“Grace and Gratitude” was the theme for this festive season at Christmas.

Irish poet David Whyte says it best in the following piece on Gratitude:

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a-priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.
To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face across the table, of a son’s outline against the mountains, is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit even stranger inner lives beneath calm surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.
Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s strange world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege.
Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets and fully beholds all other presences. Being unappreciative, feeling distant, might mean we are simply not paying attention. – David Whyte

A simply sophisticated family style dinner we felt was the best way to celebrate this theme, so executive chef Anna Ridgewell and her team went all out to produce a mouthwatering Christmas Eve dinner, served on the decks of the Londolozi camps overlooking the Sand River.
Varty and Founders camp went for an earth-styled colour scheme, with reds and browns dominating the decks and the tables adorned with biodegradable crackers.
Tree, Granite and Pioneer camps meanwhile went for a more sparkly theme, with silvers and a bit more glisten being the order of the evening.
Candles lent their soft glow to everything, including beautifully crafted gingerbread houses which took centre stage on each of the tables.
Family style starter platters were the first course, followed by hanepoot duck with cherry glaze, seared salmon and prawns, which led up to the main course of Londolozi’s signature fillet of beef.
The menu was rounded off with something slightly different in the form of delicious gold dusted Italian meringue lemon tarts.

Get a feel for the evening from the pictures below…


Thais Bassit sprinkles a Varty Camp table with light. Light was a core theme across all of the camps and candles and lanterns adorned the tables and decks.


Tree Camp Manager Phil Selwyn-Smith performs some last-minute checks on the setup.

christmas cracker

The biodegradable Christmas crackers at Varty Camp, which show that Christmas can be festive and beautiful but still environmentally respectful.


Pioneer Camp’s intimate dining venue.

christmas varty camp

A beautifully lit Jackalberry tree that has witnessed decade’s worth of Christmas celebrations at Varty Camp.


Wine is always an integral part of any Londolozi celebration and this Christmas Eve was no exception.

christmas giraffe

Our rather uniquely styled Christmas trees. Adorned in fairy lights, the giraffes make an appearance once again this year.


Tree Camp butlers Tresta Mhlongo and Matthews Machaba get into the Christmas spirit.

grace and gratitude Christmas

Anna Ridgewell and the Londolozi Kitchen team were on fine form as usual, serving up an incredible array of sumptuous meals. Feast your eyes on the evening’s menu at the Relais & Châteaux camps.


Cinnamon, rosemary and star anise embellished the tables at the various camps, keeping the style both festive yet rustic, simple yet sophisticated.


Pork and cranberry terrine with cucumber crunch provided a a wonderful option on the starter platters, paired with rooibos smoked salmon en croute with lemon crème fraiche.


Parmesan crisps with springbok carpaccio, wasabi aoli and village rocket combine delightfully with fresh summer peaches topped with gorgonzola.


Simply refreshing Christmas melon and parma ham skewers with basil marinated bocconcini.


Beautiful Gingerbread houses provided the finishing touches to each table.

We at Londolozi wish you all a Merry Christmas full of Grace and Gratitude!

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Amy Attenborough

Media Team

Amy has a rich field-guiding history, having spent time at both Phinda and Ngala Game Reserves. This diversity of past guiding locations brought her an intimate understanding of different biomes across South Africa, and she immediately began making a name for herself as ...

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on Grace and Gratitude this Christmas

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Shawn Clarke

Hey lovely. Did the matimba males came to wish you christmas? They were absent on MM.

Al Kaiser

Looks wonderful. Merry Christmas to the Londolozi family.

Henry & Judiann Smith

Merry Christmas, Londolozi friends! And very best wishes for 2017!

Judy Guffey

Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou from Hawai’i.

John McCabe

Happy Christmas and greetings from Dublin Ireland

Michael & Terri Klauber

Merry Christmas to all of you at Christmas! The settings, menu and food look amazing! You always do such a beautiful job of creating special memories for all your guests at Londolozi!

Bob & Lucie Fjeldstad

Wonderful Amy!!! Mele Kalikimaka from our family to yours & all the staff/family!


Merry chistmas

Ann Seagle

Another winner, Amy!!
Merry Christmas🎄🎄

Malcolm and Laura Stewart

Great to see Tresta and Matthews again, Tresta your wine selection was always magical (especially FMC) and Matthews your Gin and Tonics are legendary
Merry Christmas from Malcolm and Laura Stewart

Jill Larone

Merry Christmas to everyone! Anna, your menu looks delicious, as always. I wish everyone all the best in 2017!

Yvonne Smith

My Grandson Alistair Smith has some wonderful stories to tell about Londolozi and all he has learnt. So just to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful – hopefully plenty more rain and appreciative guests in the future.

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