The final of this wonderful safari came very quickly and not wanting to miss a moment, the whole ODP group was on the vehicles, ready for departure in the dark early morning.
Not far from the camp, seven lionesses were gamboling in the fresh morning air. Playing, stalking and leaping on each other, rolling over each other, and thoroughly enjoying family fun time while cameras caught their wonderful interactions.
A sudden quietness as all seven stopped, and listening intently, looked toward the west and sniffed the air. In the quiet distance the unmistakable sounds of the large buffalo herd starting to waken and move around could be heard.
Sensing the buffalo herd, the lionesses started walking purposefully in that direction.
Seven lions? Suddenly, after a hundred meters or so there were 10. Three more lionesses joined the group, followed soon after by an enormous male.
Together the eleven marched resolutely toward the buffalo.
What a beautiful sight and what amazing photographic opportunities! The cats walked in single file – through the long grass, through the short grass, wading through rivers and paddling through streams in a long line, snaking through and past any obstacles.
Intermittently they would stop and play.
A long game erupted when a lioness grabbed a chunk of wood and ran off with it, pursued by the others. Wrestling the wood from her, a second lion took off with her prize, only to lose it moments later to another. She in turn was beset by the others, and one could almost imagine them laughing as they later collapsed together for a few moments of rest after the fun and exertion.
Then, remembering the buffalo, they started off again.
Single file again, creating beautiful pictures as they continued to splash through the water, plod sedately through the grass, walking undeterred and all the time getting closer and closer to the buffalo.
The ODP group had wonderful opportunities to capture this all as the vehicles continually maneuvered to the best photographic vantage points.
The next short stop was for some play fighting, mutual grooming, and a rest, possibly to gather energy for the forthcoming encounter …
As the lions arrived within meters of the buffalo, the ODP group realised that time had caught up with them.
They would really have to rush back to camp to be in time for the connecting flight home. Although this was a pity, no-one was disappointed – their memory cards were already filled with so many extraordinary photographs and fabulous memories of a eventful safari. Each person vowed to return …