Today we have really been struggling to see lions... We got a nice male early morning at Mdonya juu and then nothing at all or hours. Eventually we got another male at serengeti ndogo but this one was in very bad conditions. We saw it already some days ago, it is the one with the broken leg. It is a sad sight, He cannot walk anymore, he tries to hop to shade with three legs, he is only skin and bones, he is not going to make it. We called the rangers, they may put a end to his misery.
In the afternoon was way better, Kahimba called us into a sighting in Mbuyuni, 18 lions of mdonya pride were scattered all over the place. Super good fun.


Mdonya juu

Two lioness and one cub in the first forest, time three second, to our disappointment they walked down the bank, sometimes cats really misbehave... you look for them in every corner and when you find them they disappear in no time... luckily they went laying in the middle of the river bed, on an island of green grass. The light was nice, the green grass shining, the lions lazy as usual.
We went around a bit and enjoyed beautiful elephants as usual plundering acacia kirkii, and in makutano we got a stunning herd of impala that after being spooked by an unknown something, run from the bush to the open plains at full speed... the run one after the other... running and jumping, running and jumping as only impalas can do... lekker
A couple of hours later on the way back we got the same lions again, but now they are eating a freshly killed impala.... maaaaannnnnnn cats really can misbehave... we waited them to do something for an hour this morning and as we turn the back to them they killed the impala... not fair at all.

The big cats amended their misbehaviour in the aftenoon at Mdonya juu, we had 4 females sitting on top of big granite boulders as the sun was lowering... it was such a sightings... such a special and in the same time such a classic... the females kept basking in the fading sun and peering around for a possible dinner. Three cubs suddenly appeared from another set of smaller rocks.. they first sat on the little boulder and then walked all the way close to the female even if at the base of the rocks... it was superb with the last orange light of the day...
The beauty surrounding us was astounding, the lions, the rocks, the sunset... all was magic.... too magic for one heart only...


Pure awesomeness

Was an incredibly difficult morning, the highlight for me was a beautiful Banded Parisoma skulking in the canopy of an acacia tortilis, we also got a cheetah but was very hidden in the shade of a bush and even if we watched it for a good time was not a brilliant sighting.... I am not a great fun of sleeping cats... anyway in all the morning we did not even see lions....
The afternoon though was unreal... we first spotted 7 lioness in Mwayenbe, they were just by the side of the road. We spent time with them and watched every detail of their beautiful bodies... we then went towards ikuka forest were a leopard was spotted in the morning... on the way to the place we saw guineafowls taking off shrieking their loud alarm calls, I watched carefully and the other side of the river I spotted 4 cheetahs... there was no way we could go close so we enjoyed them from far but in the open, they sat for a while and then moved into thick riverine bush..
We drove off and reached the forest but where we were told there was no cat... we are a bit disappointed but we decide to proceed and have a nice drive deeper in the forest.
The sun is slowly getting closer to the horizon, the light on the tree is beautiful and as the sun set and the light started to fade I spotted a leopard on a rain tree... its legs hanging from a main branch. We drive closer and we spent half an hour watching the most beautiful of them all from just below its branch. She is a beauty, she looks very interested in something and eventually she climbs the tree down... maaaan what a grace.... we went around to check and we could not see her so we drove back.... only to find her on another tree just above the road.... It was a bit late but nonetheless we served guests a cold gin and tonic for the most fantastic sundowner.. a drink with lady leopard.
She is pure awesomeness... this afternoon was pure awesomeness.


Brilliant start and brilliant end

Brilliant start of the morning, Evander and Holy with the cubs are waiting for us more or less in the same spot where we left them yesterday, the kudu is gone but they are happily full in the river bed.
The sun is rising and cast a beautiful light on them. Th cubs are more active and eventually even Evander moves and they all come to drink in a small pond few meters from us... as I said.. brilliant start.

