In Search of the White Lion
The Singita vehicles held only six people, so before we left camp at 6:30 a.m., our group got split into four Land Rovers. We had been warned that it would be quite cold on our drives, but we all felt warmer – or maybe less cold – than on previous drives. There was a bit of a cloud cover to hold on to the heat – maybe that helped. The warm water bottle and the blankets certainly did.
We had hardly left the Lebombo Lodge before we saw what seemed like an endless stream of quelea. Little known to many of us, this is the most prolific bird in the world – they even outnumber chickens. They flew by us in numbers surely in the 100’s of thousands and sometimes so close that we could feel the movement they made in the air. We saw them on three occasions and were at times certain it was the same birds just flying around us in the circle.
Singita recently posted a picture on Instagram of a white lion, and we were initially sad to hear that it had likely been chased out of the concession by other lions. We continued to look for it for two days, but couldn’t help feel a bit sad that so many people incl. day visitors to Kruger National Park were chasing a glimpse of the poor lion. Some of the rangers were worried that the color of its fur would make it a target for illegal hunting and so, while we were disappointed not seeing it, we also felt good about giving it a bit of rest and focused on something else.
There was plenty more to see. The elephants all seemed very calm compared to Matetsi, and couldn’t be bothered when we stopped to watch them eat or drink. The giraffes were also calm and even the zebras seemed less eager to run away than usual.
The morning drive included a walk on the river bank from where we watched both crocodiles and hippo. Later, we were lucky to stumble across three very well-fed lions and got some great pictures as they started to slowly move across the yellow grass.
Back at camp, most decided to skip breakfast and instead meet for lunch. We were served a legendary tapas-style lunch with eight different types of food and some soon felt like the three lions mentioned earlier… David and Sandy decided to walk it off with a guided bush walk.
The kids stayed behind when it was time for the afternoon game drive. They instead had fun in the pool and later played monopoly. The rest of the group met for sundowners at a beautiful waterhole where the hippos were slowly gathering before making it up on land to feed on the grass during the night.
We got back to camp around 6:30 and listened as one of the rangers, Blaine, who took us through the history of South Africa and some of the neighboring countries. It remains very hard to understand just how much unrest the area has seen over the years, but Blaine remained optimistic for the future of the country. Adrian joined in at the end and talked and entertained us with memories of the country as it had been experienced by him, Penny and their four children.