On the trail of the legendary Kalahari lions

King of the Kalahari photo by Steve Toon

“It’s difficult to describe just how vulnerable you feel when your eyes meet the unwavering stare of a predatory lion.”

In the current issue #39 of get lost magazine, Ann and Steve Toon stalk the trail of the legendary Kalahari lions in a remote national park on the border of South Africa and Botswana

“It’s summer in the Kalahari and the temperature, normally an energy-sapping 30-something degrees Celsius, is pushing 44. The wind is picking up and purple clouds, the colour of a bruise, are gathering. Serious rain is on the way. A herd of skittish springbok antelope hightails it to the dunes, and the swirling sand fills our mouths and eyes with grit. With no chance of picking up fresh tracks, the search for our big pride male lion is abandoned until daybreak.

Springbok on the run in South Africa photo Steve Toon

Springbok on the run – photo Steve Toon

Back at camp, while turning chops on the braai (South African for barbie), we’re treated to a mother of an electrical storm above the distant dune ridges. It lights up the campsite with long flashes of piercing white light, like someone’s flicking the switch on a fluorescent lamp. Luckily the rain doesn’t come until much later, but when it does, the relentless drilling noise it makes on our tent means we’re hardly rested when it’s time to hit the trail again at sunrise.

Storm clouds over Nossob Camp South Africa photo Steve Toon

Storm clouds over Nossob Camp – photo Steve Toon

At least it’s stopped raining. Provided we get out before anyone can spoil the trail with their tyre tracks, the wet sand should preserve any fresh pugmarks. The search is on for the black-maned bruiser who, like a tawny-skinned Tony Soprano, heads up the local pride. We’ve named him Big Daddy because he’s a massive brute and has recently fathered cubs. They’re old enough to be tumbling along with the family group, so there’s a chance we’ll catch up with them. Although, in these parts, the mortality rate for young lions is high. Abandonment and starvation are common, if the jackals don’t finish them first.

The lions of the Kalahari are legendary, topping the bucket list of every self-respecting bushwhacker in southern Africa. Experts will tell you there’s no real difference in physique between them and other African lions; that other lions can have luxuriant dark manes like this and other males can grow just as big. But they’ll also not deny that when you see a Kalahari male standing proud in this arid landscape he’ll appear bigger, more handsome and far more imposing than his savannah cousins…”

Continue reading on getlostmagazine.com

get lost magazine issue 39To read the full article by Ann and Steve Toon and to find out what it felt like to lock eyes with the king of the Kalahari, grab your copy of get lost.

get lost magazine’s latest blockbuster issue is out now! As well as covering Cuba, South Africa and kooky Tokyo, they’re featuring a Bucket list for 2014 made up of 40 tips from travel experts, insiders and jet-setting gurus including Richard Branson, John Travolta, Layne Beachley, Tony Wheeler and Intrepid co-founder, Darrell Wade!

Subscribe at www.getlostmagazine.com to have every inspiring edition delivered to your door and for a limited time you can use the promo code “intrepid” for a 25% discount!

Africa photography © Steve Toon.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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1 comments

This is an enlightening read for me. As a wildlife tour operator, I very well know, that you can’t be closer to the ground truths.

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