“Never a dull moment” it’s a phrase that’s been used repeatedly by anyone who has dedicated their life to being in the bushveld. Yet still that one line holds so much truth. Almost every month, sometimes more, we receive a big group of about sixteen guests from Titan Travel. They stay at
Mopane Bush Lodge for three nights where they basically have the whole lodge to themselves. During their stay we take them on as many activities as possible. One of the essential activities is the San Rock Art Shelter, where I arrange a private tour on Kaoxa property which unveils the ancient drawings and motifs of the bushman. It is an area where one can experience the atmosphere of this mystic land and feel the aura of the peoples of the past.
Although it’s a ten-minute walk from the vehicle to where the shelter is, it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting ten minutes of walking that you’ll ever experience. Why? Because the Kaoxa area is on the edge of the Mapungubwe National Park, which is a park that is nestled between the borders of three countries, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South African. It is home to most of the big 5 (buffalo and black rhino being the only ones excluded). Being abundant in wildlife, there are elephants converging from all three corners flattening most of the fences around Kaoxa and allows all sorts of animals to enter unrestricted. Thus, during the 10 minute walk to the artwork one will have to be on the lookout for anything ranging from a lion to an elephant without the help of a rifle, just the confidence in your guide to be able to handle any dangerous situation that arises. And this is exactly what the Titan group did.
When we arrived at Kaoxa, I started off with my routine safety briefing, and as per usual there was a mixture of both excitement and nervousness in the air. When we started walking toward the rocks there were signs of the fabled big 5 everywhere, but nothing to be of concern just yet. At a certain point we stopped so I could tell them about the giant red sand stone structures surrounding us like an arena. Suddenly the morning sounds of birds chirping and squirrels scurrying around was pierced by the sound of a mighty roar. A roar so loud that every person standing there knew, before I even had to mouth the word, that this was indeed a lion. Every part of you goes cold, every instinct telling you to run, but as a guide you try to forget your natural instincts and instead remember what you’ve been taught to do.
Getting the groups attention, and looking as calm as possible, I tell them that even though we can hear the lion close by, we won’t be able to see it, so instead of walking into a dangerous situation with them, I suggest we walk back to the vehicle and leave them there safely while I come back to try and get some eyes on the culprit of all this roaring.
But while I’m trying to implement some sense of calm into the group, the baboons that were around the area decided that they’re not having it, and all hell breaks loose. The baboon troop start barking out calls of alarm all around us, and starts running around in hopes of scaring off the predator. Getting the guests attention again we head back to the vehicle where I turn back on my own in search of the intruder.
Satisfied after some time of scouting the area, I decide that the lion must have moved off into a different direction after all the commotion of the baboon troop. Finding the group again, I can feel the heightened sense of excitement as I ask them if they want to continue with the activity, and get quick yes all around.
During the evening as they sit around the fire they talked about their close encounter with natures most feared and respected predator. It’s a story that, I’m sure, will be passed on for many more years to come!
Brigitte, Senior Field Guide