Chasing lion in Etosha...
06.12.2007 - 06.12.2007 39 °C
Having fortuitously caught up with my new acquaintance Tim and his family at Okakuejo Camp it soon became evident early in the conversation that Tim and his family were actually non-chalant in their attitude towards spotting lions. Now this just wouldn't do! The problem was that I felt I was actually developing some sort of lion repellant ability. I spent 4 weeks living INSIDE Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, out day and night and not one lion seen! First visit to Namibia with me on board - no lion. Second trip to Namibia, just Rob and Alex - 34 *#@^% lions! Tim and co have seen a HEAP! They see lion 15 minutes after we have been to the same waterhole. They see lion 15 minutes BEFORE we have been to the same waterhole. Hell they've seen so many lions they are getting positively boring!
Undaunted if a bit frustrated we determine to be up prior to the crack of dawn to ensure we get to the park gates as they are about to open. It takes a bit of effort to get a 15 yr old up at 5am but he is as desperate as me to see the tawny devils and we make it to the gate only a few minutes after opening. We head straight to Gemsbokvlakte waterhole where Tim and family assure me the lion have fronted every morning for the last two days. On the spur of the moment we decide to take a differnet route there and take the detour road shortly after the main gate. About halfway there Rob suddenly says, 'What's that up there on the road?'
Grabbing binocs I am suddenly jumping up and down in my seat like a three year old. In seconds we are there and a pride of nine lions are making their way across the road in front of us in single file. They scarcely acknowledge our existence. Just the slightest turn of the head for a second without faltering in a long lazy stride. I am so happy I just soak up the moment and all too soon they are gone and we realise just how lucky we have been to catch them for just a minute. As we continue on, I am happy to state that I don't mind if it turns into a slow animal day - coz I just saw lion! But only a couple of kms up the road in the beautiful dewy morning light a black backed jackal mother supervises her five boisterous little pups. They dart about, falling over sticks and playing with each other and it is definately a first for me. The 'firsts' aren't over yet though as we arrive at Aus waterhole only 30 minutes later to spot two honey badgers gambolling around the waterhole perimiter. This for me is nearly more exciting than the lion. Nocturnal solitary honey badgers are rarely sighted at night when they are active let alone two together in the daylight. This was one of the highlights of our time in Etosha. These sightings (and others to come) reinforced for us the imperitiveness of getting into the park as early as possible to maximum the chance of sightings.