Step 1: Wake up early in the morning, around 5 o’clock. Lions are nocturnal so they are active, and hunt, at night. They don’t hunt every night, they spend most nights calling to each other as they walk along sand roads.
Step 2. Make sure that you have nice cup of hot chocolate ready, and jump in the car. At least one bar of chocolate is also helpful.
Step 3. If you have heard lion noises in the night, try and drive in the direction that the noises came from. Lions don’t roar, they make gruff snorting noises. Mila and I can do a good imitation.
Step 4. Look out the car window as you drive, until you find spoor (animal footprints). It’s always good to be out of the campsite before everyone else as cars ahead of you will run over the spoor.
Step 5. If you look closely at the spoor you can work out which direction its heading, how many lions there are, and approximately how big they are.
Step 6. Follow the spoor until…
Scenario 1: You get to a dead end, or until the spoor disappear off into the mopani (small shrubs/trees). The lions are probably trying to find a sleeping spot in the shade to spend the rest of the hot day.
You can try and find the lions in the mopani around you, but your chances of finding them are quite small, especially in the summer (the rainy season) when the grass is long and the bushes are bushy! Sit back, relax and enjoy the chocolate.
Scenario 2: You find the lions. You will get very excited but lions don’t react at all to seeing humans in cars. We have had lion/esses look us in the eye many times, and then just carry on as normal.
We spent three mornings following spoor around Savuti game park but didn’t find any lions. Although we didn’t succeed, don’t give up hope, as there is always a chance… and just looking for lions is exciting in itself.
Picture of lion spoor, and us having found 3 lionesses, 1 male and three babies at Savuti in 2010.