Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lions and Ray Bans

Cecil the Lion on his morning patrol

Davidson Camp Safari

We are awakened at 6:30 by a soft “good morning” and a gentle tap on the canvas of our tent. We dress quickly, walk to the open lounge and breakfast area and are soon holding cups of hot coffee and standing close to the large fire, warming our extremities. We focus our binoculars, in the pale morning light and see ostrich, wildebeests and Chacma Baboons drinking at the watering hole, 100 meters away.  Breakfast is an array of cold and hot cereals, toast, muffins and exotic fresh fruit salad and yogurt. By 7:00 A.M. we are sitting in land cruiser with our guide Brian, setting out for the morning game drive. 

Cecil the Lion
The safari vehicles are designed with three graduated tiered rows of seats so we all have unobstructed views. The sides of the vehicle are open, and study roll bars support a canvas roof to shield us from the sun. The morning is cold and biting and we bundle ourselves in the provided wool blankets and canvas ponchos. Our first sighting is a male lion, nonchalantly patrolling the road in front of us and not the least disturbed by our presence. The sun is directly in front, making photography challenging, but I take many backlit photos. The lion is nonplused by our presence and we follow him until he veers into the “ambush grass,” wanders 20 meters away, and lies down to bask in the morning sun. John focus’s his binoculars, leans out of the vehicle slightly, and drops his Ray Ban sunglasses in the dirt below. Brian is less than pleased, since retrieving the glasses with a male lion just 20 meters off is not a healthy practice. He curses softly, drives forward and then backs up, maneuvering the vehicle off the tracks of the road, and positioning it between Cecil the Lion and the fallen Ray Ban’s. With considerable drama, instructing us to keep a close eye on Cecil, Brian slips out of the vehicle and retrieves the sunglasses.  John feels badly about his blunder and is rather subdued for the next hour, until later in the morning, I lean out and my sunglasses fall in the tracks of the road. 

Monkey Business
Tail Gate Morning Tea

Three Elephants
Sable at Watering Hole
We will grow accustom to the camp schedule of an early morning game drive, returning for a late and elaborate brunch around 11:30 A.M; resting until 3:00 P.M. when tea is served and heading out on an afternoon game drive at 3:30 P.M.

On this afternoons safari, we see herds of wildebeests, impala and smaller groups of kudu and eland. I am surprised by the many varieties of antelope and we spot the lone dik dik, steenbok, common waterbuck and Cape buffalo.  Shortly after 5:00 P.M. Brian drives the vehicle out onto a vast open grassy plain with a watering hole in the distance. We all climb out of the vehicle and watch a breeding herd of elephant at the watering hole beyond. Brian sets up a small table in the dusty tracks beside the land cruiser and proceeds to arrange the bar, for our late afternoon, “sundowners.”  We are here for a magical 30 minutes, watching the elephants also drink in the slanted, golden afternoon sunlight until the sun dips behind the trees.   
Elephants at watering hole at sunset
Marty and John - Sunset Hawange National Park
We return to camp after dark and discover that three other families have arrived at Davison camp.  Mary, Tom and their 21 year old son, Michael from the U.S.A;  an extended family from Victoria Falls with a pretty 17 year old daughter, Jade and a family of 4 relocating from Brazil to the U.S.A. They are French and have a pretty 15 year old daughter, Claire.  Things are looking up for John and our evening meal is quite a party with the varied energy of our mixed families. Including our host and hostess and the several guides, over 20 of us share dinner and stories afterwards, as we stand around the fire sipping wine and other libations.  
View of the tent cabins from the dining area
John in front of our luxury tent cabin

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