We drove less then 2 km to find a nice herd of buffs, they are heading slowly towards breakfast point, we leave them not to block their way and just 400 mtrs further we got part of the kipunji pride, they are laying in a combretum shrubland, quite uncomfortably in the sun. Soon after we arrived they started walking towards the herd... I called Festo in, he is driving guests with Lucy while I am as usual driving Sophie...even if we know this pride hunts mostly by night we are excited... we follow and eventually lions got sight of the buffs.
They look and then one by one they all went down to sleep.. the only problem was that one young male went sleeping 30 centimeters in front of Sophie and a lioness did the same but one meter behind Lucy... we were stuck.
After some times they moved and so we did... they did only go for some shade... having an eye on the buffs was all what they wanted.
We wondered off and found the kipunji males at the bridge and eventually went for lunch but not before enjoying a couple of Tawny eagle sharing a prey, a beautiful giraffe drinking in the river and a bull elephant sandbathing by the side of the road.

In the afternoon the lions were still there, kipunji in the combretum, Evander and co in the river but the buffaloes were much further on from were we left them in the morning... they all went to drink between breakfast point and w7. It was a nice show and when they came out of the river bed to the hills the sun was setting just behind them, backlighting them and all the dust in a magical way. A brilliant end of the day.



Hidden kudu kill

Some lions were still feeding on the 4 buffaloes, some females and some subadult males but the food was almost finished, vultures and jackals feeding from scraps in every corner,a lone hyena walking in circles around the area at a safe distance.
We also had a big elephant bull having the time of his life scratching against umbrella thorns and a different view, from the bridge above the water of an impala herd drinking.

In the afternoon at w7 we spotted Evander crossing the river, the big cut on the upper lips that we noticed the other day is getting better, her face was full of blood from a recent kill, she walked all the way calling the cubs, we lost her in the tall grass and eventually we went to look for the kill. We thought that she would come back there with the cubs... we looked everywhere, every corner, every bush, but we could not find anything. We went back and forth and reduced the area where we thought she could have killed to less then a hundred meters, but still no kill. Buffs suddenly came into the frame, a small herd came to drink and moved towards breakfast point.. we followed and to our surprise there we found another herd drinking.. they joined and moved off.
By the time we headed back to find the kill, Samson, a guide from another camp already spotted Evander coming back with the cubs and she lead him to the kill.
A young kudu female was laying in a ditch just below the steep bank... there was no way we could have seen it without the cat coming back... amazing, how things can be so close and still not visible... and amazing to see the young cubs feeding on the fresh meat.. fresh meat that to all of us looked very tasty.


Absolut Ruaha

The lions were still feeding on the 4 buffaloes carcasses, still a great sighting because three out of four buffs were still with a lot of meat. Was not as spectacular as yesterday but still stunning, not a single hyena is here yet, vultures and jackals still spectators of the show.
Lions and buffaloes is an endless war, so when we spotted 4 lions sleeping close to the old airstrip with a small herd of buffs close by a rush of adrenaline run down my spine, I thought something was meant to happen in the evening but we could not wait all day there so we left but I called Owen in.
Just before these lions a big male cheetah was nicely dozing in the shade of a rain tree close to the ruaha river, it was a bit far but we had clear view.

When we left the lions and the buffs we went to mbagi. Moving towards that direction we were lucky enough to watch a lilac breasted roller swallowing a lizard. later on in the forest we found a young leopard cub, she is the relaxed one that gave us so much so far, she was on a sausage tree and she was gorgeous. She moved on the branch, she changed branch and she kept watching us with her stunning green eyes.
In the afternoon we saw the kwihala pride in the mbagi forest, we spent some time watching elephants at lulenga juu while flocks of doves were going to drink and back and then on the way to camp Festo spotted a beautiful blond male lion in the river bed... but as if was not enough Evander and Holy were waiting us in the sand at w7, Owen called me saying that the lions I told him about killed a buffalo's calf and he managed to roll it and while guests were having our deserved gin and tonic a male lion started roaring close by, invisible in the fading light....
It i not possible to explain a day like this.... Absolut Ruaha.