Photos and videos from guests & staff for September 2015
A group of 14 Americans stayed at McBrides for 6 days. The following letter is from their leader…
A description by Laura, a guest, of a evening game drive
It’s true that I was riding in an open jeep at 2 am chasing after lions. And it’s true that it was a moonless night with a clear view of the Milky Way and the brightest stars I’d ever seen. And it’s true that we saw them – two huge male lions with bulging bellies moving swiftly down the road “patrolling” as they headed into the northern part of their territory. They were moving at a pace faster than I could run, they were sure and steady, and they paid no attention to us. Humans fear the unknown, but animals fear only what they know, says bush camp owner and lion tracker Chris McBride. In this remote area of Kafue National Park with perhaps a handful of bush camps, animals see few humans or jeeps. McBride has been careful not to let animals get habituated to people; as a result, predators like the big cats don’t walk close to vehicles or linger lazily in full sigh at mid-day as they do in other parks. In the McBride camp area, lions keep their distance, they give us a glance and they move on.
Our lion search adventure wasn’t haphazard, at least not from the “yes there are lions nearby perspective”. Most of us had been hearing roars since we went to bed around 9 pm. Chris must have determined that the lions were very close to the camp hence the inspiration to go out looking for them in the middle of the night. Even though I was able to get dressed in a few minutes, Chris and I did not move quickly. I was the spotter in the vehicle, meaning my job was to sweep a floodlight in front of the jeep looking for animals and literally searching for the lights of their eyes while Chris drove. The spotlight wasn’t working and we were a comedic team fumbling with the light jerking and halting and driving along the road. At the same time, I was being poked by a rifle that was on the seat, there to protect us and potentially to warn the animals away. (In truth, I don’t think I was being butted by the rifle but I couldn’t ignore its existence sitting next to me and I didn’t want to touch it or trigger it (ha, ha)). Chris managed to fix the spotlight and we were able to move along. He soon spotted fresh poo on the road – a gleeful sight that indicated we were indeed on the lions’ path.
I was dubious that we’d actually see them as I attempted to keep the light moving above the hood (or bonnet as Chris would say) of the jeep, but it turns out the lions like to use the road for travel (!) Within 10 minutes we were right behind them. Two big beautiful full-maned muscular 500 plus pound Asian and Chesterton named from the Narnia Chronicles. As Chris muttered “fabulous creatures, fabulous fabulous” we followed them for a good half hour eventually going off-road until the brush became too thick for the vehicle. The lions didn’t seem to mind the noise we made mowing down trees and lumbering ahead (Chris often said, I’m sorry tree.) But our wanderings meant that we (read, Chris) had to find the way back to camp in the dark in an area with few landmarks. True confessions Mom, we did not have a compass or GPS. Chris forgot these in his haste to move quickly to catch sight of the lions. We did have a radio but Chris’ wife Charlotte never answered our pleas. So we were maneuvering through thickets crashing down small trees trying to avoid holes in the earth and searching for open spots where Chris might find the Southern Cross to get oriented. It was comical and slightly worrisome to see Chris get out of the jeep with a flashlight aiming it at the stars looking for the constellation and then looking down at the ground and studying something I could not see. Since he stopped and looked down several times every time we got to a clearing, I figured he was praying, not peeing, but later it occurred to me that he was looking at animal tracks. We eventually found a line of stones that Chris knew went east-west and that allowed us to find our way in a southerly direction back to the camp, nearly all the while Chris alternating between saying “this is the worst possible thing that could happen; the Southern Cross must be below the horizon; Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte come in Charlotte; and, move the light to the left, please, thank you Laura.”
We got back to the camp around 4 am, had tea, and went back to sleep.
Such is the rhythm of a true bush camp. You never know when it’s time for a game drive, so be prepared to dress quickly and don’t forget your flashlight, compass and GPS!
Photos from Chris
Spider Orchid – flowers every September
Elephants coming back into the camp
Trail Camera Video
Photos from Charlotte at MUSHINGASHI CONSERVANCY, DELAI LODGE
JACOB AND LUKE
Photos by Jan Rijnink
Photo by Frank Out
Photos By John Rosmarin
The Loan Ranger asleep
Photos by Linda Raaf
Photos by Craig Paton-Ash
The First Carmine Bee-Eaters seen at McBrides in 14 years
Photos by Wolfgang Neuhold (Wolfie)