Back on day one I said I'd let you know whether the long plane trip was worth it… hell yes.
Today we hit the mother lode!
We were at the south gate before it opened and shortly afterwards we saw a group of cars watching what looked like a brown log. It turned out to be a bunch of lions lying about. They were too far away to photograph decently and not moving, so we moved on.
I took a side road, just because it was different than the roads we'd been on so far and a couple of minutes later came across a parked up truck. I eased quietly alongside. OMG there were 2 lions on the road. I could not believe our luck - it totally made my day.
After that we were headed back to the Namutoni gate 140+ km away. For the rest of the journey there were only the usual animals; zebra, springbok, oryx etc although I did spot a hyena.
Oh… and when we stopped for a loo break, a driver (professional) of a game drive vehicle said did you see the elephant? I thought he was having us on but sure enough there was. We didn't bother taking any photos though coz he was camouflaged by trees.
Chatting away as the kilometres rolled past, as you do, no sooner than I said hey we've not seen any giraffe today than 15 min later we saw a large group. We realised they were trying to cross the road and were most likely headed for a small water hole that we knew of. So we passed the rest of the parked up traffic and turned off to the little waterhole. We arrived to find we were the only car there, so I was able to park side on & in prime position when the giraffes arrived. We were happily snapping away when I saw a cloud of dust … OMG OMG look look look 2 elephants were running, well a lumbering sprint, for the waterhole. And suddenly a whole herd was coming in behind them… and they kept on coming. We couldn't believe our eyes. They chased the giraffes off. I mean… they actively went around the water hole and menaced the giraffes away from the water.
It was unbelievable, they were pushing and shoving each other to get to the water. There were juveniles and babies, squealing and grunting at each other. We didn't stop shooting to count numbers but it would have to have been over 40. One large female approached the car stopping just 5 metres away. I was really starting to panic thinking how I was going to get us out of there. But she wasn’t aggressive, just wanted to get between us and her herd. She began showering herself with dust so we sat quietly and just kept shooting and it was all ok. I guess you have to be either an animal person or a photog to understand the emotion of the moment - these are wild animals & so close they could have killed us.
Afterwards I was drenched in sweat, exhilarated and utterly exhausted.
Today's gift... a moment I will never ever forget.