We left Imbali before first morning light; it was chilly out, with a distinct feeling of seasons changing. We were off to Hoyo Hoyo to take some photos. The lodge has had a colour change, and it looks absolutely gorgeous!
This was not meant to be a game drive, which of course I was quite sad about, but as we came around the corner, an enormous male lion appeared in the headlights of the vehicle. He began to roar, loudly and boldly, and I could feel it through my entire body. And then, in the opposite direction, another male roared from further in the bush.
How could we not follow? I had to put the photos on hold for a little while;)
As we followed the dark maned male further into the bush, while on his mission of scent marking and making his presence known, the other male appeared. He was lighter in colour, and they stood there having a stare down.
They did not appear to be coalition partners. The darker maned male, scent marked again, and then rolled around in it, like an oversized house cat. Once he moved off a bit, the other male who was grunting came to inspect. We were hoping to see them engage in a bit of a confrontation.
We were the only vehicle on the sighting at this point, as the other vehicles were not out on game drive yet.
We just sat there, listening to them roar, as it reverberated through the valley, and the mist drifted through the trees, the sun began to rise.
I felt like we were the only human beings on the planet, surrounded by these magnificent lions, and I couldn’t help but be grateful for this incredible privilege and this beautiful moment. The adrenaline was rushing through me, my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking and I had butterflies in my stomach.
It was a good start to the morning.
We continued to follow them, as the bushveld began to lighten, and I realized one of them was the sky bed male’s son, who I’ve seen here before. The other was possibly the male from the Torchwood pride, but this I cannot confirm.
Game drive vehicles began to arrive, and we left them with the males, who were still having a stare down.
At Hoyo Hoyo, we were battling with the light, to get the photos, and I could still hear the lions roaring in the distance, but they were getting nearer and nearer.
I was just arriving at one of the rooms, when I heard a mighty roar, from in front of the lodge! They were here! I was so delighted; I quickly began heading back to the main area to try and spot them, all the while, the guide telling me to slow down, as he needed to escort me if the males were in the camp. I tend to lose my mind a bit when it involves lions;)
I couldn’t see them, as the bush was quite thick, after all the late rain, but it was still a pretty awe-inspiring moment; the mist and the sunlight was filtering through the trees, the lions were talking, and the squirrels and the baboons had a lot to say about this, they were having minor heart failure.
The Camp manager, who was heading to Imbali, then called in a male lion at the entrance to Hoyo, over the radio, but, I had to finish up these photos, and sadly we missed it.
To our knowledge the males never actually ended up fighting, and if they did, none of us got to witness it. But who knows what could happen next, with all of these displays of dominance.
We were finally leaving the lodge, when another guide called on the radio, “I’ve been wanting to say this for a really long time, I am sitting with 3 leopards right now.” …
Never a dull moment, what can I say?
(To be continued)