He is without a doubt the most observant, attentive and knowledgeable man I have met. Compassionate and humble, he represents the man I wish to be. With a contagious smile and infectious laugh, he turns heads every time he talks. I’d like to believe that all Londolozi staff members reading this know exactly who I am talking about and I am fairly certain most of my previous guests and avid blog followers know too… Freddy Ngobeni.

Freddy and I Plaque Rock CA

Freddy and me stand alongside each other with the beautiful Sand River behind us at a spot known as Plaque rock.

It was just the other day at a drinks stop filled with passionate football supporters that Freddy was able to recite not only the eight proceeding UEFA Champions league fixtures but also the time in which they were being held. Freddy, being a passionate Manchester United supporter made an ensuing debate regarding the technicalities of the game along with preferred team selections and predictions. These are the moments I will never forget. Unfathomable to most, a photographic memory is something that only those that have it will ever understand and I strongly believe that Freddy is one such person blessed with one!

Although I’ll sadly be leaving at the beginning of November this is not my last goodbye, or a goodbye at all, but rather humble appreciation and heartfelt thanks for what I have learnt from such a great man.

Freddy and Piva CA

A passionate photographer! Here Freddy glances in the direction of a herd of impala whilst photographing one of his favourite leopards, the late Piva male.

7
Piva 3:2 Male
2010 - 2017

Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.

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Piva 3:2 Male

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
30 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

“You were so bad at birds,” arbitrarily exclaimed Freddy whilst preparing morning coffee several months back. To my astonishment (not due to the lack of truth but rather its mentioning), I turned towards him and was greeted with a comical smile and a soft chuckle. I smiled back and responded with a nudge of his shoulder, “I was, wasn’t I?” Needless to say my passion for birding and identifying new species have grown exponentially throughout the years, thanks to Freddy.

I have worked with Freddy since arriving at Londolozi and one can only describe it as a life changing experience. Having had little, to no knowledge of the bush nor much previous safari experience, I came to Londolozi keen and willing to learn as much as possible about this beautiful and natural landscape that I now call home. It was difficult to be one of the least experienced trainee rangers (of all time) but quickly found my feet, put my head in the books and tried to study the vast array of flora and fauna situated in our immediate surroundings. It was however not until pairing up with Freddy as a ranger and tracker team that my knowledge and appreciation of the bush grew exponentially. Freddy, through his patience and knowledge sharing abilities has enabled my progress to where I am today. Since our first drive together, we have been able to form a strong and cohesive bond, one that has strengthened over time into the friendship that we now share. Trust, loyalty and respect is what governs our game drives and it is that unbreakable partnership formed that enables us to work so well together.

Freddy and Callum Ximpala CA

Photographed next to Freddy with his contagious smile as we stand on top of Ximpalapala crest. It must be said that one of my regrets is not taking as many photos with Freddy as I should have.

We have been fortunate enough to witness some incredible animal interactions together, have had opportunities to analyse differing circumstances, been privileged enough to follow the growth of leopard cubs and the dynamic lives of numerous adult leopards as well as share with each other our life stories and contrasting backgrounds. He’s given me invaluable tracking lessons, helped me set up countless drinks stops and watched out for the safety of our guests with me. We’ve had a few edgy encounters with rhinos, hippos and a black mamba, and I’ve been amazed by his incredible spotting ability. His tangible presence on the vehicle will forever live with me. His extraordinary knowledge of astronomy and reverence for the bush are things that need to be cherished and passed on through future generations.

I am sure that rangers that have previously worked with Freddy will express a similar sentiment and respect for what he has done as well as any Londolozi guests that have had the privilege of driving with him. Thank you again my friend!

Involved Leopards

Piva 3:2 Male

Piva 3:2 Male

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About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

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33 Comments

on A Tribute To A Great Man and Life-Long Friend

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Marinda Drake

Lovely bloģ Callum. We had Freddy as a tracker with Tally many years ago. A pity that you are leaving soon. We are visiting the end of November. Still remember the great times we had together when you were a trainee ranger.

Callum Gowar

Thanks very much for your message Miranda. Have a great trip at the end of the month.

Marinda Drake

Thanks Callum. Good luck in your new venture.

Shawn Cheshire

I am blind and My first visit to the bush was absolutely life changing with Freddy and Shaun.
I could always hear the smile in freddy’s Voice. I’m forever grateful. Shaun never did let me drive… good thing I will be back soon enough.

Callum Gowar

What an inspirational story Shawn. Freddy really is a remarkable man that has touched many peoples lives. Enjoy your next visit!

Callum Evans

A beautiful tribute to what I gather to be an incredible man! Sorry to hear that you’ll be leaving Londolozi next month, loved your photos of leopards!

Callum Gowar

Thank you very much Callum. I will certainly miss Londolozi and all it entails!

Denise Vouri

Callum, what a lovely tribute to your good friend and sidekick. I’m sure your takeaway from Londolozi will forever be linked to the life lessons and joyful moments shared with Freddy. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt sentiments and all the best to you.

Callum Gowar

Thank you for your message Denise. It most certainly will live with me forever and I look forward to sharing future moments with him.

Michael & Terri Klauber

Callum, we will miss you and your infectious smile! Even though “birding” may have been a challenge, we saw that your dancing with the Village Choir was a standout achievement! Hope to see you sometime in the US. You are always welcome here!

Callum Gowar

Thank you for your message Terri and Michael. Hopefully I can impress you with my dancing ability next year in the States. I will certainly be in touch especially if I am in and around Sarasota. Thank you for your kind offer!

