Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 2 (Afternoon game drive): OUR AFRICAN SAFARI - TANGALA

MAXMOM here...
Day 2 Monday 22nd April 
"Operation Lion"

We’ve been lounging around the lodge all day – enjoying the antics of the warthogs  as well as reading our books. 

During the morning a Belgian couple arrive – Henri and Franca.  We introduce ourselves and feel an immediate connection – they are fun, interesting people who are keen to experience the offerings of Tangala.  As ‘newbies’ on the block their excitement is contagious.

At 3pm the drum-beat begins – a call to ‘tea’ -  and we make our way to the serving area.  The meal is simple - savoury muffins, sausage rolls as well as some fruit to nibble on.  I grab a pear and put it in my backpack – for the game drive. As South African’s would say, “Padkos!” (Road food)  
We settle into our meal and watch the activities around the waterhole.  The hornbills, too, continue to admire their reflections in the kitchen window. Such funny birds! 

We have a different ranger this afternoon – Thomas.  He’s a tall, robust man with a wide smile and an engaging personality.  Just by listening to him, I know that the game drive is going to be fun.  Thomas tells us that it’s ‘Operation Lion’ this afternoon.   Lion tracks have been widely reported and are going to make our way to the most northern part of the reserve. With Tracker Bennet’s help, our chances of seeing them are excellent. The Belgian couple’s excitement is palpable as we climb into the game drive vehicle.

Thomas waste’s no time and presses the accelerator.  There is a long way to go and the roads, at times, are tricky.
On the way we stop to admire a herd of Zebra.

…and an African fish eagle.
A herd of giraffe…
... and a flock of helmeted Guinea fowl. 
I am thrilled that these birds are no longer on the endangered list.  During the 1960's, (Growing up on a farm nearby) a ban was put on shooting these birds. Their numbers have increased steadily over the years - and one often sees them in Johannesburg too.  (It's a 'good news' story)

Finally we move into the area where the last lion tracks were spotted.  Thomas and Bennet go into full tracking mode – watching the bush carefully; stopping to study the grass; listening for unusual sounds and getting off the vehicle at times to check the direction of the tracks.  They are determined to find the lions for us.
(I must admit, I get nervous when trackers get off the vehicle - it is always a risk when lion are wandering around.  However, they reassure me that given the years and years of tracking experience their decisions are safe. In the picture above, the lions were approx 100m away, still unseen)

Soon, Thomas takes the vehicle offroad – through the thicket, clipping off branches at times with his bush clipper.  

“Look there,” Thomas says. 
“There, can’t you see it?  The remains of a kill.  It must be only a few hours old because the hyenas haven’t found it,” he tells us.

We peer over the side of the vehicle and eventually we see what they are talking about – under a small bush:  Only the horns, the hooves, and the  stomach contents of the small wildebeest remain.  They lie strewn on the grass.  The lions have had a good meal.

“They are close,” he says.  “We’ll find them!”  

He shifts the gear lever and moves slowly through the thicket.  We are all on high alert.

Suddenly Bennet gives a hand signal and Thomas turns the vehicle in the direction he is indicating.  He brings the vehicle to a stop and only then do we see them:  four gorgeous, healthy lions - a male accompanied by three lionesses.  They sleep comfortably on the grass in front of us although they are well aware of our presence.

It’s a wonderful sighting.  Thomas and Bennet smile – it's a job well done!  They have found the lions and express great satisfaction at their efforts.  

We watch them for a long time as we pepper Thomas with questions. The male lion is covered in battle scars from defending his territory.  Thomas tells us that there are two prides in the reserve – this one and another down south.  This particular male manages both so he is always on the move. What a privilege it is to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environments. 
Eventually we leave the lions – elated about the sighting.  Thomas drives along and eventually finds a spot to enjoy our sundowners.  

We take leisurely sips of our drinks and absorb the changes in the heavens as the light fades... 

  Soon it will be dark and we’ll make our way back to the camp - to enjoy our dinner and an enticing camp fire.

Once again, many thanks to the rangers, trackers, management and staff of
for an unforgettable experience.

Sending lotsaluv to you, my readers.  I hope you are enjoying sharing. 
Thank you for joining me on this journey.


kks said...

wow! loved the safari posts! a dream vacation for me....

Two French Bulldogs said...

Terrific! It must be nice meeting other people from different areas. Bet you can't take enough pictures
Benny & Lily

Mrs. JP said...

Oh what a beautiful safari ride. Thank you for taking me along. I have only seen those kinds of animals in sanctuaries here in the states. What a treat, and an adrenaline rush I bet, to see a pride of lions like that!
You have taken some stellar pictures, by the way.

How Sam Sees It said...

What a thrill to see a lion in the wild.


My Dog Sam - Ruptured Disk said...

Wow, thanks for taking us along.