Monday 22nd April 2013
At 4am I wake up with a start.
“Did you hear that?” I ask ‘The Boss’.
“What?”, he asks sleepily.
The familiar, deep and hollow call of a male lion drifts through the bush.
“There it is again!” The boss seems oblivious.
Soon silence descends and I shudder. I look through the window. Ghostly shadows of dappled moonlight add to my nervousness.
“Go back to sleep,” he murmurs and resumes his snoring.
The bush is calling…
I lie awake and wait. Fifteen minutes later, I hear the lion again. If you have not heard the call of a lion before, it’s something to experience. The sound resonates across the landscape and stamps its authority on the world. The ‘King of the jungle’ doesn’t go by that name for nothing. This time, however, the sound is a little different – a distant roar, followed by hollow grunts. I’ve not heard this particular roar before, but then again, I’m not that intimate with lions.
By 4.30am I can’t stay in bed any longer although it’s still really dark. I rise, grab my torch and light the small paraffin lamp next to my bed. It’s time for a warm shower to ease my nerves. Perhaps it’s also the opportunity to venture onto the deck and truly experience the African dawn. I get dressed, grab my torch and venture outside. The Boss is fast asleep.
Our wake-up call is at 5.30 – only half an hour away - and coffee/tea is served at 6am, so the kitchen staff should be busy already. It’s really chilly outside and I zip up my jacket tightly and make my way to the deck.
As I sit outside on the deck, the beauty of the early dawn greets me. A million stars blink down at me. The milky way shines across the sky – it’s crystal clear and magical. The southern cross (a guide to us in the south) lies close to the horizon – another indicator of the impending dawn - and a shooting star paints its silver trail across the sky. I hold my breath in awe.
Besides the stars, it’s still extremely dark but as the minutes tick by, the hue of the rising dawn illuminates recognizable shapes – the tree next to the water hole, the anthill in the field.
The two resident Blacksmith Plovers (Lapwings) suddenly shriek out their own early morning angst - they have eggs to protect. This if followed by the stark calls of two Francolins in the bush.
These birds are very loud and I jump in fright then settle back in amusement. The landscape is waking up fast. The warthogs, too, are starting to move. A domestic squabble breaks out and disturbs the peace for a good minute and the sky is getting lighter as this is all happening. Our lion continues to roar, but he seems to be moving further and further away. I know many other animals are also on the move.
Above: Yellow-billed hornbill checking their reflection in the window.
Next the hornbills wake and coo to the world, then the waxbills and the finches. Impala rams break out in a clash of grunts – it’s rutting season and the fight for dominance over the herd begins early. The bush is alive with sound. I feel so privileged to be experiencing this and can’t wait to see what more the day offers…
There's so much to tell about our early morning game-drive, but this time I think the photos should speak for themselves ...
Above: Early morning beverage by the fireside.
Above: Dwarf Mongoose
Above: Oxpeckers enjoying a feast of ticks.
Many thanks to the incredible trackers and rangers at
Your tracking skills are extra-ordinary!
Sending lotsaluv to all our friends around the world.