Lion Sands – January 2006

This trip included a stay at Lion Sands for 5 nights followed by a stay at Dulini in the Western Block for another 5 nights.

Ranger: Deana; Tracker: BB

16 January – Evening Drive

We started with a woodland’s kingfisher and stopped to appreciate its call. We then found some giant plated lizards sunning themselves on some rocks. We were then spoiled with a number of different sightings: rhino, a large impala herd with many youngsters (just the right time of year for them, although many have made a good meal for the predators too by this time!) and a leopard walking along the road. It was a mother leopard, but her cubs were nowhere to be seen at this point. We also spent some time with a pride of lions.

17 January – Morning Drive

We found a pride of lions lying among the bushes and spent some time with them. We also saw a young male nyala – he had horns but was closer to the females in colouring as he was not yet in his full adult colouring. We saw the woodland’s kingfisher again. 

Once back at camp and we had had breakfast, we decided to spend some time at the pool. We saw crowned hornbills flying over. There was a group of 6 Brits at the pool with us. They were all travelling together and were all keen birders, so they were thrilled with the sighting. We also saw a snake, noticed by one of the woman first. The snake was moving through the decking boards and we all put our feet up onto the loungers as a precaution. Even once we had all agreed that we thought it was a variegated bush snake and not a boomslang, it was difficult to not to continue to keep our feet out of reach! Later, while we were swimming, we watched a hippo climbing out of the river – luckily on the bank on the other side of the river.

17 January – Evening Drive

We started the drive with giraffe. We followed this up with a leopard in a tree with a kill. The male cub was lying on a branch lower down in the same tree. We eventually found the female cub close by in the grass. This was the same mother we had seen the day before, but this time her cubs were present too.

18 January – Morning Drive

Our first sighting was of a pride of lions relaxing – as only lions can do! We then made our way in carefully to see some rhino. The “carefully” was a result of the rains and some muddy terrain. We had missed the rhino – a mother and calf – having a mud bath, but we saw them scratching the mud off against some branches and fallen trees. The calf also picked up a stick, almost as though he was saying “Mom, please can we play fetch”! As we moved out from the sighting we did the unmentionable – we got stuck! Another vehicle had to come in and pull us out. Deana took a lot of teasing from the guys for this. The rest of the drive netted a male nyala, a Swainson’s francolin in a tree, an impala mom grooming her calf and white-faced ducks on a dam. On our way back to camp we found the lion pride again. They were holed up in a thicket and dead to the world!

18 January – Evening Drive

Again our first sighting on the evening drive was giraffe. We followed this with the pride of lions on the move. Two males were walking far behind the rest of the pride so we followed at their pace. They would lie down in the road and rest and then force themselves to get up (very reluctantly it seemed) to follow the pride again. At one point we were slightly in front of them and they walked within about a metre of BB sitting in the tracker’s seat. He didn’t even flinch – and they were big, full grown male lions!

19 January – Morning Drive

We had a wonderful viewing of some green pigeons. We then came across a variegated bush snake in a tree and parked to have a good look at it. BB was petrified. He kept asking us to go. We weren’t even that close to the tree or the snake and he was certainly in no danger. This from the same man who was almost sniffed by the big male lions the night before! We then saw an elephant. On our way back to camp we stopped to admire and photograph the elegant lilies.

19 January – Evening Drive

This was a very quiet drive. Our only notable sighting was of rhino.

20 January – Morning Drive

We started the morning with a fish eagle and followed this with some female kudus. The leopard mother was alone again, walking down a road. We followed for a short while. After seeing some giraffe, we came across the lion pride in an opening with a few bushes. We spent some time with them. On our way back we saw the leopard mother again, but this time she had both cubs with her. She appeared to see something and moved away from the cubs going down into a leopard crawl hunting position. She managed to move forward for a way unseen but then the young male became impatient and wanted to help, scaring off the prey in the process. He then rolled over his mother and lay against her, almost as if apologising for his mistake!

20 January – Evening Drive

The drive started with a sighting of a male kudu. This was followed by a fish eagle and some impala with young. We then came across the lion pride sleeping across the road. They barely opened their eyes to acknowledge our presence! 

Other sightings: rhino

21 January – Morning Drive

This was a really quiet drive and except for some birds we had no notable sightings.

On our way out of camp, as we made our way north to Dulini, we saw 2 African hawk eagles.