Day 3 – Goliath Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

6 a.m. Breakfast.

Jean and Stretch are already back out early this morning trying to find the lions that eluded us the morning before. We leave with Shawn, slowly making our way to where Jean and Stretch are looking and stopping at lesser animal sightings or even scraggy trees. 3 of the guests are pretty new to safari and stop at rather minimal sights.

Stretch was hoping to find the lions before we reached him, but no luck. He tells Shawn over the radio to follow his tracks to his vehicle and then track him on foot. Shawn seems unsure about this suggestion but finds the vehicle without much difficulty.

Jean meets us at the vehicle and takes us to where we find Stretch in a tree surveying the grassland for the lions.

Stretch says that the lions have to be in the area. He has Shawn and Jean head off in different directions and we follow Stretch. No lions. The sun is getting higher and hotter. Not much is said. He’s under time pressure as two of the guests have a plane to catch. Finally he is out of time and still no lions. Stretch and Jean leave with the guests. They race to the airstrip just in time to catch their flights.

Meanwhile we take one more pass through the bush with Shawn. Just as we are near the end of our loop back to the car Jim, one of the guests, spots the lions in the distance.

We climb a log and see them running away from us. The distant view though the dense grass isn’t much of a photo, but we’re all happy to have finally found them. Stretch was right. They did have to be here. We had been circling around them all morning.

We have coffee back at the vehicle and drive slowly back to camp. It takes a long time as Shawn is happy to stop for any every request. Lots of minor stops and we don’t get back until after 1PM.

Just before we reach camp we find the pack of dogs sacked out under the trees next to the road.

After tea we head out to wait for the dogs to wake up. When we arrive they are still asleep, the pups in one pile and the adults spread out under a neighboring tree. Two other vehicles are already on the scene. A dog or two raise their heads after a loud crash, but then lowers them again.

After a while one of the pups gets, up walks, stretches, poops and then flops back down again. Another takes his turn following the same routine.

Then all of a sudden they are all up in a frenzy of greetings, almost a chirp, biting and playing and as fast as it started it ends and they are all down again motionless.

Awhile later they are up again and repeat the same greeting ritual albeit with less enthusiasm.

Soon they make their way between the vehicles, now a half a dozen or so, down the road to start the evening hunt, the puppies in a cluster at the back. We follow them as best we can but they quickly spread out to confuse their prey and disappear into the forest. One or two can still be seen running past in the distance.

It’s getting dark too late for sundowners and we head back to camp.

September 8, 2016

For links to all the posts in this series see the Botswana/Zimbabwe page.