The guests on my vehicle were a small but varied group.
One lady has been living in Africa for eleven years and has travelled to many lodges and reserves throughout the region. Her friend of over 30 years was visiting her from their homeland of Switzerland with her 9 year old son.
We had a wonderful few days exploring the wilderness of Marataba, but their last game drive truly trumped them all.
We set out towards the west, where a male lion had been sighted the previous evening and, along with another guide, Josh, who had been in the vicinity for a little while already, found and followed his tracks for about half an hour.
Josh and I were beginning to despair as the tracks had gone off the road into difficult terrain, and we could not follow them any longer.
Just as we were driving out of the area, however, another vehicle called in lions on the South Eastern Plains (quite a distance further north from our position). Having informed my guests and received a positive response, I went straight there.
We first saw an adult male, one adult female and two youngsters. Eventually, the pride turned out to consist of the male, two females and four young, with whom we spent the better part of the next two hours.
Though we shared the sighting with a few vehicles, we had it to ourselves for most of the time.
We observed as the adults slowly settled down for a nap in the shade, while the youngsters repeatedly attempted to make them join their play.
Most of the time, the only response they got was a swish of the tail and a growl to make them back off. We saw the youngsters’ curiosity, their playfulness, and their tenderness towards each other.
We were treated to two hours of pure enjoyment, observing the lions’ behaviour, not worrying about much else in the world.
We listened to one of the cubs attempt to roar. We enjoyed the sight of the youngest cub playing with a warthog head, and defending it with all his might against any sibling or adult got closer than he deemed acceptable.
Other bonuses included the black-backed jackal lurking in the pride’s vicinity, probably waiting to get access to warthog kill scraps, as well as a white rhino that crossed the plains in the background.
As my safari-seasoned guest said, “it doesn’t get any better than this”.
Words by : Helene Mertens
Photos by: Adriaan Mulder