The moment my legs begin to move; my thoughts begin to flow – Henry David Thoreau

As a ranger I am privileged to spend most of my time out in the wild spaces of Londolozi, taking people out to explore new areas and see animals do incredible things. But there are many people at Londolozi who spend most of their time behind the scenes in offices, ensuring the Wi-Fi is up and running, bookkeeping or in the kitchen, preparing decadent meals for all of our guests. These dedicated members of the Londolozi family seldom get a chance to venture out of camp and to thank them for their hard work, we decided to take them for a walk on the wild side.

ximpalapala koppie

A team of Londolozi staff scan the horizon from atop Ximpalapala Koppie. After a long walk they watched the sunset from this rocky outcrop before setting up camp for an evening at the base of the koppie.

We left camp after lunch and walked past the waterhole outside of Varty Camp, where African jacanas scurried across the lily pads and a hippo snorted in the distance. We meandered our way through bushwillow and tamboti forests where nyala alarm called at what we could only assume was a male leopard, based on fresh tracks we had seen. We reached a safe spot to cross the Sand River into the northern parts of Londolozi, where impala watched us cautiously as we navigated our way toward the Manyelethi River. It was here that we climbed up a series of granite hills and admired a large leaved rock fig, the roots of which have the potential to split rock. Whilst admiring the view from the top of the hill we spotted two buffalo bulls resting in a mud wallow below. The incredible thing about walking in the bush is that if you play your cards right, animals don’t detect your presence and will carry on as though you are not even there. After leaving the hills and navigating our way around the buffalo we followed the Manyelethi River upstream and over a crest toward Ximpalapala Koppie, where we were to camp for the evening.

Hippo and his companions

A hippo watches from the far end of the waterhole, seemingly disinterested in our movements.

After preparing our camp site we climbed up the very top of the rocky outcrop and watched the sun set over the Drakensberg escarpment to the west. With the light beginning to fade and the descent looking a little more treacherous, we scrambled back down to our camp site, where we lit a fire to keep us warm and to boil a kettle for a much needed cup of coffee. Each member of the group was given the task of keeping watch for a two hour shift to ensure no animals came to investigate us or if they did to alert the rest of the group so we could make a hasty retreat. On one occasion, a clan of three hyenas gawked curiously at us from a distance. However, as soon as they noticed the human silhouettes in the camp fire they moved off and carried on with their evening’s activities.

camp out

The rather rustic yet comfortable sleeping arrangements for the evening. Despite warm temperatures during the day, the team got closer and closer to the fire as the night went on and the temperatures dropped.

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Bushveld Bonfire under starlit sky

The team took turns to guard the fire and to keep it burning throughout the night to ensure that no inquisitive animals got too close to camp. Despite hearing numerous animals calling in the distance and a few hyenas approach the outskirts, we didn’t have any close calls during the night.

Being head of IT at Londolozi, Cath De Beer spends a good deal of time behind a computer. For her, sleeping under the stars and watching the full moon rise were the highlights of the experience. For Sarah Calasse, a chef at Granite Camp, it was the tranquility of the bush, which accentuated the sounds of wild animals that was most memorable for her. For me, it was about the simplicity of life out here. Although for many it may not be the case, there are few things that are more relaxing than spending an evening under the stars in the wilds of Africa, listening to lions roar on the distant horizon. As I kept watch that night, I listened to African scops owls call and baboons alarm bark in the moonlight somewhere in the Manyelethi River. I imagined the leopard that they must have seen stalking in the reeds and started to form a complete picture of what goes on out here when I am usually sound asleep back at camp.

lion onesie at night

Sarah Calasse, dressed in the seemingly popular lion onesie, enjoys the warmth of the blazing fire and the blanket of stars we see on clear nights at Londolozi.

Milky Way_Amanda Ritchie_No WM

A long exposure photograph showing the intensity of the stars that we’re seeing in the winter sky at the moment. For many of the staff, just getting to gaze as the clear night sky was one of their greatest highlights from the bush immersion.

The next morning we lay in our sleeping bags and watched the sun rise over to the east. After a cup of coffee, we put out the fire and packed up the rest of camp before setting off on another walk back to camp. We arrived home feeling as though we had been gone for days, with a deeper appreciation of these wild places, and a hankering for a good hot shower.

Filed under Life

8 Comments

on Londolozi’s Staff Take a Walk on The Wild Side

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Jill Larone
Guest

It sounds amazing Shaun, what a fantastic experience!

Wendy Hawkins
Guest

Wonderful & I am sure it was much appreciated by all! Thank you Londolozi for treating your staff to this beauty in the dark <3

MJ Bradley
Guest

What a wonderful treat! I would think it would be a peaceful feeling out there under the winter skies. Thank you for sharing!

Margarita Doychinova
Guest

NICE!

Alison Smith
Guest

what an experience!

Lea
Guest

How nice to treat the staff who are unable to get out in the wild to a wonderful experience.
Am sure they will carry these memories with them forever.

Kate Imrie
Guest

Dear Shaun,
Wonderful, this makes my heart sing! It is so special for the staff to get out and feel connected to the earth and all her magic.

Amy Attenborough

Thanks Kate! Missing you and the rest of the family. Lots of love, Ames

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