Yesterday we ran the first of a two part series, in which we told how the Mhangeni pride had taken down a buffalo.

Having finished the kill, the pride began heading for a nearby waterhole, just as we had hoped.

Following them down there, we were thrilled to see them begin to approach the water one by one:

The first to test the water…

And then there were two…



The lions just kept coming, settling in next to each other one by one.

The male arrives at the scene…

But chose to drink a little further away… Photograph by Kevin Power

We didn’t dare get our hopes up as more and more of the pride approached the water, and the first ones there still weren’t showing signs of drinking their fill. Eventually the stars aligned, as did the pride, and we were treated to the following spectacle:

A photographer’s dream. Unfortunately the remaining three members of the pride and the Majingilane male were drinking a little to the side, but to see 13 lions drinking all in a row was incredible. Photograph by Kevin Power


This photograph captures thirteen members of the pride drinking at once; three other adult females were about five meters over to the left and another five meters or so to the left of them the male drank alone. All seventeen were drinking at once! This photograph was taken by Kevin Power, there were so many lions that my fixed 400mm lens could not fit them all in frame!

The sighting that day had many dimensions to it which made it a complete experience; tracking the lions in the early hours of the morning, the euphoria of finding them on a kill, watching them feeding and then seeing the change of cast as the scavengers moved in. Finally the epic experience of following them as they moved in single file through the bush down to the waterhole, where the above photos pretty much say it all…

Filed under Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Bruce Arnott

Field Guide

Bruce grew up on a plot of farmland in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. He always had a passion for the bush and the outdoors, having been camping and fishing since he was a young boy. He attended school in the Natal midlands after ...

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on What Do 13 Lions Drinking Look Like?

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Joanne Wadsworth

What an incredible sight! I can’t imagine everyone’s thoughts as the line-up continued and continued.The images are excellent also. I had to grin to myself when I thought of the fish story…..where a man brags that he caught a fish “This Big!” as his arm swings out further than belief. When telling the waterhole story to disbelievers, just whip out your photo and give them a big smile!

Bruce Arnott

Thank you Joanne! I’ll make sure I am armed with the photo when I am telling the story!

Callum Evans

And that’s just incredible! To get some many lions in one photo in one drinking line is so lucky!!

Judith Guffey

Missing the thrill of the hunt?🐘🦏🦓🦒

Callum Evans

You have no idea!!! It’s torture!

Bruce Arnott

Callum it was one of those moments that truly humble and inspire you!

Callum Evans

I can imagine!

Marinda Drake

Wow! A fantastic image. You never know when the oppurtunity presents itself for a once in a life time sighting. A wonderful experience.

Bruce Arnott

Thank you Marinda, it was a true privilege!

Karen Taylor

That is an amazing picture!

Bruce Arnott

Thank you Karen, a photographers dream!

Angela Pearson-Bramson

How amazing and fortunate! Nice photograph, too!

Dina Petridis

luckily they didn’t drink from the lodge pool ,as we had with 10 elephants at the little pool of the Vlei lodge.
I sent the picture to James

Christa Blessing

Awesome pictures! Once a group of about 20 lions passed our car one by one crossing open grassland. It was thrilling, same as your pictures of those 13 lions drinking together. It makes me looking forward to another safari, though, of course, it rises expectations to an incredible level.

Bruce Arnott

Christa that must have been an incredible moment having so many pass the vehicle one by one! It raises expectations, and Londolozi is the ultimate place to meet those so make your way over here!

Darlene Knott

A ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for sure! Love these photos and the story. Thanks so much for sharing, Bruce!

Bruce Arnott

Thank you very much Darlene for your appreciation, the moment is etched in my memory!

Dawn Phillips

Absolutely epic!


Wow, this is so spectacular! Well done Kevin Power for having all the patience in the world to capture this amazing photo.

Kim Chiotti

Thank you for this amazing photograph. I am in Toronto, Canada where we are about to get our first snow storm of the winter season. Reading the blog and seeing this magnificent gathering of lions has really warmed my day.

Bruce Arnott

Kim I am so glad to see that we had an influence in brightening your day; it is the bush that does that job for us over here!

Sue Dickinson

What an absolutely amazing event to see! Quite surreal!

Denise Vouri

Awesome photo of the 13 members of the pride. I remember when they left a clearing in Singita, the 16 passed next to our rover one by one , and then four of the youngest stopped to drink from a large puddle, all the while keeping an eye on the rest of their family as they continued to quietly walk off into thick vegetation. It was a sight I’ll never forget.
So, are they moving between the two properties??

Bruce Arnott

Hi Denise! That sounds like a wonderful sighting of this pride. Yes they move a lot and have a large territory, having 16 individuals in the pride they need to eat more and thus need to cover more ground.

Carolyn Whitaker

That is amazing! What a great day for you all.

Jennifer Ridgewell

Amazing – how incredibly lucky to witness this sighting! Loved the appearance of “Big Daddy” to join the harem. The photo has to be a “first” and thanks for sharing.

Ian Hall

A classic photo, I would copyright it and put it with a photographic library

Vivien Jones

Wow what an amazing photo, the chances of seeing thirteen lions drinking in a row has to be one in a million. This has to be a photo enlarged to go on a nice big wall. Just fantastic.

Jeff Rodgers

This is one of the most special images I have ever seen. We have 3 house cats, and for years we have tried to get them to line up for a group photo with no success. Clearly 13 was the lucky number that day.


Wow that picture with the 13 lions looks majestic..Truly beautiful

Wendy Hawkins

Oh Bruce that is just the most beautiful picture I have seen in a long time! I bet you, your tracker & guests were speechless as I would have been – wow what a sight to behold & every wildlife lover spend years waiting for!! 🙂 Thank you

Nicki Ryan

Kevin Power – you have surpassed yourself! Those images are absolutely incredible and what a sight it must have been. Truly fantastic and a ‘once in a lifetime’!

Ian Thomas

Beautiful story, I particularly like the last paragraph. Stunning images by you and Kevin.

Bruce Arnott

Thank you Ian!

Mike Ryan

Nice one Kevin

Susan Farrington

What an exciting sighting! How amazing that they lined up so perfectly to be photographed. Interesting to look at the different expressions on each one and how most are keenly alert as to what might be happening around them, while a few others are relaxing and focused (for the moment, at least) on enjoying the cool drink. In fact, except for the two lions on the end, they almost are expressive in pairs…I’m sure that the balance of that shifted more than a few times in the timespan of the viewing, but a fascinating photo to say the least! …and I love the ‘two tails up’ on the bank 🙂

Jane Thomson

Amazing two part blog Bruce, and an unbelievable picture of the 13 drinking together. But ever so cruel of you to leave us all hanging on overnight to find out!

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