ODP Botswana Overland Safari: Savute Lions

Ben in Savute:

As usual we left very early and shortly found sparring impalas. The action was terrific, with the sun providing back-lighting. We remained with the duo and the onlookers until the pair moved behind some bushes.

We heard that lions had been spotted in the marsh area and we headed that way. There were 8 lions in the pride and they were on the move. We followed them for more than an hour as they moved across the marsh. As they walked, the stragglers became separated from the leaders, and started contact calling, then waited for a response before moving on again. It was ultra special to follow them and to feel part of the activity.

                                                                       Lion Portrait

When they arrived at a water channel the lions stopped. We had great opportunities to photograph them playing and jumping next to the water with its beautiful reflections.

As the sun climbed higher the lions decided that they had had enough for the day, and they flopped down under some bushes that obscured them effectively.

A little further we found two Fish Eagles in a dead Camelthorn Tree. We positioned our vehicles to get both birds in one frame, and when they started calling in unison we were lucky to get those images.

A juvenile Bateleur Eagle was next. He was sitting on a branch about 2 meters from the ground and about 10 meters from us. We were busy with portrait shots when we saw that he was preparing to fly. To our delight he flew directly towards us, and settled on a branch right next to us. He was completely relaxed, and as if on cue, he started to preen, checking every now and then that we were still there.

After coffee we started to head back to camp. On the way we passed a marshy area filled with birds. There were dozens of Red-billed Teals, Spoonbills, Sacred Ibis, and many, many more. We were photographing the birds when a Fish Eagle flew over and scared the birds. They took off and flew directly towards us, then as they passed us they banked, and flew back to the marsh. It was fabulous to see all those birds almost on touching distance as they came past.

We saw the two Fish Eagles that we had photographed together earlier in the morning again. We managed to photograph them in a single frame again as they called together. Wonderful!

Finally we were back at camp for lunch and a siesta …

                                 Lenses at Lodge

After our siesta we started out again to a different marsh to photograph the Black-winged Stilts there. The water was deep blue and as smooth as glass, with perfect reflectance. Two Red-billed Teals arrived, landing right next to our vehicles. Again, the reflections were prefect, and when they started to preen, bathing enthusiastically with droplets flying all around, our cameras were ultra busy.

We decided to check on the lions and returned to the spot where we had last seen them. Two males were up and active and we spent time following them, pulling ahead to get images of them walking towards us, and side-on photos as they passed us. 

As the lions walked closer we had to keep rapidly changing lenses until we ended up with wide-angles when they were really close. Everyone became really proficient at a really quick change, not wanting to miss a moment. One fellow showed us what he thought of our presence.

                                         Lion close-up

Ahh, this is the life! We are seated in the boma, enjoying our pre-dinner drinks before dinner is served in a few minutes. 

Tomorrow? Well, let’s see …