It’s official. The Chobe Pangolin Photo Guides hate me … but I’m ok with that!
Reason being, I was on the Pangolin Voyager houseboat with my brother (Rupert) and cousin (Sam) in mid-January, taking advantage of a gap in the bookings schedule when on the day in question, we were docked at our distant mooring point deep in The Chobe at Serondela.
Opposite this particular mooring point is a sandy “ramp” that gives easy access for the elephants down to the river in the mornings and afternoons to slake their thirst.
That morning, as the darkness lifted, we were delighted to see a pair of male lions standing proudly on the elephant ramp which caused a flurry of activity. They proved difficult to photograph in the shadows. Sadly, we lost sight of them. Instead, we entertained ourselves with a troop of playful baboons.
Our guide Nico suggested we try further down river to see what we could find on the open plains. Soon after, a local fisherman passed by and told Nico that just further ahead were more lions … on the Namibian side of the natural international border, the Chobe River no less. These lions were obviously (and literally) off the reservation and probably hunting cattle. If found, the lions would have certainly been in real trouble.
There sat an adult lioness and her four sub-adult cubs (one male and three females), on the bank of the river in the perfect soft morning light, staring intently across the river at the shores of the national park (their salvation).
Hesitant yet obviously keen to cross, experience has made them wary of what might be lurking under the water’s surface. The lioness snarled at the surface, warning whatever might lurk beneath, that she was not easy prey.
Pacing up and down the bank and weaving through the long grass it was tricky to keep track of this party of five felines. A head popped out closer to the water’s edge … they were definitely going to cross.
We waited patiently at an unimposing angle and distance along the bank. Then, it started. I was surprised how well they swam, in single file, and fired away on my Canon 7D II and 100-400 II at full zoom.
The crossing must have taken all of 90 seconds. For the lions, it must have seemed like an eternity. As soon as they hit the shallow waters of the Botswana side they bulleted up the bank and as far away from the water’s edge as possible.
Hearts pounding in our chests it was nearly all too much to take in. Nico confirmed that in all his years guiding on the river he has never seen anything like it.
And that’s why the Chobe photo guides currently hate me. They spend their lives on the river and I was the lucky bugger who got to see (and photograph!) this amazing, once in a lifetime spectacle.
I hope they get over it … I know I won’t!