The Super Cats of Etosha [part 1]: Meet the Mighty Lion

If you're anything like us, encounters with the big cats will be on top of your wish list for any visit to Etosha. Whether it's lion, leopard or cheetah, coming eye to eye with these powerful animals is always thrilling, beautiful & humbling at the same time.

These mighty predators are each equipped with super powers, yet are very different in character & behavior. Here's a short-list of their habits, which will help you find & understand them more easily. Let's start with lions.

[Image] Male lions play early morning, Etosha, Namibia

Lions are truly creatures of the night. Whilst we are cuddled up in our sleeping bags they're on a power walk across the African savanna preying for their nightly meal. In Etosha's wilderness it's likely going to be springbok on their menu, sometimes they'll have wildebeest ribs or zebra steak ... raw, of course.

[Image] Lioness at a carcass at night, Etosha, Namibia

In the latter case, when they've caught larger prey, you might get lucky and catch them still feasting after the sun's come up ... so keep a look-out for a fresh carcass on your first morning drive.

Sunrise is generally the best time to encounter active lions in Etosha. Then they are often on their way to the next waterhole to wash down their nightly feast.

[Image] Lion couple quenching its thirst at Okondeka spring, Etosha, Namibia

However, this might not be the end of the shift, if you're the pride's dominant males. As it's on their 'to-do-list', they'll head off for a half-marathon walk to patrol the pride's territory and, if need be, defend it against intruders, that is: lions not part of their pride.

[Image] Male lions patrolling their territory, Etosha, Namibia

As soon as temperatures rise, however, lions hit the snooze button. They find themselves a cozy spot in the shade and hit the ground pretty much for the rest of the day.

Once you've discovered these sleeping beauties in the bush, there is no rush for you. On the contrary, there is plenty of time - and ample reason - to keep watching them for a length of time, 'cause quite often lions, just like our house cats, may roll into somewhat comical positions or display cute facial expressions during their beauty sleep.

[Image] Sleepy lions, Etosha, Namibia

Towards sunset, or as soon as it becomes cooler, they slowly awaken. This requires a number of casual rolls from side to side, some sleepy head-lifting and ... a MUST ... a series of wholehearted yawns. Be sure not to miss these entertaining & photogenic moments.

[Image] Lioness yawning, Etosha, Namibia

Just before or - if you're unlucky - minutes after you'll have to drive back to camp in time for the gates to close, the lions will get up and head for their sun-downer bar - the closest waterhole - to refresh themselves and ready up for their night-shift.

If you stayed with them for this long, now might be your final chance of the day to become truly impressed. When a lion walks past you at eye level, and may even lock eyes with you for a split second, it's a life-altering experience.

This single glance gives away it's true nature: it no more belongs to a cute, sleepy kitty cat, but to the soul of a super predator, that's wild, fearless & strong beyond measure.

[Image] Male lion in its prime, Etosha, Namibia

We hope you enjoyed this excursion into the lives of Etosha's lions. Keep looking out for our next newsletter with part 2 of our 'Super Cats' series, where we reveal the secret lives of leopards in the Park.

Until then, keep well & stay wild :-). With our best wilderness wishes,

Yours, Claudia & Wynand du Plessis |

Namibia Wildlife Photographers


PS: If you're eager to learn about the fascinating secrets & seasonal rhythms of Etosha's grand wilderness, including the grand super cats, why don't you have a look at our coffee-table book: 'Etosha. Rhythms of An African Wilderness'- available in German, English, Italian & French - (click here for to find out more)

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