December 8, 2014

A long awaited encounter

The students waited a quite while before they had the privilege to view some of our most beautiful game. Jorge tells us more about their encounter:

“We woke up to a cold morning in the bush. It was 4am and after a quick tea and coffee we set off to the central game viewing area at Mashatu. We all snuggled under the blankets in the game drive vehicle and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise. We saw herds of impala, zebra and wildebeest along with a countless number guinea-fowls. Okwa, our instructor, focused his attention on the sightings mentioned over the radio.  Later that morning we parked the vehicle under a big tree and recharged our batteries with some cereal, coffee and tea and continued on our search for some big game.

Finally Okwa got wind of a leopard sighting not far from where we were. We arrived at the spot of the sighting to find two other game drive vehicles that beat us to the leopard. In the tree next to us, we found a stunning young female leopard. She was feeding on African wild cat. Suddenly she came down to get a half-eaten leg that she accidently dropped. It was such an intense moment. We had a leopard feeding right in front of us at barely 4 meters. She looked so relaxed while feeding that she paid almost no attention to us and the other two vehicles. Once she finished feeding she climbed back into the tree. We were so close to the leopard that we could hear her chewing her catch. We left the spot amazed and speechless.

As we left the sighting we got told that they found a lion sighting in another area. We have already been in Mashatu for almost month now, but apart from their roars at night and some tracks we did not have any luck with a lion sighting. Okwa said that he didn't know the area that well and we should not expect anything.

We managed to convince him to give it a try and to go and look for them. Our try was rewarded with a big pride of nine lions resting under a tree. For some of us it was the first time we saw lions in the wild. They were well fed and enjoyed a late morning nap. Some still had some blood from a kill and started grooming themselves. For the second time in less than one hour we were speechless and amazed with the beauty of two of Africa’s big cats. We set off back to camp and on our way back came across two hyenas and two secretary birds.

No doubt that this will be a day to remember. While we were driving back we also learned a very important lesson with regards to guiding: under promise and over deliver. Okwa knew that both the leopard and the lions would be there for a while, still he made us believe the opposite to lower our expectations and keep us thrilled during the entire wonderful day in Central Mashatu.”
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