Tuesday, 2 September 2008

29th August 08

Date: 29th August 08
Location: Flatdogs Camp, Zambia
Weather: Very hot with blue skies and sunshine, 38°c
Status: Really desperate to see LIONS!!!

Up at the first sign of light in the sky and without even so much as breakfast in our stomachs, made for the entrance to the park to be there before the heat of the day kicked in, hopefully standing more of chance to spot some predators unlike the day before!

Arrived at the gate 10 minutes before they were due to open, paid our entrance fee and started our tour to the west of the gate. Within the first few minutes we’d been lucky enough to see a hippo running at full speed away from us….quite a sight a the dust flew up from his heavy trotters! A couple of spotted hyenas also headed off into the distance as we arrived, but that was pretty much it! A few elephants, giraffe but still no damn lions to report on! We’d have to wait until our game drive in the afternoon instead.

Spent they day relaxing by the pool, cooking some lunch with our resident monkey clan checking us out again and prepared for our evening drive. Long trousers on, repellent all over and the batteries for the video camera all charged up.

At 4pm we headed over to the reception to meet our driver and spotter and with three Italians headed out into the park once more, optimistic as ever we’d spy the elusive lions!

We drove north east along the river, as we had done the day before and followed the same tracks as before searching out all of the little hideouts where they obviously relaxed in the late afternoon sunshine, but still no lions! The driver then decided he’d drive us some distance to where a buffalo had been killed earlier in the day as he was sure we’d see some there!

After 20 mins of bumpy and dusty driving we arrived in an open area where vultures sat in the trees around and the smell of death was in the air. As we turned around one of the bigger bushes the corpse of the buffalo came into sight, bloated, Riga mortified and still very much intact minus some scratches to its neck area, the smell was one of rotting death.

Around 20 metres away lying on its back totally oblivious to us and the vehicle even though we were 3 metres away, was a male lion sunbathing in the late afternoon sunshine. In the time we were there he didn’t move a muscle….apart from his eyelid….once!

They guide told us that the kill had been made in the early hours of the day but as the pack of some 15 lions had recently eaten they didn’t need this kill immediately and had therefore left one of the males to guard the kill from Hyena’s and other predators.

We moved on a 500m down the track came across a family of lion, two parents and three cubs again all relaxing. We moved alongside them and had a good opportunity to take photos and watch them all interacting. They were most photogenic and even posed on a low tree for shots!

As the sun disappeared the night drew in and the spotter fired up the flashlight which he waved from side to side, far too quickly for us to spot anything but he had no problems finding the creatures of the night and explaining to us what they all were.

As we patrolled the plains around the river a group of prowling lions came into view and we sat and watched as they raced after an impala and made the kill, awesome. The watching vehicles all closed in to watch the group of seven lions rip the thing to pieces, again awesome photos!

But still the one I really wanted to see, the Leopard, remained unspottable and so I have to wait to the next park for another chance!

We headed back to the camp at 8pm and went for a bite to eat at the restaurant before hitting the sack. A great evening.

End of day location: Flatdogs Camp, Zambia
Distance covered: 100kms

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