Lion sightings at the Kruger National Park are as rare as they are majestic and a recent safari party visiting the area got the surprise of their lives when one of the park’s lions decided to join their sunset picnic.
Taking to his blog to document the experience, Londolozi safari guide Chris Taylor recalled the events of that day, which just so happened to be his first time back at work after an eight-month hiatus due to the Covid-pandemic.
Taylor skilfully told the story of an experience with his guests from the UK who had come to South Africa for a four-night stay.
“On these particular guests’ final night, we as the Londolozi team decided to go the extra mile and set up a slightly more extravagant evening drinks stop to celebrate their visit in light of the exceptional few days that they had experienced. Little did we know, we would in fact have an unexpected guest joining us that evening!”
On his way to what he describes as a beautiful site on the banks of the Sand River, Taylor recalls getting a heads up from a colleague confirming the sighting of a male lion across the river.
“With the river being relatively wide and quite full of vegetation in that area it would put the lion at a safe enough distance to view while still on foot… for now. I told the guests that a lion had been found and we raced in that direction.”
“As we arrived, we came around a bend to find Kylie, Roxy and Jemma seated back in the Land Rover in which they had driven there, pointing across a small gully at the lion who was now standing about 50 meters away with a look of curiosity on his face.
“Euce and I couldn’t believe it! We sat and watched him as he slowly strolled down through the gully and towards us. Fortunately, we were all safely seated in a vehicle which allowed us to sit back and enjoy the extremely unusual sight of a lion making his way over towards our table of tasty snacks and ice-cold drinks that had been set up just moments earlier!”
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As their dinner guest briefly inspected their table setting, Taylor was able to capture the incredible sight on his camera.
It wasn’t long before the lion moved along and the group sat safely in the vehicle waiting for tracker Euce Madonsela’s confirmation that it was safe to disembark and enjoy their picnic.
Speaking to Daily Mail about the incident, Taylor said: “To have one visit a drink stop in such close proximity is very unusual. I have had other animals wander past, but normally at a much greater distance.”