“After two nights in Jo’burg, we managed a major culture shock, when we sat in a open vehicle watching a pride of lions from a scant 25 yards!” or so the journal entry said. My ‘Family’ had never been to Africa before, bar the Matriarch, and I sat watching the awe and wonder on their fresh faces as they absorbed the presence of the lions. It is a great privilege to take folk on their first ever safari! I never tire of it. The one very large and scarred lioness sat up, yawned prodigiously which evoked a rapid-fire of camera shutters and then stalked over to pee casually just behind our vehicle. Under my seat, in fact. Large eyes all round. This was before we were even halfway to camp!
The afternoon drive produced another treat…..a leopardess with two 3month old cubs! Not only that, but she allowed the cubs to suckle within 30 feet of our vehicle, watchful but at ease with our presence. We watched as she played with the little spotted things, batting them so gently as they ran at her on unsure legs and squinty eyes. They would stalk her white-tipped tail and roll over it hugging it with their front paws, biting at the furry length, until she would snarl quietly and gently bite them with her whiskered jaws agape. Once they took fright at something and bolted for a small slit in the base of an old lead wood tree into which they squirmed and hid for a few moments before peeking out, and seeing their mother relaxed, they reappeared.
Sunset that evening was a first for the Family, and as the last light deepened into burnt reds we packed up and headed back to camp. Dinner was on the verandah, and the frogs (very few at this time due to low winter temperatures) squeaked and chirped in the reed bed along the edge of the lagoon.
Early night, for an early start and a whole new day!