When I visited Amboselli in December, I counted myself fortunate to have spotted a single lion who let us watch him for twenty minutes or so. Secretly, I think my companions and I were slightly disappointed that we didn’t see more lions but were none-the-less pleased to have seen the one cat we did. Life in the Masai Mara; however, is a wee bit different.
Our very first day, on our way to the hotel we (and by we I mean DikDik, our driver) spotted a pair of honeymooning lions curled up in the grass only a few meters from the road. Although we weren’t able to get a very clear or close look at the pair Hubby and I both agreed that it was very cool to have marked off our first “big five” before we had even arrived at the hotel. Little did we know what the next morning had in store for us.
Although not officially tracked or even important, there is no small amount of pride involved in being the first van to spot an elusive animal. On Sunday morning, Hubby and I were fortunate enough count ourselves the day’s winners when DikDik spotted not one, not two, but at least 14 lions lying deep in the grass a short drive from the hotel.
Admittedly, when we first arrived on the scene we thought all we had was a tawny-coloured rock and a lioness. The rock turned out to be a fully-grown lion and the lioness was but one member of his rather large harem. Not only did he appear to have at least four or five ladies waiting on him, but our lion was also daddy to at least eight or nine cubs of varying ages. Every time we inched the van forward we seemed to spot yet another lion. We even spotted one nursing away from the crush of newly arrived safari vans.
Luckily for us, Hubby and I had come prepared with a pair of binoculars and a camera each so that we could both take plenty of photos of the amazing sight. (On a practical note, it was interesting to eventually download the photos and compare the resolution and quality of the two cameras. Needless to say, while my cute pink camera is handy for photos in town, it isn’t really the best camera to take on safari.)
DikDik showed us several other lions during subsequent drives but this small pride was our best leonine find. Not only were first on the scene, we were even close enough to see the large male’s breath on the chilly morning air as he awoke to the sound of our van. Maybe next time we go on safari we’ll catch them in the process of catching their dinner. That’s something to look forward to…