We entered the park this morning very early. It was me, Scipio and my two sons. We were spending the night in Shingwedzi and decided that we are going to do the long low-maintenance route today. This was now the first time that I’ve been on one of these roads, and let me tell you... it is heaven!! No other cars around, the peace and quietness of the bush was awesome. If you stop and switch off your engine and manage to get the kids quiet for a couple of minutes, it is a feeling you cannot really describe to anyone.
In the first few km on the road, I tended to grab on to something to hold my balance, but after I got a very dirty look from the driver I decided to rather keep my cool and trust him that he will get us to the tar road again without a problem.
I started to relax and there was a very good vibe in the Jeep. All the past few weeks’ tension was gone and we were enjoying the route tremendously. Suddenly Scipio stopped and told us the dung in the road was those of rhino, and not even 1km on, we came across them. They got such a fright of us suddenly appearing and started to run... 2 black rhino, a mother and a calf. I couldn’t believe my eyes, for years on I’ve been trying to spot a black rhino, and here... just next to us were 2 running for their lives. Unfortunately we cannot deliver any photo evidence, as they were running so fast and the branches and bushes were in the way.
You could feel and smell the excitement in the Jeep as we were continuing on our way down the road. Near the Letaba River look-out point, I looked to the driver’s side and my eye caught something in the bush. Dismissing it as impossible, I looked away. Then I realised what I saw and “very politely” asked him to please stop, there is some lions next to the road. He didn’t believe me!! By this time I almost shouted at him to reverse... hoping that I was right, and what I saw were really the faces of 2 lions.
And there about 30m in, was a pride of about 20 lions. We started counting what we could see in between the bushes and grass over about 100m, and stopped counting eventually at 20. There were lionesses and cubs of different sizes. We spend a long time with them, hoping they would get up for photo opportunities, but they were enjoying the day in being lazy. Every now and then you will just see a tail or leg or ear moving.
This was the best of our pics
By this time there was no end to the chatter from the back seat with the two boys. And so we drove, and drove, and drove, when my one son screamed LION! STOP! No way, that is impossible? And there next to the road were the two biggest males I have ever seen! The one got up and moved a little closer (now about 5m from the Jeep) into the shade. Our day was made... no, our whole weekend was made!! We could hear the traffic from the tar road and we knew that this is almost the end to this road.
So we just switched off the engine again and sat there with them.