Green season in the bush is not the ideal time to see the big game, with the grass being tall and the shrubs being in full leaf, there is just so many more places for the animals to hide. Also the water is sitting in puddles or seasonal pans all over the place so, especially in an area like Hwange where the game relies heavily on the solar powered watering holes, the animals don’t have a desperate need to come down to the designated water holes. But in saying this, the bush is always full of surprises and in some areas of Hwange, the creatures on everyone’s bucket list are very visible all year round. We were lucky enough to be able to stay in one of these areas on our recent trip and on a game drive to Ngamo Plains, we had a beautiful sighting of a pride of lions. This area is within the Wilderness Safaris concession so is not available to the general public unless you are staying at their camps, but it is a very happening place all year round. The area is a huge almost treeless area surrounded by teak and acacia forests, and is quite breathtaking, with a huge diversity of bird life as well as hosting herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala almost all year round, which in turn brings the predators.
We had been alerted that this pride had been seen the previous day in the area, so we were scanning the wet grass scape for their light tan forms, but as always are surprisingly difficult to see. We eventually spotted them way off in the distance, and could count 3 females and 7 youngsters of varying ages on a wildebeest kill.
There was not much left of the poor victim, with just the head and skin being squabbled over by the greedy youngsters, while the adults lay nearby with bulging bellies in the grass. Eventually one sub-adult must have won the disagreement, and walked off to a nearby mound to enjoy the remaining tatters.
An adult and 2 cubs got up and began moving off from the pride, making their way purposely towards the treeline in our direction. From last nights storm and torrential rain, the area was full of puddles and they were clearly used to wet feet and plodded their way through. They passed right in front of our vehicle, giving us a lovely close up view of them as they splashed their way towards the thicker bush and trees to our left.
They took a few more paces into the longer grass and disappeared like ghosts, just a flick of the black tail, the follow me sign, showing for a few more moments before they were gone. Whether they sat down just out of sight or whether they carried on, who knows, but it highlighted the fact that although you may be able to see into the bush, the animals are gifted with incredible camouflage and who knows what splendid creature is watching the vehicle from its hiding place just a few meters off the road.
We turned our attention back to the rest of the pride still lounging around in the grass but none looked like they had much else planned for the day, so we moved off to another area of Ngamo to stop for our morning coffee and muffins, very well received after our spot of excitement over the lion pride sighting.