Yes, you read right.
Who would want to do that? You may ask.
Who wouldn't want to do that? I would reply.
Being on foot, vulnerable to the king of beasts, is an experience I wish upon all my photographic guests. It really does awaken your senses and your appreciation for being in their domain. I'm definitely not talking about being reckless, inducing mock charges, things that are so often done in the name of thrills.
I am merely speaking of sharing respectful, awe-inspiring moments watching lions do what they do, without distressing them or spooking them (and without them spooking you!). This is one of the wonderful aspects of a responsibly guided photographic safari in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Our local operator will always put the wellbeing of the animals in a high regard and will ensure we have these quiet, revered moments with the lions, elephants and other animals of the Mana Pools on foot where possible.
The following photos were all taken in Mana Pools, at distances you wouldn't have thought possible in any other place...and not once were we threatened or threatening the mood of the big cats (not even when they were on a kill).
Now for a little bit about the story above...
Mana Pools is known for its incredible game viewing, not only by vehicle, but on foot as well. It is a unique experience that you don't get in many other National Parks and makes this a massive draw card to the Reserve.
On this particular afternoon, we left camp with the intention of finding the lions that we saw late in the morning when it was already blisteringly hot and the lions were all passed out sleeping.
Our aim was to find them again and spend some time with them as the afternoon started cooling down and they got more active.
What you have to remember is - We have a local guide who is extremely knowledgeable and a Wild Eye guide, in this case me, who has many years of experience in the industry. So when it comes to being out of the vehicle and on foot, the local guide and myself discuss and assess the situation and make the call from there.
We had a tip-off that the lions had been found, not too far from where we had left them in the morning. As we were approaching, we just saw this massive cloud of dust. We couldn't see literally right until we arrived that the lions had just taken down a buffalo. The rest of the herd were in the area and were up and down, thus creating some dust.
The local guide and I assessed the situation, we positioned the vehicle right by a tree with a termite mound and about 50 meters away from where all the action was taking place.
We decided it was safe to get off the vehicle, use the vehicle, tree and termite mound as cover. This proved to be the perfect plan, we were far enough away from the action as to not interfere with the buffalo or the lions.
It is very difficult to wrap your head around being on foot with lions and buffalo and being safe, but thats the beauty of Mana Pools, having a great local guide and a Wild Eye guide, it allows us to maximize your experience.
To be sitting at eye level with a pride of lions that were feeding on a buffalo while the rest of the herd came back to try chase the lions away was simply incredible. To listen to the sounds, to see the dust and to physically feel the stampeding of hooves as the buffalo ran back and forth is an experience you cannot get while being on a vehicle.
To anyone who has not been to Mana Pools, I highly recommend it. Being on foot in nature gives you a completely different feel to a safari and allows you to experience your surroundings in a whole new way.
Until next time,
Mana Pools And South Luangwa
This Mana Pools and South Luangwa Safari is a dream come true. Enjoy two of Africa's wildest, most remote game viewing destinations.
Mana Pools will showcase wildlife to you, on foot, like you never imagined possible. South Luangwa’s incredible wildlife spectacle is as good as any yet remains wild & set apart, far removed from developed civilisation. This is the ultimate safari into Africa’s wild parks! A combination like no other.