Lions in the Rain, South Africa

MARCH 2004 – In the beginning darkness of the night, two lions lie in the wet grass of the Schotia Private Game Reserve in South Africa observing the surroundings. © Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

We had visited the Addo Elephant National Park earlier that day, the weather was not perfect. Well, that’s an understatement. In fact, it was really bad! The sky was covered completely, but – at least – it did not rain. Not yet. We saw a group of elephants really close. And we wanted more!

We decided to go for a “Half Day Safari” with Schotia Safaris who operate a private game reserve close to Addo Elephant National Park. Trusted Landrovers would bring us to the Lions creating a feeling like John Wayne in the movie Hatari. 🙂

Once you enter the game reserve, you will be guided around (in the cars) looking for the animals. It may be a bit bumpy at times, but hey, you want to do the real thing, don’t you? And we saw many animals, like a herd of Zebras, a sleeping rhino, a buffalo (in the distance), antelope.

Not only darkness would set in soon, but dark clouds were covering the sky, and spray rain was setting in. You do not get very good shots with a 210 mm lense and just a 400 ASA film without a tripod – in a shaky car! (Not blaming the tour guides, though, because they did their best to provide a good experience!)

The real drama of our visit was that the spray rain was getting stronger, like really strong rain, preventing any good shots of the animals. We drove back to the base camp to get a nice cup of tea, hoping that the rain would stop soon.

Guess what? The rain did stop, and when we set out for the second trip, we saw the lions! It was a truly fantastic experience, completely different from a visit to your local zoo (and mind you, this was our first guided tour ever.).

The lions clearly were the kings of the scene. They watched us, not really interested, but we immediately felt their presence. We knew that these animals are not pets. They were just a few meters from our car. And I was a fantastic position to photograph these majestic animals, trying to hold the camera steady while using a long exposure time in a 210 mm focal length setting. As you can imagine, the shots were just so-so.

But THIS shot turned out quite well, and I am still proud that it shows a very different setting compared to your glitzy shots in a sunny condition with higher ISO and image stabilizer. You can see the mist from the rain earlier, and the lions did not mind the humid weather.

So, all-in-all, this was a fantastic safari, and it was good even with the rain. How much better would it be without rain? If you go to Addo, we definitely recommend to go for the Schotia Safari as well. It’s certainly worth it!

The high resolution image

Capture Date09-MAR-2004
LocationNear Port Elizabeth, South Africa
CameraCanon AE-1 Program
LensCanon FD 70-210 mm f/4
Image SourceFuji Slide Film, 400 ASA
Digital Image SourceMinolta Dimage Scan Elite II
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, AdobeRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions3706 x 2471 Pixels
Copyright© by Mark Zanzig/

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