There’s little as thrilling as riding in an open Landrover through the bush of Africa looking for lion and elephant.
Get up, clothes on, brush teeth, grab the camera, and off to meet our guide at 5:25. “My name is Africa,” he greets us with an ivory smile and firm handshake. Great, that’s a name I can pronounce and remember.
We are Africa’s only participants on this dawn game drive… nice. Without much ado we’re bouncing down the dirt road in the open air Landrover through the bush. A small herd of Impala and a Brown Snake Eagle are our first stops. Africa tells us why the Impala has a black “M” on its behind and why it has black heels amongst other facts. We learn about several trees, one whose latex is toxic and cause diarrhea and another that is a cure for respiratory and other ailments.
Africa has been a Wildlife Guide for six years and he enjoys it, though pay in Swaziland is not good, better in South Africa and even more so in Botswana. He did some training in Botswana, but most everything he’s learned has been on the job. He knows his stuff.
We find out how passionate he is when we find a lion cub. Driving along slowly looking both ways Africa says, “lion!” and takes off without further warning down the track. I don’t see anything at first, and then I spot the lioness. Africa slows down and comes to a halt about 20 feet in front of three lionesses and a cub.
Africa is delighted, “This is the first time I see cub.” Russ and I are equally enthralled as we watch the cub get cleaned by mom, pushed away by mom and generally do things you might see your kitten do. What a treat! We sit, take photos and video… and simply enjoy.
Then, we hadn’t seen him, but there emerging from behind a bush is the male lion. What a beauty he is… or should I say, how handsome (photo below).
Africa starts the Landrover and all jump and we see the fire in their eyes and are glad there is glass between them and us… not. No windscreen and only roped sides keep us from being dinner. Africa says they think there is glass and believe the ropes to be electrified. Let’s hope they hold that thought. We’re now only a few feet away from the male, who settles down and we do our paparazzi thing and watch.
Then we’re off, still spellbound, in search of elephant. We find an old solitary male and then three younger ones further on our drive. Africa is quite nervous as he cannot see the mother. He spots her and then we take a few more photos before moving on.
What a fabulous experience! Topped off with a choice of beverage and a muffin before it’s time to head back to the camp.