Angela Massaro-Fain

When my husband John Fain and I were at Londolozi in June 2017 (thanks Klauber’s #GCCCafrica), we had no concept as to the beauty and life-changing experience we would have. Much of that was because of Freddy and Callum – knowledgeable – both gents were able to inform our merry band of #Londoloonies about the animals, the nature and yes – the birds (Callum – you’ll learn how to pronounce “BILL” someday… HA!); they showed us all SO MUCH… we were truly amazed at how close we were able to get to such amazing animals; and we shared many a drink and laughs!
Thanks so much to YOU BOTH for a trip we will never forget.
Best wishes to you Callum on your next life adventure – we hope to see you in Florida someday.

Callum Gowar

Many thanks for your heartfelt message Angela. It was a real pleasure to meet John and yourself (and the rest of the Londoloonies) and I hope to be in contact with you guys next year! I am glad that both of us were able to have that significant impact on your trip. See you next year sometime!

Mary Beth Wheeler

Will miss our morning banter at my next visit, Callum! Seen Camp Pan recently?!!

Callum Gowar

I know you want believe me but we manage to see Camp Pan, Marthly male and Tu Tones last week! 😉 Take care Mary Beth and hopefully Nick lives up to his reputation next time you visit!

Jennifer Ridgewell

Yes, we were also privileged to have Freddy as our Tracker with Tally – what a team! Wishing you well on your journey Callum and knowing you will never forget the Londolozi experience – outstandingly special as a visitor and imagine it must have been the most amazing working and learning experience.

Callum Gowar

Thank you Jennifer. It was truly an amazing experience and most certainly difficult to try and follow in Talley’s footsteps.

Darlene Knott

What a wonderful tribute to a man who must deserve every kind word of your praise! I am sure he is a brilliant and lovely man!

Callum Gowar

He most certainly is Darlene. Thank you for your message.

Judith Guffey

Stay one more month. I was looking forward to marshmallows in my morning hot chocolate in December. You know how much I love Freddy and you. Wonderful tribute to him. Mahalo from Gogo aka Tutu in Hawai’i.

Callum Gowar

Thanks for your message Judy. I am sure Freddy’s new ranger will have the marshmallows packed and ready for your arrival. Have a wonderful stay and take care of yourself.

Michael Stern

Magical Magical Magical – The words you uttered at every incredible sighting and describes perfectly the chemistry between you and Freddy. We were lucky to have you both lead us on the journey of a lifetime. We will never forget Callum and Freddy standing on the top of the jeep waving goodbye as our plane departed.

Callum Gowar

Leopard Leopard Leopard! Thanks for your message Mike. I guess you were lucky that we hung around to wave goodbye, it was good to see the back of you guys! 😉 I will update you as to my plans for next year as soon as I know them. It will be magical to meet up again. Take care of those knees! 😉

Wendy Hawkins

What a wonderful tribute to this great man! I am also very sad that you are leaving this amazing place, but I wish you luck in your new adventures & hope one day to see the pictures you are going to take? Enjoy your last few days at Londo

Callum Gowar

Thank you for your kind words Wendy.

Leonie De Young

A really nice blog Callum. Sad that you are leaving Londolozi, but wish you all the very best in your future endeavours. I had tears in my eyes reading your remarks about Freddy. An extremely nice gesture on your part to praise him – so many people in this world do not get the adulation they truly deserve. I am sure Freddy will miss you, but hope that you both stay in contact. Thank you for sharing with us.

Callum Gowar

Thank you very much Leonie. He most certainly deserves all the praise he gets! We will most certainly stay in touch and would love to take him to the US next year to help with some tracking in Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks.

Eulalia Angédu

Quite a heartfelt tribute to Freddy.In life,the people who hold us down are very significant,their smiles when we see them ever time are greatest treasures of hope that we slowly cultivate in our hearts and minds.You are a good friend Callum,Great are those who don’t cut the hands that feed and hold them through difficult and good times.Very sad that you are leaving Londolozi,i will surely miss your pictures and blogs,go and return well. Londolozi is home.

Callum Gowar

Thanks for your message Eulalia! He really has had a significant impact on not only my time at Londolozi but how I perceive myself as a man.

Samantha Hamilton

What a lovely blog. Freddy is without a doubt one of this planets most precious humans. He is so knowledgeable and patient! He has a great sense of humour and keen to pass his knowledge on if you are genuinely interested. He would “test” me every morning and his gentle ways with a cheeky smile would win me over every drive we had! I cant wait to see you soon Freddy- your trainee has been studying!

Callum Gowar

Thank you for your message Sam. That is one of my favorite moments with him when he would take the guests on a tracking test! I will advise him to make the tests a lot more challenging for you! 😉

Vin Beni

Our best wishes to you Callum for this next episode in your life. You and yours will do well–you have the drive!
When we returned to Londolozi for the 3rd time this year, we never anticipated that the visit could ever be better than previous ones. Thanks to the outstanding partnership between you & Freddie-we had the most incredible experience of all. (Wild dogs within the first 15 minutes: surrounded by lions at the airstrip during the last hour.)
Your tribute to Freddie is so well-deserved. He is an outstanding individual and father–gracious, knowledgeable, generous, humble. ( I also share parts of his last name!) He will miss you as you will him. We are grateful to have shared time with both of you!

Callum Gowar

Thanks you so much Vin. It was a pleasure to meet you and I am so glad that we were able to contribute significantly to your stay. I guess there is a lot of pressure on the ranger next time you visit. Take care and all the best!

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