In the village of Londolozi, Christmas means that our landscapes are filled with new life and blessed with summer rains to restore a thirsty land. Christmas is also a time for reflection on the year that has been and a chance to witness the endless ebb and flow of the greater Londolozi family: babies, birthdays, bushveld celebrations and banquets, surrounded by lions, leopards and lizards, all basking in the arms of nature.

The Tamboti female leopard glances back at a group of guests watching from a vehicle nearby. 2017 offered another incredible year of leopard viewing and as such, Londolozi continues to be one of the best places in the world to track and learn about these fascinating cats.

bush dinner

Guests enjoy an evening around a fire on the banks of the Sand River. A private bush dinner under the African night sky is just one of the magical experiences to be had here.

Lwandisa Khosa and James Laburn make a break for the camera in the Londolozi staff village. The children of Londolozi are a fundamental element of what makes this community a family.

During 2017 we have been honoured to welcome to our camps on the banks of the Sand River, more guests from more countries than ever before. Indeed, it was during 2017 that South Africa was identified as one of the top 10 most safe and attractive destinations in the world. This sentiment is being reflected by unprecedented growth in travelers from many emerging nations to our shores. Added to this we are witnessing a growing number of South Africans with aspirations to discover their own country, meaning that tourism and hospitality are once again finding their rightful place at the center of society, with South Africa emerging as one of the globe’s friendliest nations.

Andrea Sithole and Sersant Sibuyi on safari with their guests. Out here, every moment offers the opportunity for adventure.

A guest looks out over the Sand River, flowing below the Varty Camp deck. Standing where the early pioneers did in 1926, it is incredible to reminisce about Londolozi’s journey thus far.

Guests enjoy a family-style lunch on the Tree Camp deck amongst the ancient Jackalberry trees. Comfort, service excellence, simply sophisticated dining and connection all add to a wild Londolozi experience.

This growth in the number of visitors to our country means that Londolozi continues to find itself as a pathfinder for change and the creation of new opportunities in this growing and vibrant industry. Since our humble beginnings four decades ago, we have always been at the forefront of outward creative conservation. This has always been in the knowledge that expanding the amount of land under wildlife best serves the needs of the people who live in the rural parts of our country. Indeed over the years we have borne witness to many such projects and can with pride look back on the demonstrable benefits, both social and economic, which these projects have bought to the people of our region. It will, therefore, not come as a surprise to our long-standing friends and guests that, once again, Londolozi finds itself as a catalyst for new possibilities! We set an intention nearly ten years ago for a Kruger-to-Canyon corridor, and we see the very real chance of it coming to fruition in the next few years. The aim is to connect the Blyde River Canyon (the largest ‘green canyon’ in the world, due to its subtropical vegetation) to the Limpopo Transfrontier Peace Park as one contiguous landscape, allowing the free movement of wildlife from the bushlands to the mountains. Londolozi is a conservation vision lived for 91 years now and will continue long into future.

A photograph of the land art piece created by Simon Bannister nearly ten years ago, signifying our intention for the creation of this elephant corridor. It is therefore with great joy and excitement that we see this project taking some real steps to its formation. This art piece faces west towards the Drakensberg mountain range where we hope that elephants will be able to roam free again.

As part of this grand vision, the Good Work Foundation (of which Londolozi was the founding patron) will be in support of establishing many satellite learning centers at strategic locations along the proposed corridors, thereby providing access to world-class education for the thousands of learners who live in the villages adjacent to the proposed corridors. Indeed, during 2017, the first such pilot project was commissioned in the village of Justicia and already over 1000 students are in attendance. The Good Work Foundation, in partnership with many of the lodges in the Sabi Sands, has co-created a vision that by 2020 they will reach every student living in the villages adjacent to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, estimated to be in excess of 26 000 learners, all of whom will have access to world-class digital education.

GWF, Good work Foundation, map, digital learner campus

A map indicating the impact of the four current Good Work Foundation digital learning centers as well as two proposed learning centers on the communities surrounding the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The hope is that all six will be fully operational by 2020, ultimately giving 26 500 rural learners access to world-class digital education.

GWF, Justicia digital learner campus

One of the pre-school learners at the GWF Justicia Digital Learning Campus enjoys some wonder-filled learning on his electronic tablet. With trained and enthusiastic facilitators managing each table, children are given the opportunity to have lots of fun whilst gaining valuable literacy skills.

GWF, justicia digital learner campus

GWF facilitators and learners photographed outside the Justicia Digital Learning Campus. It seems every day offers a reason for celebration when it comes to the GWF.

It is therefore with a degree of satisfaction and joy back home that the Londolozi family is able to continue to be of service, whilst embracing a new way of being in the world. We were privileged, during 2017, to bear witness to the many returning guests as they discovered their own transition towards a new way of being present in nature. We trust that as this new trend gathers momentum, we may see many more of you back at Londolozi in the coming year. For now though, we extend to all our friends around the world best wishes for harmony and connection over the festive season and for peace around the world during 2018.

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Dave Varty

Co-Founder/Owner

Dave's story is too full and rich to tell in a brief blog bio. Suffice it to say that it is due to his passion, hard work and lifelong dedication to conservation that Londolozi is what it is today. One of the co-founders ...

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9 Comments

on Dave Varty’s Yearly Roundup 2017

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Marinda Drake

Wonderful work done by the GWF. Education is key. It is lovely to see that more South Africans are experiencing our beautiful country and the wild places.

Dawn Phillips

I have such great respect for Londolozi and their team. It is so much more than just a (fantastic) vacation destination – but a philosophy, a goal for the betterment of the people, animals and environment of SA and a vision into what a harmonious reality looks like for the earth. Can’t wait to return.

Callum Evans

Loved reading that roundup!! Really great to hear that the Kruger to Canyons Corridor is closer to reality, would be incredible if wildlife could once again migrate between the lowveld and the highlands! Are there are certain areas that have been identified for inclusion in the network?

Jeff Rodgers

Thank you Dave for a great overview of 2017. The great work you describe . . . plus a lot more . . . is the reason that Vivian and I continue to return to Londolozi every year.

Ian Hall

I think that staying at Londolozi coupled with the sympathetic guiding was the best experience I have had in Africa.

Lisa Hilger

One man, one family, one group of people sharing a vision becomes powerful enough to change the world. Inspiration and hope. We look forward to experiencing the spirit of Londolozi first hand in 2018 and continuing to support GWF.

Denise Vouri

Bravo Londolozi for taking the lead in not only animal conservation but also to the development of young minds. Our future is going to be determined by these young adults, consequently all learning tools available will justify the means. I look forward to visiting your amazing Reserve in the not too distant future but in the meantime, cheers to a very happy holiday season.

Lucie Easley

I loved your book and wanted to know more about you and Londolozi. That brought me to your blog which I am enjoying very much. I hope all your continuing efforts for wildlife and people will have great success in the new year.

Mary Beth Wheeler

We love your vision for the future, Dave, both in conservation and education. That vision and your enthusiasm permeate the Londolozi environment, making it the special place it is. While the journey from San Francisco is a long one, we so look forward to our visits and will see you again in 2018. Happy Holidays to the whole Londolozi family!

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