As well as the advent of the rains, February was also a notable month for some wonderful big cat sightings. There are few African sights as iconic as lions, and their presence around the camp gave us truly memorable moments.
Sometimes in the thrill of the moment it is possible to forget that what for us is a riveting drama, compelling or even sometimes slightly distressing can be very much a life and death struggle for the animals involved. An unsuccessful hunt can have implications for the survival of young lion cubs whereas a misstep by an antelope can mean being the slowest in the herd, and all that that entails. So it was for us the one night that we watched a stand-off between lions and a giraffe at the waterhole. It is not just physicality that determines the outcome of these encounters but also psychology. Giraffe can seem docile but just sometimes, what they possess in altitude can be matched in attitude – which is precisely what you need if you find yourself looking down on a pride of hungry lions. The king of the beasts doesn’t always get his way – sometimes the intended prey can brazen its way out of the situation, and it’s hard not to feel relieved afterwards. Hunts and kills can be incredibly exciting to watch, but they are always tinged by a certain sadness.
Dinner in the bush is a highlight for many guests, and has become a tradition for us here at Ongava. However it is not every day that the crew setting up the tables, chairs and paraffin lanterns are visited by a curious lion pride. The curious cats moved on but not before we had a chance to take some wonderful pictures of the sparkling glassware with lions in the background – wildlife through a different kind of lens.
Somehow we also had time to reflect on a wonderful sighting of a cheetah at our waterhole. Wary of other, larger cats, the cheetah slaked its thirst without lowering its guard, bright pink tongue lapping up the precious water. In such a dry area, animals will take considerable risks to get water and so the recent rainfall has given them more options, allowing them to drink in relative safety.
Our Moroccan-style dinner also proved a big hit with guests – cushions and couscous from the other end of African adding a different culinary dimension to the Ongava experience.
As well as the rains, this month at Ongava Tented Camp we welcomed Louis, Emsie, Anna-mire, Siegbert, Michael and Silas to the team. Sadly this meant that we had to bid farewell to Heinrich and Elizabeth, but the good news was that they have not moved too far away, becoming our new neighbours at Andersson’s.
We look forward to welcoming them back when they come to visit their old stamping grounds – and to welcoming you to Ongava very soon…
"Family style dinners and lunch are excellent, meeting fellow travellers and sharing experiences. We enjoyed that the camp managers joined us for dinner" – Hanna and Peter
"We had a terrific time and exciting stuff, the giraffe-lion at the waterhole the last night" – Linda and Brian
"The dinner announcement in three languages" – Denise and Konrad
"Quality and friendliness of all the staff" – David and Georgina
"Unique atmosphere in the camp" – Carman
Newsletter and photos by: Festus, Louis and Emsie