This was our last day at Singita, and so our morning drive needed to be shorter than usual so we could leave to catch our 11:30 FedAir flight. While we flew right into Singita’s own airstrip a few yards from the lodge, it was undergoing repaving when we left and so we had to drive about 40 minutes to another airstrip to catch the flight to Nelspruit Kruger Airport, and then a scheduled South African Airways flight to Cape Town. So Mark arranged to be back by 9:00 to give us time to eat and finish packing.
Hippos relaxing in the Sand River, August, 2017
We really only had one animal sighting on the drive, but it was a doozy. The large lion pride was spotted along the river, and one group was watching them from the close side. Mark and Masa (our tracker) decided to cross to the river (we did see the hippos in the river while crossing) and watch from the other side. This was on a short drive from the lodge, especially as Mark rushed the Land Rover at top speed – maybe 20 mph – on the dirt tracks.
We crossed the river and we’re pulling down a track to a lookout point when some young adult lions ran across right in front of us, bringing us to a stop.
Pretty soon most of the pride had walked up to the track we were on, and were laying about, playing in a tree, or down on the dry river bed ahead of us.
We didn’t expect to see you here, August 2017
We sat for an hour and a half amidst the lions, with them walking around the vehicle close enough to touch, nuzzling and grooming each other and themselves, play fighting, and just sunning themselves.
Cats up a tree, August 2017
One highlight – which Sally and I had never experienced – was hearing the pride start roaring as a group, letting everyone and everything for miles around know they were there and they were strong. I managed to get video clips of this spectacle, which I haven’t been able to review yet.
I am lion, hear me roar, August 2017
Peering thru the leaves, August 2017
Brothers in the Sand, August 2017
Isn’t that what brothers do?, August 2017
Finally it was time to leave. We dashed back across the river to the lodge, where we packed up and ate breakfast in our room. Then a different guide and tracker drove us to our flight. Our luck held during this drive; we saw a leopard by the side of a pond. Unbelievable!
Masa, The Bassman, Sally and Mark
Breakfast in the room, then a 30 minute drive to an airstrip for a 30 minute, 1-stop flight to catch a scheduled flight to Cape Town.
FedAir, August 2017