A Lion-free Safari

01st October 2013
It was impossible to anticipate what the Kalahari was going to give us this time... It was September, still winter and the Park was foreign again, the lack of vegetation calling desperately for rain. As always, the very first evening we set up camp at Rooiputs. Any fear we might have had, and any suspicion that the place was not the same found great encouragement in the sound of the barking geckos and the faint roar of lions. Later, passing through the vast landscape of this beautiful land, we migrated between camps and gradually quit the day to day reality altogether.

Our quest has always been to find the lions, for such encounters brought about immense happiness. We have been permanently dominated by the desire to see and photograph them, and to understand more about their behaviour. And even though we live in Big Five Territory, our trips to the Kalahari bring us closer to this pursuit. Far away from our home town, outside the constraints of pharmacy work and the daily struggle for survival, we are temporarily unconcerned with the future and live in the moment. This September, our dream-like state would have lasted for the duration of the entire trip if it wasn’t for the lack of lions. Try and imagine the Kalahari without them! It felt as if something had gone wrong, and we tried to correct that wrong by searching for signs of their presence and following spoor from dawn to dusk. We could not find them- we were always too late. I have had this fear for years…

Yet there was so much beauty on our way! We soon discovered joy in following, watching and photographing various other species like Springbok, Gemsbok and Wildebeest. Brown Hyenas, Spotted Hyenas, Honey Badgers and especially Blackbacked Jackals - notorious for their antics – have given us some stories to remember, and you are welcome to browse through our gallery and enjoy the recent images we have uploaded.

Last but not least, and still on the topic of photography, I would like to share those interesting words written by Allain de Botton in his book The Art of Travel: “…a dominant impulse when encountering beauty is to hold on to it…taking photographs can assuage the itch for possession sparked by the beauty of a place; our anxiety about losing a precious scene can decline with every click of a shutter…” -those lines echo our thoughts when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. This time around we searched for, found and captured beauty in just about everything, from the majestic flight of raptors at water holes to the little Brandt’s Whistling Rat.

A process of careful selection and then editing of our RAW files will reveal over the next few months the most memorable moments and sightings of our September trip-we would appreciate your thoughts on these images.

Gabriela and Andre


Photo comment By Douglas Bolt: Enjoy your posts on BPN and in your website. My wife and I are planning a safari to Mana Pools and one to Chobe in August with Wild-Eye. I've been fascinated with the Kalahari and may be able to spend an extra 3 or 4 d after the Chobe safari. I would certainly welcome your thoughts on where you would suggest we might spend some time in either Botswana or SA. It will have to be catered. doug bolt

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