Searching for Tau in the Pilanesberg

It’s a cold, late summer morning. I’m on an early morning safari truck, tightly wrapped up in a blanket. I’m desperately trying to protect my face from the icy lashes hurtling towards it as we drive through the park. So far this morning, we have spotted a rhino, various buck, a black backed jackal and zebras. I think we’re having a good run but now, we’re fiercely searching for Tau.

Morning in the Pilanesberg


Tau, the seSotho word for Lion, is the main attraction on the safari but is not always very accommodating. Earlier in the morning, while at the lake our guide identified, what he referred to as, “verbalisations of Tau” (I didn’t hear anything but the guide says it was rather distinct, so okay). We’re nearing the end of our tour, after an icy morning the sun slowly starts to make an appearance. After two hours, despite the “raucous” noise they’ve been making, we have yet to see Tau.

And then a message crackles over the radio “verbalisations of Tau… (something)…near the lake.” Yes, well we’ve been here before I think. Our guide asks whether we would like to head back to the lake, we had earlier abandoned out quest and were now on the other side of the park. The international tourists in our tour vehemently agree and off we went down the dusty roads of the park, the wind slapping our faces as the words “Tau is here…Tau is here” came screaming through the radio.

Indeed, Tau was there and so was everyone else.

All of us
All of us at the lake

After a long chilly morning, we finally found the illusive Tau. The family was out for a walk and yes,’verbalising’ along the lake’s shore (a lot easier to hear once we got there). The area around where they were walking was of course very congested (those radios work) but it was a great sight to see.

Lions out for a walk
Follow the leader



The older male lion was right at the end of the procession. He is rather old and “won’t be with us much longer” we are told. The little cub was rather taken with his grandfather and was adamant that he not be left behind. So, we got to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ as he ran between his mother and grandfather egging him to get a move on.

Mom and baby cubGrandpa and cub


Despite my freezing fingers and feeling bizarre huddle of tourists, I was pleased that we got up before dawn to spot some game. It was my first safari, so I was pleased we got see the lions. I was even more pleased at seeing the big five my first time around. (Look out for that story…next post)



Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve, North West Province


7 Comments Add yours

  1. 2summers says:

    Wow, this was your first-ever safari? And you saw the big five? So lucky! Pilanesberg is so underrated in this regard.


    1. blacksdoswim says:

      Yep, I’m told that’s super lucky as that’s not often the case. So, I’m pleased we picked Pilanesberg.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, reading this is like deja vu. Did you do this safari on March 8 2015 out of Manyane camp? I think I may have been in the same truck as you. We had the same sightings and I have a similar photo of the lion cub and the very old lion. I (an american woman) was with 3 french guys.


    1. blacksdoswim says:

      Haha that’s so cool. I guess it could’ve been us. Right date and place. I remember three guys and a lady buy can’t recall from where. So maybe it was you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is cool ! I think it must have been the same as there was only one jeep leaving Manyane that morning. I was the lady that spotted the black-backed jackals in the beginning of the safari. And when we saw the white rhino, the guide said if it was a black rhino he would already be over at the jeep. When we were over on the other side of the park when the lions were spotted again, he was really flying to get back to the sighting. I didn’t write about the trip, just a quick mention of it and the lion photo here:

        What a small world !

        Liked by 1 person

      2. blacksdoswim says:

        It was you then…small world indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

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