I am told that the first time I came to Londolozi I was eighteen months old. We were fortunate enough to see a pride of lions and my excitement levels were running so high that I screamed to alert my mom (who was sitting right next to me) at the sight of them. I gave everyone, including the lions an enormous fright at which point the ranger had to rush us out of earshot of the lions and the other guests. This was much to the amusement of Dave Varty who has never let me live it down to this day.
Despite my behavior that day I have been back many times since and am proud to say that I have never done the scream thing ever again. In fact that early fear has given way to a deep passion for the wilderness and soul comfort of the African bush.
When I was in high school my family and I would occasionally travel to Londolozi during school holidays to stay with our friends the Vartys. From those trips I remember balmy winter days, lying in the sun alongside a waterhole fringed by giant Albizia trees. The waterhole had huge waterlilly’s floating on its surface. I remember Boyd Varty plucking them out of the brackish water and showing my sister and I how to use the stems of these water plants to make straws for our illegally obtained gin and tonics.
Around the fire at night miles from where I lived in the hustle of the city I felt myself finally home. In the evening call of a nightjar I heard a sound that seemed to whisper directly to me, this is when I knew I would someday live here.
My mom was one of the first receptionists at Londolozi. She remembers her time there with such joy. That even as I sailed along a true city girl I always knew that I would someday end up there… That idea finally manifested itself when I turned 21 and moved myself from the slickness of my Cape Town varsity days to the middle of the Lowveld. Here is where my love affair with the African bush and its people came to life.
I have had the rare privilege of working in a little peace of heaven and meeting some of life’s greatest people. I have always believed that you never truly know your life’s purpose until you have spent time in the African bushveld. Being immersed in these wild places has meant that I form part of a small group of very blessed people in this world.
My Londolozi journey has taken me through the camps as a camp manager and now onto sales where my sole purpose is to entice people to experience this place that so many of us call home. Despite traveling the world to achieve this there is no other place I look forward to coming back to more than Londolozi.
Over the years I have developed a passion for photography and I hope to be able to share the way I see the African bush to you with the help of my trusty camera. Albeit it wont be as regular as some of the other posts I do hope you will enjoy looking at these pictures as much as I enjoy taking them.
Written and photographed by Jacqui Hemphill