1st August – Mpaya #1
Excited at the prospect of lions nearby we wake up early and set off the scout the surroundings. After some time we hit the jackpot – the lion pride is lazing on the road around the Mpaya Pan! We both surprise each other – the lions are in a section of road with thick bushes on both sides. We actually end up extremely close and the (big) cubs get quite curious about us. I am too close to take proper photos with the current 300mm lens and at the same time did not want to waste precious moments setting up the other lens which was in a bag in the back seat (silly me). So I end up with a lot of very closeup photos, with ears and chins sacrificed. There are quite a few hairy moments too when the lions get very close and sniff the car while I have the window open. The biggest problem is that I just cannot stifle the giggles when this happens. After a few minutes the pride moves on into the bushes far away from the road. We give up on seeing them again and continue with our game drive with nothing special to report about.
We have a little problem at hand … we do not have a booking for Mpaya for this night, instead we have one for Khiding. We obviously want to stay close to the action, so we plan to remain at the campsite till the rightful owner arrives and then we would leave, secretly hoping the owners won’t show up. These campsites are so cheap there must be frequent no-shows. We prepare some peri peri wraps and my heart sinks when two cars pull up in camp. They come over to talk to us and I am so relieved that they just came here to use the shower.
We set out for the afternoon gamedrive where we meet up with a Dutch couple at the Mpaya waterhole. We had already spoken to them before and they are also eager to spend the night at the Mpaya campsite. So we join up to cross our fingers that no one will show up today. Meanwhile a jackal and a Brown Hyena come to the waterhole for a drink, quite close. The Brown Hyena also chooses to run and kick up some dust in some perfect golden light.
The tension is rising when we approach the campsite. Did someone arrive at the last moment? Happily not! And this is probably the single biggest stroke of luck we have ever had. After sunset the brown hyena visits the shower again in what seems like a daily patrol. We settle to do some chores and have a chat. Lions start roaring in the distance … or so they want us to believe! We are still out talking when a strange noise comes from the shower. The brown hyena is probably back. We shine our flashlight in that direction and we see lions nonchalantly drinking from our shower! A moment of shuffling around ensues – we girls jump into the closest car – thankfully ours so I have my camera there and the guys jump on top of the car as the back of our car is full of stuff. We soon notice more lions coming in till there are 6 of them all drinking and jostling for position to the best spots in and around the shower. At one point 5 lions fit into the one tiny shower!
During one point of a lull of activity we all settle into our tents but we get very little sleep, not that we felt like complaining about it. At some point two young males arrive and start to playfighting around camp, very close to us. They also take a liking to our tablecloth which they proceed to borrow and then return in the form of spaghetti. What an exciting night!