Sunday, September 2, 2012

Evening safari in Kidepo National Park

This post is unashamedly about big beasts. That doesn't mean that we didn't see any smaller creatures at all on our evening safari. We saw these beautiful Eastern Grey Plantain-eaters, for example...

...and this African Wattled Plover...

...and as usual, narrowly escaped running over terror-struck ground birds like this Red-necked Spurfowl.

However, this post is principally about elephants and lions, and the spectacular landscape they inhabit, here in the north of Karamoja.

As I recollect, we set off from Apoka Lodge some time round about four o' clock in the afternoon. There were quite a lot of clouds about and rainstorms in the distance. However, the rain held off until after our return.

We hadn't gone very far from the lodge when we saw a kopje, an outcrop of rocks.

Kopjes are common and we noticed nothing special about this one. I can't imagine you do either, but our guide did.

There on the very top, between the tree on the right and the bushes on the left, visible only through the telescopic lens of my camera, we saw a male lion, looking out over the plain below. Such outcrops are favourite sentry posts, from where lions scan the savannah looking out for the choices on that day's menu. Next to the sentry was his brother, fast asleep in the warmth of the late afternoon sun.

Our driver quickly drove round the rocks and we approached from the other side.

There, to our surprise, we saw that there were actually three lions, not two, all males. Here is the one on the far right, with his comatose brother just to his left.

And this is what the sentry was looking at.

Little did these unsuspecting buffalo know that by the following evening, one of them would have become dinner.

Strangely, a group of hyraxes were gambolling around on the rocks just below the lion's viewing point. They seemed perfectly confident that they were safe from harm, despite the looming presence above their heads. Mind you, a hyrax would make only a small mouthful for a lion - unlike a buffalo.

Every so often one lion or another would shift position or drop off, but their patience was remarkable.

Well, sadly, we couldn't stay by the rocks watching lions for ever so we started up the vehicle again and aimed out across the savannah, crossing the dried up river beds and bouncing along the murram track.

The strange Karamojan hills hovered on the skyline, changing colour as the evening went on and as our vehicle changed its direction. Still bright on the left, dimming light on the right.

The whole landscape was filled with black dots: acacia trees, buffalo and, as on the left here.....

...elephants. The grass was so high that it almost swallowed the smaller family members. As they got closer, the huge beasts gradually emerged.

One or two mature elephants started getting twitchy - flapping their ears like the animal below. Our driver quickly turned the vehicle round so that we could make a run for it if necessary. The birds pecking away at the grubs on the back of this exasperated elephant didn't seem in the least concerned.

More elephants appeared at the other side of the track.

Time to move off! We had had our fill of elephants. Who could have guessed there would be so many?

We came back the way we had come and took another route. Sundowners had been promised and we needed to find a suitable rock, above the surrounding land.

Not so fast! What was that on the left of the track?

More elephants, and these ones seemed to be determined to come our way. In fact, they wanted to cross the track in front of us. Which they did - all of them, matriarch in the lead, with the baby.

Adolescents following.

More big elephants behind.

Then they all flocked over.

Some of the youngsters found the track quite unnerving and danced backwards and forwards until they plucked up courage to rush across.

Some found it easier to cross when firmly attached to Mum.

Some decided that twosomes were safer.

And some took their packed lunches with them.

Everything looked absolutely fine until one young elephant decided that we should be on our way. He turned back...

...faced down the track and prepared to rush us.

We left. Time for our sundowners, gin and tonic on a nice safe rock.

It was certainly an evening we will always remember.

You may also be interested in the following posts:

Morning safari in Kidepo National Park
Touching down in the Magic Kingdom - Kidepo National Park
Five lions and a leopard (slideshow)


  1. This is really a fantastic post. Kidepo national park of is the best destination to see the wild life viewing of Uganda.

  2. Glad you liked it! Thank you, Elisabeth