“The lions walked through camp this morning,” says Junior, who picked us up from the airstrip, almost casually while steering the game viewer over dirt roads and through tall hippo grass on the short drive to Kanana camp.
“Whaaaat?,” I reply, unable to control the excitement in my voice. I have been in and out of Africa a lot over the last few years and had my fair share of lion sightings. However, lions in camp is clearly something that doesn’t happen every day on safari.
“Are they still there?”, I ask Junior and he confirms. Yes, a male and a female are hanging around in close vicinity of camp.
It happens only a few minutes when we spot a handsome lion with an impressive blonde mane blocking the road. Personally, I’m not only amazed by his beauty, but more so by his overall size. Training as a guide in South Africa, I know lions to be a lot smaller.
But this beast is at least 20% bigger in size than the average male I know from Botswanas neighbouring country. It is said that this is due to the fact that the lions of the Okavango Delta have to cross water quite frequently and have therefore developed a lot more muscles and are overall a lot stockier than other lions.
I am impressed. Ten minutes on Kanana grounds and we’ve already seen what so many safari guests are hoping to see when coming to Botswana.
Junior steers the vehicle offroad and past the lion (he wouldn’t have moved for anything in the world right now…) and around a corner where – can you believe it – we spot our next lion! This time a beautiful female on a mission to get to the male.
“They might start mating soon,” says Junior.
Driving into camp, we are welcomed with a dancing and singing crowd. All the staff members have gathered to greet us the Botswana way. Walking along the pathways made of dried elephant dung (incredibly comfortable to walk on!) , we are shown to our room located under tall trees and with a lovely view onto the waters of the Delta.
After a quick cat-nap and a bite to eat, we meet our guide for the next few days: Doctor.
“Why is your name Doctor?”, we ask upon meeting him. But he just smiles cheekily and replies that it’s a secret. What’s no secret is that Doctor really knows the Delta. After guiding for almost twenty years, he knows his way around the bush, sharing interesting facts with us and always working hard to position the vehicle for us so we can take the best photos.
Doctor doesn’t get far on our first afternoon drive together: Junior was to be proved right: The lions are busy mating right outside the camp! What a lucky sight!
I am blown away by the beauty of the place. Lush green grasses and bushes wind around termite mounds and tall trees, nourished by the large amount of water in the area. Over the next two days, Doc shows us everything the concession has on offer: By car, by boat and by Mokorro!
On every drive, we bump into the lions again – alongside a cheeky elephant bull, herds of buffalo and more elephants, lechwe-antelope AND we even spot a Sitatunga one afternoon from the boat! An absolute first for us! We have been trying to see one for a very long time and up until this moment we thought they were just a myth.
On our last morning at Kanana, Doc tracks down another male lion for us and impresses us with his great foresight of predicting where the animal is gonna go next, so we got some stunning close-up shots of this handsome male as well. Chasing lions all morning definitely makes you hungry – and just as my stomach starts making awkward noises and I start to wonder why we’ re still not back in camp for a hearty brunch, we drive around a corner and find a lovely bush breakfast set up for us and all the guests of the camp
A truly great finish to a great stay! What really makes this little paradise on earth so special is not just the beautiful scenery, the wildlife and all the diverse activities you can indulge in during your stay – all that is great of course, but what really makes the place a destination is the people that work there, always greet you with a big smile and go out of their way to make your stay as unforgettable as possible. We could not have asked for more… except one thing, maybe: Why is Doctor called Doctor…? I’m glad to report we did find out just before we boarded our plane back to civilisation. If you would like to find out… well, I guess you just have to come to beautiful Kanana and ask him yourself!
Thanks, Kanana camp for having us! We had the best of times.
Blog Story and images by Gesa Neitzel