Located 45km inland from the Zambezi River, Chitake Springs is home to a vast number of animals and hunting grounds for a large population of lions and other predators like leopard. We pulled off onto a nearly invisible bush trail and drove deep into the Zambezi Valley river basin. This is true Africa at its wildest. Raw bush land. And it's at the peak of dry season—prime hunting season for lion.
We carefully planned our camp under a mature fig tree, placing our tents, trucks, and fire strategically in a circle with no gaps to deter unwanted predators. Our way of warning the wild that it was not fully welcome in this camp.
As the sun began to set, the lion gave warning that they were near. Nothing but a thin layer of tent canvas separated us from the king of all beats. Fifty meters away and the cacophonous roar of the lion shook us to our core. Silence. Then, a guttural scream from its prey, a battle ensued. All of this we listened to from the small safety of our campfire. (Click here to listen to audio from lions outside of our camp).
The first night in Chitake was memorable. After sourcing shower water from the heavily, animal-trodden spring, we showered quickly as the sun set. After a steak dinner (wise choice to have hearty steak and sadza in the midst of multiple pride of lion), we turned in for the night. As we lay our heads, a wind storm overtook our camp. Everything shook and for a moment we forgot the wild game surrounding us in the middle of the bush. We listened as the wind took apart the loose items in our camp.
At dawn, we went on a game walk and discovered two male lion sitting side by side watching the sun rise. Basking in the cool of the day, they proudly sat on their front legs not far from the large buffalo they had managed to bring down during nightfall. The lion had won the battle we heard taking place in the shadow of darkness the previous night.
Throughout the day, we tracked the pride and discovered 3 lioness and 6 cubs in the shade of a thicket during the noonday sun.
As the afternoon heat waned on, we planned a sundown stalk. Driving through the bush to the other side of the spring, we hiked down a ridge and up the other side, all while carrying chairs, refreshments, and snacks. We found a perfect thicket to hide our group just across the spring from the buffalo kill. We waited, snacked and stalked the lion, hoping to see them engorge themselves on the fresh meat...
Life In The Bush
Life here is simple. It reminds us of how insignificant and small our day to day to-dos and drudgery often is. Mobile phones don't work in the bush. It's all face to face conversation and survival of those who work together as a seamless team. The bush provides clarity of thought and moments of excitement, adventure, and unease.
It also brings a harsh reality of danger, demanding respect and bringing equality to everyone who dares enter the bush during dry season.
The split-second moment of glimpsing a lion's tail flicking in the shade of a nearby thicket is rivaled only by the adventure and journey of getting to the place that we're able to stumble upon such a sight.
Most people never set themselves up for such an adventure. It takes forethought and planning. It takes courage and willingness to travel thousands of miles to see such sights. It takes guts and daring to start out on an adventure, whatever your adventure may be. Go ahead, set yourself up to win in life. Places like Chitake Springs won't be there forever.
Posted on October 15, 2013
by Tim & Tommy filed under