The week ahead was bound to be a good one as it had gotten off to such a great start…..
FRIDAY: We got a radio call early in the evening to say there was a large male lion, lying on the turn off to our camp (this is only 300 metres away from the main lodge building). Within 5 minutes I had grabbed my camera, locked the office, run up to the workshop and had jumped into a Land Cruiser with Ben. Now we were watching this proud, big male call to his friends. Clicking away like crazy taking more photo’s than I am ever going to use, the lion’s call echoed through every inch of our bodies and suddenly it becomes very apparent to me just how useless we really are in comparison to this big beast. I rolled my window up just a smidgen! As darkness starts to fall, we decided to head back home.
SATURDAY: It was an early wake up call, but it was so worth it as we were going into the National Park and we did not want to waste a moment of the day. Camera in hand, cooler boxes packed with drinks and food, fishing rods and tackle boxes all loaded on board our boat, we were moving down river. Winter is on it’s way now and it’s getting a bit chilly in the evenings and early mornings. We met our vehicle and guide on the banks of the Mighty Zambezi river. Climbing on board our vehicle, we started to make our way towards Chif’s Channel. Chif’s channel breaks away from the Zambezi river, goes inland to later join the Zambezi river once more.
The game drive is my favourite part of the day. I am by no means good at spotting animals though – I tend to drift off into the beauty of the bush. Luckily for me, we have our head guide driving and guiding us and he is phenomenal at spotting – he has us all covered! He slows right down and points to the right and not too far from the road, lying fast asleep in the shade is a lioness. The excitement is just too much….. Is she the lioness with the new cub? Getting a little closer, she slightly opens one eye to check us out and deciding that sleep is far more interesting than us, she closes her eye again. We can now count 3 large lions fast asleep, 2 lionesses and there, under her mother’s legs, we could just make out the shape of the back of a little head and see a bit of a little body. Ensuring we do not encroach on their space, our guide stops and turns the vehicle off. We sit and watch. I’m hoping for some sort of movement – but these very full, lazy lions are not up for entertaining us this morning. We let them be and decide to head towards the channel instead, but we will return later in the afternoon again. Fingers crossed, we might be able to actually see the cub later on.
Delayed for 10 minutes, Ben is itching to get to the channel and find the best spot to do some fishing. My love for the bush and game drives does not even slightly compare to Ben’s love (obsession) of fishing. We stop at several different spots along the channel so that he can ‘survey the water’, before we are given the go ahead to set up and settle in for the rest of the afternoon. The vehicle is off loaded, the rods are rigged up and Ben is moving like the wind towards the water – it’s fishing time!
….. So, I’ll sort out the lunch then….!!!
The hours pass quickly. Quiet, serene and simply beautiful – there is not another person or vehicle in sight. The afternoon sun is hot, but lying on a blanket under the trees (with a very full tummy – I feel like the lions), the breeze is cool and fresh. The husband has chosen well – this place is perfect!
Now the tug of war begins – fishing needs to come to an abrupt end if we are still going to be able to spend sufficient time with the lions, drive back to the boat and get back to camp before it gets dark. I can’t even hide the fact that I am ready to go. Everything is packed up, and I’m sitting in the vehicle waiting (occasionally raising my left arm and maybe a little aggressively tapping my watch when Ben dares to glance over in my direction). After about 20 ‘last casts’, we are heading back towards the lions.
We see a lioness lying on her own and she is a little more alert than when we saw her this morning, but by no means is she awake. We continue round the corner and there are 2 lions, a lioness and a very wide awake and playful cub. The cub (which our guide believes to be about 2 – 3 months old) just wanted to play and he tried so hard to convince the adults to wake up and join in the fun. They weren’t having any of it. She climbed a termite mine and plonked herself right on top and surveyed her surroundings. Close to her, a young bull elephant emerged from the bushes and the little cub looked at her mother as if to warn her about this intruder. But her mother, completely oblivious, kept on sleeping. The lioness who had been lying around the corner, strolled towards the termite mound and came to a grinding holt as she noticed the elephant. At once, all of the lions were wide awake and still. It was like a game of ‘Musical Chairs’ and the music had been switched off. Nobody moved a muscle, but all the animals were hyper aware of one another. The elephant, young, brave and adamant to prove who was bigger, took a few steps forward and gave a loud trumpet. All the lions were on their feet, scurrying out of the way and the little cub took a leap off the termite mound, landing right by her mother’s side. Her mother steering her out of harms way. All eyes fixed on one another – watching, waiting.
Suddenly, it was as if the elephant came to his senses and realised he was grossly out numbered… by lions! and he started reversing out of there, back tracking at a rather fast pace. Just like that, the lions resumed their lazy afternoon snooze and yet again the cub moved from adult to adult trying once more to convince them to play with her.
A gin and tonic in hand and we were once again back on the river and cruising home as the sun was setting behind the Zambezi escarpment. An early night was definitely in order as this Wild One was knackered. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
MONDAY: I drove to town this week to buy the groceries and fuel for the week ahead. It’s a 5 hour drive from camp to town (civilisation). The bright lights of Lusaka! I’m only joking….. The lights are not bright at all – in fact, with power cuts for 6 – 8 hours every day, most of the time there are no lights at all!!! Did I mention that 15 minutes after leaving the lodge I saw another male lion chilling in the shade, near the road side? This was my 8th lion in 4 days! I spent 2 nights in town, 1 of them with my best friend and her precious little baby girl and before I knew it, I was back in camp, unpacking cooler boxes filled with fresh food and ensuring rooms were ready for the next guests arriving in a few days time.
The rest of the week was all about catching up on admin and emails and trying to force my rather stiff body into a few yoga positions – all because I am adamant I can master this thing called cardio – which consists of running around and around… and around the back garden/bush in a big circle, praying nothing eats me! It’s something adrenaline junkies would love… I’m still undecided! My excitement peaked on Friday afternoon when my online shopping from Zara finally reached me and my all the trousers actually fitted, phew! I also enjoyed several hours playing in the kitchen and made a delish Butter Chicken Curry.
And just like that, another week in the bush, is done and dusted!