Christmas eve is a special time at Londolozi. It’s a time for us to come together as one Londolozi family and celebrate the traditions of Christmas, albeit with a slightly different, bushveld flair. This year was no different as each of Londolozi’s five camps were transformed into individual wonderlands of festivity, light and merriment.
Around the world, at the heart of most Christmas celebrations is the meal, where we not only enjoy good food, but we enjoy the company, the stories and the pageantry of it all. At the centre of this year’s Christmas Eve celebration was the incredible food that Chef Anna Ridgewell and her team put together. While each camp put their own spin on the feel of the evening, the menu remained simply sophisticated across the board. Watermelon Gazpacho, followed by Rock Lobster was the perfect start to a balmy evening along the banks of the Sand River. To follow was grilled Duck Breast with a Cherry and Balsamic Sauce and Fillet of Beef with a Mustard Hollandaise. To wrap up the evening’s dining, we could not go without a flaming Christmas Pudding, which each camp presented with flair on the deck, while eager eyes gazed into the bright blue flames.
Keeping with tradition, Pioneer camp was decked with hints of silver, trophies, pincushions and simple yet elegant touches of light. The Pioneer Camp team hosted a family affair, where the pre-dinner proceedings saw Tayla Smith, Don Heyneke and Garrett Fitzpatrick being awarded with ‘The Green Jersey’, a daily award that the Pioneer guests gave out to the most deserving members after a day on Safari – testament to the fact that at Londolozi, family is the most important thing.
The feel at Founders Camp was also one of family celebration. With Christmas jazz oozing out into the navy blue night from under the roof of the deck, and a buzz in the air, the Founders team (Cry Sithole and Helen Rivett) created the perfect night in which to relax, connect and enjoy the delicious cocktails that they had on offer for their guests under the African sky.
The Private Granite Suites was an elegant affair accented with silver and the scent of fresh berries that you would have found in the delicious welcome drinks – the creation of Granite Camp Manager, Graeme Gullacksen and his team, who made sure that Christmas Eve at Granite Camp was as classical an affair as always.
At the heart of Londolozi lies Varty Camp, and Christmas Eve was no exception. You could feel the energy of the evening resonate out from under the old Jackalberry Tree. The deck was adorned with lanterns, and strings of fairy lights made the traditional Schwe Schwe glow a glorious ruby red. Varty Camp managers Rob Crankshaw and Will Ford made sure that the vibe was no less than extraordinary at all times.
A Leopard cocktail of passion fruit and sparkling wine awaited guests on arrival at Tree Camp, which gave way to the famous Tree Camp deck that was lit up with lanterns, candle light, wire baobab trees and red candy canes. The swish of a black bow-tie donned by Tree Camp manager Phil Selwyn-Smith was the cherry on the top of an intimate Christmas Eve dinner for the Tree Camp guests.
If you tore yourself away for a second from the festivities of the night, and walked quietly along the camp walkway, you would have heard the melodies of the Londolozi Ladies’ choir wafting along as they travelled from camp to camp sending lyrical wishes of goodwill and cheer.
While each camp hosted it’s own version of Christmas Eve, there was not doubt that the overriding feeling across the lodge was that of fun, relaxation and festivities, and in our opinion, we couldn’t ask for more on the eve before Christmas.
From the entire Londolozi Family, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas!
Written and photographed by Amanda Ritchie – Photography Studio Manager