May 2022

A memorable morning


A memorable morning

It has always been a lifelong guiding dream of mine to start a game drive on a winter’s morning with the sun beaming through the mist, as a coalition of male lions roar and move across the land. Everything had to be right, the perfect golden light, the fresh cool winter’s air, the steam of a male lion’s breathe back-lit by the sun as he roars… One can just imagine the picture I had in mind.

Heading out into one of the coldest and yet most misty and incredibly beautiful mornings, myself and two other guides set out to look for any sign of the Plains Camp males who had been heard vocalizing from the northern bank of the river in front of Boulders Lodge, throughout the night, by the night porters. We could hear them from a distance however it was difficult to pinpoint where they were exactly. This is where tracking became a key component in finding these males. The three of us guide and tracker teams spread out to check different areas and at last we managed to narrow it down. Next minute over the radio we heard guide Sipho Sibuye call, “Stations, we have managed to locate the two Plains Camp males, mobile east on Mveve.”

Now this may not mean anything to you, unless you know this area well. However, Mveve is a road which is located on a spectacular high point on the property where the backdrop can only be described as a magnificent vista of views across the reserve for miles in each direction, it is honestly one of the most stunning roads on the property (in my opinion). So with that in mind you can only imagine my excitement in explaining to the guests that the lions had been found, and where they were moving, and how incredible the light was, etc.

We made our way around to see the males with enormous amounts of excitement, only to get there and find them moving straight into a thicket where they were barely visible. That feeling where your heart just sinks is awful. Complete disappointment. The idea of the most amazing sight completely changed within moments.

However, I always tell my guests that, “Patience is the best weapon in our arsenal.” “Something good will come!” So we waited… and waited… and waited. Then when everyone was at the point of leaving the two lions, from the east, a distance away, we all heard another lion vocalizing! Instantly the ears of the two Plains Camp males pricked up.

It was then that the dream sighting started to become a reality. The older, more dominant of the two males got up and began to move in the direction of the other lion roaring with purpose. Through the golden-pierced mist, he began to roar and so too did his brother from behind him. It was beyond magnificent! Two large male lions on the move, announcing their ownership of the land and walking with great strides through the dew-laden grasses.

Eventually we found that the other lions heard the reply of the Plains Camp males and had moved off swiftly, so to end off the morning we continued to follow the males as they strode between herds of impala and wildebeest, roaring continuously, and making sure that their territory was secure.

In the vehicle we were left with adrenaline-exuding-excitement and a loss for words at how truly incredible the entire morning had turned out. And with that, we returned to camp with an absolutely memorable story to tell. (Which I’m sure I will tell many more times to come!)

By Chene Wales-Baillie
Field Guide