August 10: Happy Lions of the Kalahari

Tonight’s sunset drive guests wanted to see lions. Only lions. In fact, they even told us to drive by absolutely everything else. They were only here to see lions.

So it was settled. We’d travel far and we’d travel fast to reach a place where lions have been spotted this past week. The guests buzzed (loudly) with excitement (and vodka), telling each other that their guides were taking them to the ‘lion camp’. Not so much. If only the Kalahari really had a ‘lion camp’. But it doesn’t. And the truth is I actually see lions very, very rarely on my game drives. I wasn’t hopeful.

Speeding past some of the Kalahari’s most delightful animals wasn’t easy. I usually make a tremendous effort to ‘convert’ guests (especially the lion fans) to the small and exciting little animals that give this place its charm. But part of a guide’s job is to recognize when people can’t be converted. Tonight we were driving for lions and nothing but lions.

That’s why I was shocked to find lions tonight. It never works out that way.

The first lion started out as an odd looking clump of grass on the ridge to the right of us. It’s a miracle we even stopped to investigate! We watched him slowly make his way down the ridge towards us and the waterhole.

Big lion. Bigger yawn.

Kalahari lions are better than cookies. Fact.

As we moved forward to stay with him, we caught sight of a second, blonder lion much closer on our left! The two big males had noticed each other too and set their courses to intercept.

On his way to see his brother…

What followed was undoubtedly the most fabulous lion encounter i’ve ever witnessed! Even cookies couldn’t have made it better. Upon seeing his brother, the ridge lion broke into an excited gallop and the two eventually crashed into each other. They proceeded to rub and nuzzle one another, before dropping to the ground and doing little dances of happiness. Both looked completely overjoyed and I don’t think i’ve ever seen glee so evident in any animal.

Love.

I don’t know if they last saw each other a year ago or a minute ago, but they were absolutely thrilled to see each other now. They reminded me of my little Jack Russell, Matilda. Every time she sees us, it’s like we’ve been away for years (in my case it’s usually because i’ve actually been away for years). That’s love. And these lions had it too. The whole world should be like that. Love. Love and cookies and lions.

It was an incredibly special sighting and a sweet memory i’ll get to take away from the Kalahari.

Does it get much better than this?

Made sweeter by how short-lived it was. As the brothers were still getting stuck into their super-cute greeting ceremony, the voices behind us demanded to move on. “We want to go now. Take us to see the cheetahs”.

*sigh*

Sunset Drive Sightings:

Lion

And the ones we didn’t stop for…

Cape Fox
Black Backed Jackal
Bat Eared Fox
African Wild Cat
Springhare
Scrubhare
Eland
Gemsbok
Ostrich
Wildebeest
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Kori Bustard
Spotted Eagle Owl
Steenbok

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