If I experienced nothing else, Selinda would be a highlight just to re-unite and guide with Dicks Tsima, one of my best friends who I consider my Botswana brother. Here is where nature took over to deliver one of our biggest highlights.
Photo of lioness with storm clouds approaching ©The Wild Source
We began by tracking a pride of lions. As we followed their trail we were very surprised to find signs of buffalo. In the green season buffalo often disappear into the woodlands where they can enjoy puddled water.
For some reason a small herd appeared to have returned to the Selinda plains and we were sure the lions would be very excited as this is their preferred prey. We tracked until we found a lioness. She led us to her sisters and eventually, four were gathered on a little mound. Behind them the sky had turned a daunting steely grey/blue with occasional flashes of lightning creating a stunning contrast with the lush green grasses and tawny coats of the cats. We enjoyed photographing this ever changing palette and anticipating the drama of the buffalo hunt.
Just then, at a distance of 150 yards, a line of buffalo crossed an open grass area on the far side of some trees. The keen eyes of the hunters locked in and the lionesses started to stretch and follow as did we. However, nature had a different plan more powerful and intimidating then this group of hunters.
We made it about 25 yards when the sky opened up with rain coming virtually sideways. We hunkered down with ponchos, hoods up, trying to patiently withstand the rain. Typically rain is quite localized and short lived, however the sky had transformed to a uniform sheet showing the storm in all directions. Within minutes there was booming thunder and crackling lightning on all sides leaving no direction available for escape. With nature’s violence all around us you could just squint out of the corner of your eye to the left and see the lions hunkered down and as humbled as us.
With it becoming dark and the rain no longer sideways it was clear the lions would have to wait to hunt and we had a near two hour drive ahead of us to get back to camp as we had tracked to the far reaches of the concession. A good portion of the ride home was a light show that easily rivaled the Washington D.C. 4th of July fireworks I grew up with. Flash cubes of light and streaks of lightning went in all directions across the sky. Just like the fireworks, there were plenty of oohs and ahs.
About half way home we slowed down to a crawl as we could just make out the silhouette of a couple elephants crossing road ahead of us. Suddenly a bolt of lightning lit up the area, revealing for a brief moment, a full breeding herd of about 20 elephants traveling in a line including a couple very small babies which quickly were cloaked again in darkness. This moment was pure magic!
Ironically, while so many are concerned about avoiding rain on safari this was our one big weather inconvenience yet it was a definitive highlight of the trip. Luckily this group of people embraced the wilderness and power of nature and knew this was a special event which would last inside them. The hot chocolate with Amarula back at camp could not have tasted better.
Other Selinda Camp Highlights:
- Dicks and I tracking a mother leopard and cub; seeing in the dirt how they played together and then being so close on the tracking that we heard the mother make a call to her cub a short distance away
- Seeing the leopard and her six month old cub
- Beautiful herd of roan antelope
- lions feeding
- Bushman walk with Dicks teaching his survival skills
- Lion/buffalo and lightning
- Four wild dogs– unfortunately after our group disbanded and I stayed on for another night
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