My return to Londolozi after an eight month stretch away from work due to the pandemic just happened to coincide with some absolutely phenomenal game viewing.
Ok, it’s phenomenal all the time but it was particularly good over the last week. Tracker Euce Madonsela and I picked our first guests up and were straight back into the swing of things, happier than ever to be back in the African bush and sharing it with visitors once again.
The couple that joined us were here for a four night stay and were treated to some incredible scenes – some of which were a first for both me and Euce. Our first afternoon we encountered a month old white rhino calf shortly before viewing the bulk of the Mhangeni pride along with their 4 month old cubs. Then on one of the following mornings we were pleasantly surprised to find the Finfoot female just a few meters from the Granite car park and then, as if things couldn’t get any better, that afternoon, we followed behind a pack of 17 wild dogs who successfully caught a young nyala ewe and proceeded to defend their meal from a marauding hyena right next to our vehicle. All of these sightings in themselves could easily have been the topics of their own blogs (and may well be in the next few days) but I rather decided to explain the background to a rather unusual photograph that I captured which has now begun to spread through the web of social media.
On these particular guests’ final night, we as the Londolozi team decided to go the extra mile and set up a slightly more extravagant evening drinks stop to celebrate their visit in light of the exceptional few days that they had experienced. Little did we know, we would in fact have an unexpected guest joining us that evening!
Granite Camp manager Kylie Jones along with colleagues Roxy Burrough and Jemma Brewitt set out ahead of us to set up the drinks and snacks at a beautiful site on the banks of the Sand River. Five minutes before we arrived, Kylie radioed me to notify me that there was a male lion across the river from her. With the river being relatively wide and quite full of vegetation in that area it would put the lion at a safe enough distance to view while still on foot… for now.
I told the guests that a lion had been found and we raced in that direction.
As we arrived, we came around a bend to find Kylie, Roxy and Jemma seated back in the Land Rover in which they had driven there, pointing across a small gully at the lion who was now standing about 50 meters away with a look of curiosity on his face. Euce and I couldn’t believe it! We sat and watched him as he slowly strolled down through the gully and towards us. Fortunately we were all safely seated in a vehicle which allowed us to sit back and enjoy the extremely unusual sight of a lion making his way over towards our table of tasty snacks and ice cold drinks that had been set up just moments earlier!
With a clear interest in what all this unfamiliar paraphernalia was, the lion inspected the table for a few short moments, sniffing cautiously, then decided to carry on moving downstream.
We all sat in the vehicle for a few moments while Euce and I made sure the big cat had continued down his path and, once we were satisfied he had, we all joined each other around the same table and had a toast to yet another amazing few days on safari with an extra special ending.