The Ranger wakes you at 5:30, it is still dark but the sun will be up in less than an hour and this is the time to be out as the animals wake to a new day. A quick coffee and rusk (South African biscuit) at the bar and you are off again.
The afternoon drive yesterday was exciting with great sightings of elephants and the two Ross male lions from the Birmingham Pride. This pride currently consists of around 15 females and sub-adults plus the two large males. Hopefully you will get to see the full pride sometime during your stay. As the sun set last night the two male lions, sitting no more than 20 meters from the vehicle, put on quite a show for you as they roared to announce their presence. The sound of an up-close male lion roaring is impressive and you feel that guttural energy. Depending on weather conditions, a lion roar can be heard up to five kilometres away.
What will this morning bring? As the vehicle heads out in the first light of morning, the tracker points out some zebras at the side of the road. These skittish animals soon run away but not before you have had a chance to observe that no two animals have the same markings. Also, they are not black and white, but have brown stripes in the mix as well.
As a Martial Eagle perched on the top of a tree is spotted you realise what a great team your guide and tracker are. The tracker sitting on a jump seat on the bonnet of the vehicle takes in all around them and finds birds and animals that until pointed out, you would not see. Your guide has a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the wildlife in the area and can answer all your questions from identification to mating ritual. Without your guide and tracker, you would get lost, as there are no road signs and you would not see anywhere near the same number of animals or birds.
A big lone bull elephant crosses your path on his way to the waterhole. He is an impressive species with large tusks and your guide thinks he is around 60 years old. It is only when you are out in the bush and an elephant is within 5 meters of you that you realise how big they are.
As the morning progresses your driver stops under a large tree and there above is a leopard. It is a male and he is resting, both eyes closed but he is aware that you are below him. Like all cats, the leopard sleeps most of the day and is normally active in the evening.
The morning has gone so fast but it is time for breakfast and a rest before heading out again in the afternoon.
Ngala – is Shangaan for Lion