"In the jungle, the mighty jungle......

Trip Start May 20, 2010
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192
195
Trip End Sep 05, 2011


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Flag of Botswana  ,
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

DOMINIQUE HERE: Okavango Delta Day Two

Day : 461
Temperature : Always the same
Weather : You know what it's like by now...

......the LION sleeps tonight!"

After the elephants left us last night we slept soundly for most of the night, the only noises being the distant grunting of the hippos and the occasional hooting of an owl. In the morning we eagerly clambered out of our tent to inspect whatever footprints had been left from animals during the night.

Well, there were elephant prints aplenty, lots of impala prints, lots of bird prints, the odd dog print...possibly hyena or wild dog perhaps, and we reckon some cat prints! Oh boy, we were hoping to see cats. I mean, I'd been singing the Lion King soundtrack since we'd been in Kruger 6 weeks ago!

We left camp early, keen to get out on the road. On the sandy track outside camp were dozens of hippo tracks from hippos actually walking down the road as well as elephant prints criss crossing the roads every so often. Who said there are no animals in Moremi?! From our experience yesterday and during the night, as well as all the fresh prints on the roads today, we couldn't believe these stories of no animals around here. We were already having an awesome time, and we hadn't even been here for 24 hours yet.

We headed down the Mboma loop route seeing the usual suspects such as impala, hornbills as well as the odd elephant. After about half an hour we came across another vehicle that told us that there were lions along the road from which we'd come. Lions? We eagerly drove backwards, looking under each bush and tree. Finally we saw another vehicle with one passenger parked about 10 metres off the track. Just infront of the vehicle underneath some bushes were four, yes four lions. Obviously having recently eaten, they lay bloated and fat looking, resting, occasionally raising an eyebrow to look at us before rolling over again. Well, I say four lions, but really I mean three and a half....since baby lion can't really make up one whole lion, I mean, he's all paws and tail...he looks ridiculous...but I love him already and so want to take him home...ok, ok, I know this is an absurd notion, I'm not mad, I know this is a wild animal....but he's just so cute!

The other vehicle drove away after some time, leaving Kevin and I with the lions all to ourselves for the next three hours. Occasionally the lions would get up and move to a new area of shade, treating us to some fantastic yawns, stretches and rolling-over maneouvres! In fact when they decided to get up one by one and move to a new shady spot they frequenty walked right past the car. If I had opened the car door I would have hit them. And then the would stop occasionally and look us straight in the eye...and I would ever so slowly retract my arm and camera back inside the car again...wow!

It's really incredible watching a pride of lions for several hours. They are really just like domestic cats...only a tad bigger. All three lionesses protect baby, who is always watched over, even with curiosity as he leaps up and bounds all legs and paws towards a monitor lizard, where he reacts by growling at it, backside in the air, tail high, before deciding that it's not such a good idea to attack it after all. But it was also the affection between the three adult lions which was so astounding, as they groom each other and rub their heads against one another, just as your domestic moggy would do so against your own leg.

But perhaps what is so fantastic is the fact that Kev and I had these lions all to ourselves for three hours, I mean three hours. If this was Etosha there would be twenty vehicles and four overland trucks all crowding around the lions, which would no doubt get peeved off and retreat back into the bush. No, this was amazing.

We decided to leave the lions at midday and drive off to see what else we could find. Further round on the sandy track we came across more elephants and giraffe, including one particular giraffe which decided to have a stand off with us on the road. We sat in the car, some distance away, not knowing whether giraffes charge in the same manner that elephants do, but not wanting to take the chance, since this wasn't Etosha, we were in a deep and narrow sandy track with bushes encroaching on either side, and there was no change of a quick getaway should we be in trouble.

Eventually, after half an hour the giraffe decided he'd had enough of watching our car and he wandered off into the bush once more. Finally, we could move onwards. We drove back towards the lions which were still there but on the other side of the road. We drove off the track and positioned ourselves infront of a large log but with perfect view of the lions...once again all to ourselves, except when the vehicle with the lady which was there in the morning returned to see the lions half an hour after we had arrived.

At one point one of the lionesses decided that the shade behind our car was far better to the shade that she was originally lying in. We then found ourselves completely blocked by the large log infront of us, and the female lion which was practically lying underneath our back bumper. But then after ten minutes I think shed decided the grass was maybe better where she was before, and so she got up and walked right past my door, tail flicking the vehicle, before returning to join her family in the grass.

What a day. What an awesome day.
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