Working in the Cubs Den, walking between camps is a daily occurrence.

Over the past 3 months of being back at Londolozi I have started to take more notice of the many little creatures that I have come across on the path between Varty and Pioneer camps.

One morning, leaving Cubs Den, a large land snail was making its way slowly across the path from one patch of vegetation to the next. It was a beautiful morning, the ground and air were fresh from the night before’s rain and overhead was a cloudless sky. It was lovely to see this snail as during the drought last year they were not often seen as during prolonged dry periods they are able to seal themselves into their shell, by secreting a calcareous substance that upon contact with the air dries.

The Giant Land Snail has a brown shell which is conical in shape. Its shell is very tough which helps it survive to its life span of between 5-6 years. Photograph by Eric Guinther

After popping into Varty Camp to discuss the days activities with guests, my walk continued to Founders Camp. Movement in a nearby bush caught my eye. Inside was a Kurrichane Thrush fluttering about in the bush. The most striking feature against the green bush was its orange belly. It seemed busy as it hopped to the ground, turning over leaves in search of a breakfast grub.

A kurrichane thrush’s diet consists of earthworms, insects, snails, fruits, and spiders. It can reach a length of 24 cm and a mass of at least 101 grams. Photograph byAdam Reily

Outside Granite Camp was the resident tortoise, also having a breakfast munch on the succulents in the flowerbed. With my passing it retreated into its shell until it felt safe enough to continue its morning meal.

Female tortoises dig nesting burrows in which they lay from one to 30 eggs. Tortoises are herbivores eating flowers, grasses, leafy greens, weeds and some fruits. Photograph by Josephine Benecke

A few metres away from the tortoise was a Plumbago bush with its blue flowers or “earring flowers” as the Cubs Den children like to call them, as the flower is enclosed in a green sticky case, which is perfect for sticking to one’s ear lobes, enabling you to have the latest pair of bush earrings.

White butterflies fluttering past the bush stood out against these flowers. Not resting, merely continuing on their day’s journey.

Plumbago flowers. Photograph by Carl Lewis

On the left hand side of the path was a troop of Vervet monkeys, eyeing out the morning traffic. The babies were clinging to their mothers’ tummies and the teenagers practising their acrobatic skills in a nearby tree.

A Vervet monkey diet mostly consists of flowers, leaves, wild fruits, seeds, seed pods, termites, grasshoppers and occasionally they raid birds nests looking for eggs. They can often be spotted on Founders and Varty decks eyeing out the breakfast buffet, especially the muffins. Photograph by Josephine Benecke

Keeping a watchful eye on the camera. Photograph by Kylie Jones

Walking towards Pioneer Camp I heard a big rustle to my right; there was a rock monitor lizard speeding down the slope away from the path. I don’t know who got a bigger fright: me or the monitor lizard! Upon reaching Pioneer deck a couple of female rainbow skinks dashed away from their sunning spots due the vibration of my footsteps.

A female rainbow skink. Photograph by Josephine Benecke

Later that day, after a morning of track moulding, baking and painting, I reflected about the walk between the camps and realised the similarities between all the animals I had bumped into and the children. Each animal, like each child, was different in appearance and each has their own personality, making them unique. Like each child visiting Londolozi and each little creature, although they are small, can light up ones day with the joy they bring.



Filed under Cubs Den

About the Author

Josephine Benecke


Josephine grew up on a farm just south of Johannesburg, which exposed her to open spaces and encouraged her to develop a love for nature at a very young age. Later she attended the Diocesan College for Girls in the Eastern Cape where ...

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on The Joy of the Little Things

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Gay Walker

A delightful piece of writing. Brought back memories of the small things that have warmed my heart in the past. I love the Londolozi blog. It keeps me in touch with Africa, my old home.

Jill Larone

What a lovely walk you have each morning Josephine! Thank you for taking me along with you!

Diane Phillips

Is Plumbago indigenous to Africa? We have it here in Texas USA. Was curious. Thank you for all your blogs and photographs.

James Tyrrell

Hi Diane,

No it’s not indigenous here. The genus Plumbago comprises 10 species from the warmer parts of the world. There are 5 species in South Africa although offhand I’m not 100% sure which the species is that Jo was looking at on her walk; I’ll try and find out.
Best regards

Jeff Rodgers

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful article. I have been coming to Africa on safari for almost 20 years and have been to Londolozi 8 times. If I never hear the words ‘Big 5’ again it will be too soon. So many guests miss opportunities to see and learn about all the creatures by focusing just on elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo and leopards. While they are certainly wonderful and a thrill to see, it is learning about it all that helps make a safari the wonderous adventure that it can always be.

Wendy Hawkins

Thank you Josephine for sharing the small things in your beautiful world, they are as important as the big 5 🙂


What a nice article Josephine. You hit the nail on the head – we overlook the smaller things in life while taking note of the big stuff. That old saying “you have to stop and smell the roses” rings true. Thanks for shining a light on the little things in life.

Callum Evans

Beautiful post. Whenever I’m in nature, I always seem to be spend more time looking for birds, plants and reptiles than I do mammals. Leopards are always my favourite animals but I believe that you have to look at the entire ecosystem and everything within in order to get the full bushveld experience (or experience the real wonder of any natural area). This is something I learnt on my first birding trip, when I also found myself admiring monitor lizards, foam frog nests and latern trees as well as the elephants and fish eagles.

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