her husband that makes him lacking in concentration. I use my advantage and force me through. I’m at the best place again.
Soon my card is full and I have to change it. It lasts only seconds and the camera is ready again. Ready to store some more pictures, many more.
From time to time the wind brings in the smell of the lions. Another smell of Africa: Wild, intensive and terrible. A mixture of urine, excrements and rotten meat. I would say enjoyable and pleasant . . . . Yes, enjoyable and pleasant are just the opposite.
Finally the lions go all to the right and soon they disappear in the dense bush in the direction to Transport Dam leaving many people behind with only one thought: How can I overtake all the other cars to be first at Transport Dam.
I still consider whether these have been the lions I was told about at the junction and drive to the Transport Dam too. I have a look for the pictures during driving. They are okay but most of them are close-ups because the lions have always been so close – to close.
At Transport Dam a lot of cars is waiting for the lions. As there is not enough time for me to wait for them too I leave for Renosterkoppies Dam.
If you think of a cat in Kruger you probably will think of a leopard first.
Yes Jubatus I know, you and Felis will not, but most of us, especially Pardus, will.
At least I do.
So following the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who once wrote: “Das Leben und dazu eine Katze, das ergibt eine unglaubliche Summe, ich schwör´s euch” what means “The life and in addition a cat, this proves an unbelievable sum, I swear it to you”, it would be tremendous to get a leopard too.
I get no leopard till now. More then two weeks staying in Kruger and I have seen no leopard. Wishfully I remember my first Kruger visits when I was staying on this Game farm at the bank of the Olifants. On all three or four days when I went to Kruger I saw a leopard – everyday. During the following years these sightings went down to a leopard within some days. But no leopard during two weeks is unbelievable.
It has to be compensated with cheetahs in the tree! That is like I would have seen a leopard, isn’t it? Can we agree?
You are very hard to me.
But I have heard one at Mathekenyane. This should count as a leopard!
Okay, then let's go on.
On my way back the H1-1 and some kilometers south the H3 I’m still impressed by this beautiful experience with the lions and I don’t see so much game.
Following the S112 I meet a herd of Zebra. It is a few minutes past eight and the light is still soft and the Zebras are standing where they should stay. I take many pictures and remember I have taken very few of Zebras and Wildebeest till now.
Always when I met a herd I was thinking there will come many more during my stay and finally I missed good shots of these two species. But not today. These beautiful wild horses of Africa remain in the best light and I only have to push the button. Pry they look in my direction or is it only why I’m talking to them?
When I come to Renoosterkoppies Dam first I see seven Rhinos staying in and around the waterhole.
As the waterhole itself is looking so artificial I avoid taking many pictures and soon I’m concentrating on a lonely Wildebeest that is walking in the morning sun.
I pass another car and I’m told there is a lion beyond one of the bushes but I can’t see it. A few moments later another lion is roaring somewhere.
The Wildebeest is crossing the road now and goes its way exactly in the direction I have been told the lion is waiting. I scan the vicinity with my binocular but I still can’t find the lion. When the Wildebeest passes the bush where I suppose the lion is waiting nothing happens. As I find out later the lion has left when the other lion was calling and the Wildebeest is quite save on its way to the waterhole.
I leave the dam and follow for some hundred meters the S21-N’watimhiri Road towards Lower Sabie searching for the lions but can’t find them. So I turn and drive the S114 to go to Biyamiti weir for a last time.
After driving for some time “I would like to see a Giraffe now”, comes into my mind.
A few moments later at the junction S114 and H5 I take the wrong direction and what I see shortly before I make a turn is a Giraffe.
For me the Giraffe is the most typical animal of Africa. Unique, majestic and beautiful.
I’m driving fast now because I still want to be at the Malelane gate at 11am.
But my next target is still Biyamiti Weir hoping to get a good picture of the crocodile there. And I still hope to get my leopard somewhere.
Anyway even without a leopard this have been beautiful weeks with beautiful sights and adventures.
When I'm halfway between the Muhlambamamadvube river crossing and the weir and I go around a curve a car flashes the lights and the driver takes his arm out of the window to wave me down.
His arm? Of course his. It would be very difficult for him to take out another’s arm.
First I think it will be a nice couple who stops me to show me a rhino or buffalo some hundred meters away in the dense bush. But I’m wrong.
Everything can change in a moment and you can see the flipside of the coin. This time it is the better one.
To be continued . . . .