Monday 04 October (Day 3)
It was after midnight when I left Priscilla and her SO, and I couldn’t help but wonder where she would find her teeth the following morning! After only a couple of hours’ sleep, a fierce wind start blowing; even after all the Savannas I’d consumed, I woke up with a jolt … my tent was flapping away wildly and I had visions of replicating scenes from Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
I lay there unable to sleep, again waiting for the sounds of tent zips opening before I dare venture out of my little tent. Life in camp, as yesterday, seemed to start around 4.30am. Before I’d even got out my tent I could see the KPB’s tent door was open and he was lying there watching what was going on in camp. “Oh nooooooooo!
“Morning” he called over.
“Morning” I replied back.
“Did you sleep well?” he enquired.
“That wind kept me awake all night” I told him.
“If you were scared, you should have come and slept by me” he said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!” “Oh, I was fine!” I told him, and quickly made my way to the loo (with my keys safely secured around my neck!).
I was in the park shortly after the gates opened at 5.30am. With all of last night’s antics, I hadn’t really planned a route for the day and decided I would just go with the flow.
Impala; wildebeest; giraffe; then at the bridge by the Gezantfombi Dam I saw one of the martial eagles I’d seen on my first day, as well as a wooly-necked stork. I was about to carry on up the tar road but decided to turn around and take the little dirt road to the back of the dam, sit there and have a couple of coffees. I was there on my own and had just poured my first coffee when out of the bushes came a beautiful lioness ….. followed by another one …. followed by 4 cubs (looked like 2 separate litters), and another lioness!!!!! WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!!
They walked over to the sandy spot by the dam wall and plonked themselves down. I was still the only car at the back of the dam, meanwhile cars would slow down at the bridge on the tar road but quickly move on, oblivious to what I could see.
The lions were there about 15 minutes when some kudu appeared from behind me. The kudu made their way down to the water and I was fascinated at how as soon as the lions spotted them they crouched down flat and almost disappeared - they blended into their surroundings so well. I couldn’t believe how instinctively the cubs did this as well!
Okay, I know this is nature but I couldn’t help thinking to myself “Oh babies, watch out, there are lions over there!” Luckily (for me and the kudu) they had their drink then wandered off - I don’t think they were even aware how close they were to becoming breakfast.
Next a giraffe came down to drink but the lions didn’t even bother taking cover for this big guy but just lay there watching him!
After a while, some impala and zebra came down to drink, and again the lions were all crouching down (and again I was thinking to myself “Oh babies … watch out!!!”). Some of the impala caught sight/smell of the lions and soon were barking their warnings to the rest of the herd.(check out the lions all crouched down by the dam wall!)
Between all this activity, the lions did what they do best but I was still enthralled watching this scene unfold.
Soon I noticed that something in the bushes from where they had originally appeared had caught the attention of one of the lionesses. I looked through my binoculars and saw a herd of wildebeest coming down to drink. The lioness who’d originally noticed the wildebeest got up and strolled in their direction, followed by the rest of the pride.
” I thought, “that’s it. They’re going to make a kill over there and it’s impossible to see through the bush. I’ll just have another coffee before moving on.”
Well, would you believe it, 10 minutes later and the pride was back … obviously unsuccessful in their attempt at a kill.
By this time I’d been sitting there about 3 and a half hours; I’d done exactly 4kms since leaving camp and I’d had an absolutely amazing time!
The females decided to have a snooze but the cubs remained awake. The wooly-necked stork got quote close to one of the cubs and it was so cute to watch this little cub chase the big birdie away!
After about an hour, a herd of buffalo appeared just the other side of the dam wall … right beside the lions!
In the time I’d been sitting there (about 4 and a half hours by now), hundreds of cars must have stopped by, taken photos and driven off. When the buffalo appeared there were about half a dozen cars on the tar road bridge and about another half a dozen around me at the back of the dam.
Anyway, the lions decided this was too good an opportunity to miss and the chase was on! The sound of car engines starting, reversing, then taking off, and people “whooping” and clapping with joy and excitement (can you believe it???), just about drowned out the sounds of the herd of buffalo trying to get away from the lions.
All the cars (those that were on the bridge and those that were around me) drove to where they were right alongside the action … (imagine a clock face and their cars are facing 12 o‘clock… the action was happening at 9 o’clock to them). I decided I didn’t want to be amongst all the cars and I found a great viewing spot (where the action was happening at 11o’clock to me and I wasn’t surrounded by other vehicles).
Well, one lioness got on the back of this buffalo and the other one was biting one of its bag legs. I was shaking so much the photos are a bit blurred but these are a few of the best shots …
Check out the cars right alongside the action … surely they aren’t supposed to be there???
The poor buffalo was making that awful sound they do when they are being killed … it had been abandoned by the rest of the herd ….
but wait …
what was that noise?
The rest of the herd had decided to do a counter-attack … this was Battle of the Kruger Part II.
The buffalo herd came back and scared the lions off of their buddy then all turned around to take off again. They were obviously faced with a barrage of cars and people hanging out their vehicles “whooping” and clapping, so what did they do …. they turned away from all the vehicles and next thing were running straight towards me!
The herd split and I had buffalo running both in front and behind me … OMG!!!!!
Behind them came the lions, aware that they’d been defeated; they crossed the dirt road behind me and disappeared into the long grass.
WHAT A MORNING!!!!