Jeffery and Joel are in their element and this is where the magic happens, with a lift of the hand from Joel the vehicle slows and he is off the jeep in an instant studying the road ahead - he says it’s his morning newspaper telling him exactly what happened during the night. He invites us to get down and shows us the tracks he has been studying, several sets of huge paw prints. “We are on the trail of the noisy neighbours” he states. After a brief conversation in Shangaan between tracker and guide we set off in pursuit once again, every so often briefly stopping to check the direction of the tracks. We were soon informed that it appeared the lions had been hunting and the tracks are fresh. We all crossed our fingers in the hope we might get to see them feeding! But the lions don’t like to make it easy and they seemed to have been playing tricks, with lots of doubling back and changes of direction. After circling round one particular area, and having seen tracks going in but none coming out, our guide was determined we were close on their heels and they were not too far into the bush. However, looking at this dense wall of foliage our hopes of finding our quarry fell. Undeterred, Joel jumped off the front of the vehicle and to all of our amazement started walking off into the bush. With some reassurance from Jeffery that Joel knew exactly what he was doing our heart rates began to settle a little.
A short while later and to much relief, Joel re-emerged from the bush with the widest of smiles on his face - he had found them! We now needed to get through the aforementioned wall of foliage. Jeffery explained that we would be going off road so we should keep an eye out for overhanging branches. He also explained that he would be looking for a route through which would limit the damage to the vegetation. Excitement levels were now palpable and after some skilled driving (and ducking and diving from us) we emerged out into a small clearing and there in front of us was a whole pride of lions busy vying for their share of the night’s bounty, which in this case was a fully grown male giraffe. Lost for words we all sat there in stunned silence each with an ear-to-ear grin on our faces, including Jeffery and Joel. Everyone’s cameras were working hard to capture the impressive scene in front of us, and after giving us some time to take it all in Jeffery began explaining the lives of these big cats.
After what seemed like mere minutes - in actual fact, it was almost an hour - the lions having gorged themselves to maximum capacity, decided it was time to find a shady spot to start digesting their gourmet meal. All the excitement and anticipation had also made us quite hungry and Jeffery suggested it was time for our morning coffee break. We all jumped at the idea! We stopped beside a river underneath a stunning canopy of sycamore fig trees and within moments there was a table, complete with white tablecloth, setup with an array of tea, coffee and hot chocolate to choose from and some lovely homemade muffins to satisfy our grumbling stomachs. We enjoyed our hot drinks and basked in the warming sun, finally pushing the last chill from our bones.
On our way back to the lodge we were greeted with plentiful sights of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and the odd warthog dashing through the undergrowth with their tail held high like a radio antenna. As we pulled up to the lodge we were greeted with warm refreshing facecloths and our own opportunity to gorge ourselves on a scrumptious breakfast.