During yesterday's evening game drive, we had seen two male lions which was exciting, but they were sound asleep having substantially filled up their tummies. At dinner back at the lodge, Voster our guide, said, "Let's make a plan. Instead of leaving at 6:00 AM for the next day's drive, let's leave at 5:30 and maybe spot the lions more active." Also, since the private game reserves have a two vehicle per sighting rule, this plan might allow us to get to the sighting quickly without waiting in a queue.
Note - This is important to remember as national parks such as Kruger (which Sabi Sabi abuts) do not have this rule, so vehicle after vehicle arrive at a sighting. A bush traffic jam.
We all had to agree on the plan because Voster could not change the time without all of us wanting to leave early. Unfortunately, one man said, "No way!" leaving us to the original departure time.
So we were a little less optimistic as we set out because the earlier you go, the better, and we were leaving later. We did spot some rhinos and an impressive eagle, but everyone's mind was on the lions as this was our last chance to view them before we all scattered in different directions upon departure.
Finally, Voster said there had been a fresh kill, and the pride had been spotted, so we could go have a look. When we rounded the corner (after going up and down the sand hills like a bush roller coaster), we spied a group of moms and their cubs. However, they were sprawled under a tree fast asleep like stuffed animals upon a child's bed.
Suddenly, a lone vulture appeared, and one of the females stirred. Others soon followed. The message was clear: their larder was threatened and nap time would have to wait. As the females stood, many cubs also jumped up and began to frolic. It was a sight to behold. One cub was only a month old, while the others were at different ages under a year.
A bit later, one mama led the cubs into the woods, and Voster said that she may be worried about males coming. They will kill cubs that are not their own, forcing the female into estrous so that they can mate.
But back out onto the open plains they soon came, brothers and sisters running and playing. The youngest hopped on a reclining female for some cuddling. Once received, the little one then tried to race through a bush. He got stuck and his plaintive cries filled the air. A female came to his rescue, and we thought she would pick him up by the scruff of his neck to extricate him. This motion was performed several times but the little one had no time for such a rescue and soon got free on his own. Male pride even at one month old!
We repositioned so we could actually see the fresh water buffalo kill. Two moms decided to have a snack which was quickly investigated by an older cub. All too soon (even though we had been viewing for over thirty minutes), it was time for us to allow another vehicle to move into our spot, and we headed back to the lodge and breakfast.
The safari sights we saw were incredible at each lodge, but I think Sabi Sabi was able to provide better close-up viewing. (We were so close, I did not need binoculars.) Voster said the animals were accustomed to the presence of vehicles with seated viewers from a very young age (as with the one month old cub), so they completely ignored us, and I never felt threatened.