Entire days out in the field often produce spectacular results for those willing to put in the time. On this particular occasion, we’d been out all morning and had just finished lunch, sheltering from a rather chilly wind. I was slightly concerned with the constant wind, as we continued with our game drive; often, it heralds a scarcity of game as the animals seek shelter from the cold, which makes midday viewing even more challenging. As you’ll discover, my doubts were unfounded – turning down a narrow track, we spotted a pride of lions next to the channel, near a kill.

We were across the channel from the lions, so getting closer with our vehicle was out of the question. A ribbon of water filled with hippos flowed between us and the pride – yet, ever keen for adventure, we took to the water and literally weaved our boat through the minefield of hippos. Heading up the narrow channel, we were able to get into a fantastic position to view the lions, and then we could see what they had killed. Lying half in the channel was a huge buffalo bull that they’d hunted the evening before. We manoeuvred the boat past the lions, stopping a few metres away from the kill, which gave us an eye-level view of them as they fed. Nothing stood between us – sitting quietly on the boat, we were literally face to face as they took turns to feed on the massive carcass.

The most impressive part, for me, was when the huge male lion (nicknamed Mr Busanga) strolled casually up to the 2,000 pound carcass and pulled that deadweight, together with a young lioness standing on top of it, out of the water so they could feed more easily. It would also lessen the opportunities for the gathering crocodiles to share the feast. Once he’d dragged it ashore, he allowed his favourite daughter to feed, while two other sub-adult males waited a short distance away, occasionally sneaking a bite here and there. The two males were eventually granted permission to feed, after a few growls and some tough discipline from him.

As we watched, an enormous hippo bull slowly made his way up the channel towards the kill site. He passed the carcass and continued to approach us – just a few metres away, he raised himself unhurriedly, and then without any trace of belligerence, walked out of the channel, skirting our boat, before re-entering the water. This rare encounter was all the more special for his relaxed manner, at complete odds with the usual aggression shown by hippos in such close proximity.

Later that afternoon, after spending several hours with the lions, we left them to the remains of the carcass, and headed for dry land before the sun set on what was rapidly becoming a rather busy hippo route! A very special sighting indeed, and a privilege to be able to sit so close and at such a low angle to a pride of lion as they fed.