by John and Jenny Brebner
(24 January 2016)
Things like this don’t usually happen to people like us but……
Having unexpectedly won a night for two at Somalisa, we decided to take up our prize after a week’s waterfowl counting in the park. We were quite unprepared, however, for the sumptuous luxury of our accommodation in the family unit number 10 at Somalisa Acacia. Arriving at midday, we were very warmly welcomed by our host, Dorphas, along with friendly greetings and hand shakes from the rest of the staff. During lunch out on the deck, a large elephant bull popped into the elephant bar next to the pool for a languid drink as well as a good cooling off, spraying great plumes of water all over himself. After the obligatory rest period, we met again in the lounge for tea and delicious lemon drizzle cake, while Mike, our guide discussed our afternoon activity. Although it was still quite hot, we set off at four o’clock and headed on down to Ngweshla slowly, as Mike had foreknowledge of a pride of lion there. The lion and Mike certainly didn’t disappoint as there they were, lying in the shade of an enormous ebony, like pools of honey, some with creamy bellies up and giant paws flopped in the air! There were three young males with scruffy manes and three lionesses. Mike also showed us a young male that had found a baby elephant carcass a little distance away, quite deep in the bush. He’d obviously decided to keep his find to himself and was resting up near the remains of the carcass. Having watched for some time and deciding that the pride was not going to move, we drove to the opposite side of the vlei to have our sundowners, disturbing a marauding band of banded mongooses out on their evening forage, as well as watching a fairly large herd of elephants with small babies hurry down to the pan to drink. Zebra, waterbuck and impala were grazing quite contentedly on our side of the vlei. The rain clouds were gathering and rain had started to fall when we noticed several eland had emerged from the bush on the far side, and our lion pride had decided to have a closer look. However, having sauntered away from their shady spot, they plonked down again on an anthill to continue observing. We were treated to one of Africa’s most spectacular sunsets, thanks to the gathering storm.
After a welcome shower, we met up for dinner which was another delicious affair of warm carrot soup, a generous sirloin steak with veggies and ending with yummy sticky date pudding with cream. As we had had a long day, we didn’t linger much after dinner was done. Before retiring, we watched a small elephant herd coming down to drink and could make out one or two other large pachyderms come by. There were a couple of noisy trumpets which startled us but things soon settled down as one by one, the elephant departed once again. Hyena called during the night, we heard a white faced owl hooting and in the early hours, we could hear lion calling.
Because we’d been so lucky with the lion pride, we decided against a lie in the following morning and Mike arranged to take us off to Ngweshla again. So after a five o’clock wake up call, we met for a quick cup of coffee and although a continental breakfast was laid on, we just could NOT eat anything at that time of the morning! We set off at six, first driving along the ridge looking for spoor of the lion that had been calling and pausing to look at a side striped jackal dashing off in front of Somalisa camp. Once at Ngweshla, we hunted around for our lion, finding one of the large lionesses lying atop an anthill and as we drew closer, we had a breathtaking view of the other five emerging out of the green bush before plonking themselves down on an anthill just metres away from our vehicle. All six of them looked very hungry but didn’t take any notice of us. With time running out and no action, we drove on and came across five bat eared foxes, two of which had emerged from what looked like a den as we could see the flickering ears of another one. A lone wildebeest – the only one we saw the entire time we were in the park – was plodding along with zebra, waterbuck and impala grazing away. On our way back to camp, we stopped at Chris’s pan for coffee and muffins, seeing a beautiful African hawk eagle at close quarters and here again, zebra and impala were grazing quite contentedly close by. With time running out, we just had time for a quick shower before a late breakfast – more eating! – and before departing the lovely venue, Dorphas handed over a couple of packed lunches along with the two Safari companion water bottles we had been using during our drives.
It just remains for us to say – thank you SO much, African Bush Camps (Somalisa Acacia in particular) for an absolutely astounding stay and a very generous prize. We thoroughly enjoyed all of it and were blown away at the luxury out “ in the bush”!
John and Jenny Brebner