Since I arrived at Londolozi Game Reserve I have begun to grasp the threads of how, when and why the Londolozi tapestry has such a colourful reputation on the global Safari stage. It has only been two weeks since my arrival but already as a new Londolozi staff member and ranger-in-training my introduction has been way more than I expected.

In anticipation of the softs refurbishment of Varty and Granite Camps, I was thrown into the deep end with just about the entire staff body as we banded together in an incredible effort to wrap up countless items and move the contents.  Everybody except the resident chacma baboons and vervet monkeys – who sat back idly watching from the shade – contributed willingly to the overall objective.

Next, through a seven day induction program, I slowly began to understand how each department from housekeeping to maintenance functions on a daily basis and met a host of new and friendly people who are responsible for ensuring that daily operations are as fluid and flexible as possible. Learning how each department communicates with each other, facilitating the consistent and professional delivery of the perfect safari experience from five independent camps was, something of an eyeopener.

Another thrill for me was participating in the annual staff Christmas Party. Earlier on in the afternoon the tempo was set when a disciplined Londolozi Leopards team defeated the Hyenas during an eventful soccer match.

The Christmas Soccer game was rougher than I anticipated!

That evening I witnessed my new boss and conservation icon, Dave Varty, give away prizes and express his gratitude to the Londolozi team for a job well done in 2017. A charismatic Duncan Maclarty, Londolozi’s General Manager, was in control of the mic and introduced further proceedings including a ‘best dressed’ contest where spectators shouted their approval at different contestants. The spirit, theatre and energy of the jungle-themed occasion was almost tangible. My personal highlight was watching as over two hundred people roared with laughter when a few brave souls battled it out in a dance competition for a different prize only to have it swept from under their feet by a one-and-a-half year old!

Dave Varty delivers a speech to the Londolozi Staff.

Throughout the two weeks I have also had my fair share of ranger-ing. I assisted Kim Drake, Londolozi’s procurement and control manager, with the removal of a monitor lizard from her dry stores, aided fellow rangers in the capture and translocation of two snakes of the spitting variety on separate occasions and participated in the most competitive and frantic birding game drive I’ve ever been a part of. Eight rangers in the same vehicle split into two teams and were awarded points for the successful identification of a bird species and were deducted points for a misidentification of a species. Once a call was made the opposing team could challenge that call and on it went until dusk concluded the game and the final tally was announced.

TWIP

Birding – serious business at Londolozi!

Early one morning I also had the dubious pleasure of helping Head Ranger Talley Smith drag a half-eaten impala carcass from behind the Founders camp main area out into the Sand River. One of the night patrolmen unravelled the mystery and regaled the events of the previous night when he described how the leopard caught and killed the impala close to the camp. Once its dinner was secured the leopard then had an argument with an opportunistic spotted hyena that was intent on robbing him of the kill. A fight ensued which ended in neither side claiming the carcass as it became wedged behind a wall where it was found by a camp manager on her way to the morning yoga class.

From the service ethic, energy, warmth and authenticity of the staff to the wild and varied landscape and its inhabitants, it is easy to relate to Amy Attenborough’s final blog tribute when she described eleven of the most profound aspects of her Londolozi tenure. Having now seen the Londolozi Leadwood forests for myself I long to stroll along a game trail that winds through these ancient trees and of course, to qualify and be a part of this amazing Londolozi tribe.

Filed under Life Occasions

About the Author

Paul Danckwerts

Ranger

Zambian-born, Paul grew up a fisherman, a birder and a lover of all things outdoors. Following his passion for wildlife he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Rhodes University before heading for the lowveld. Paul boasts a number of years guiding ...

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19 Comments

on Londolozi: A New Ranger’s First Impressions

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Al Kaiser

Welcome Paul. Thanks for the ride from Skukuza!

Paul Danckwerts

You are very welcome Al! See you around camp.

Marinda Drake

Lovely blog Paul. Londolozi is indeed a special place. Looking forward to many more of your blogs.

Paul Danckwerts

Thank you Marinda. I am looking forward to contributing more blogs entries.

Denise Vouri

Sounds like you’re off to a great start on a new adventure. Enjoy!!

Jeff Rodgers

Welcome to the wonder that is Londolozi. I look forward to our eighth visit in a few weeks.

Henry Smith

Nice post, Paul! I love posts that describe daily life around Londolozi – stuff that we don’t see when we are enjoying all the wonderful game viewing and sumptuous hospitality. Can’t wait for our next visit!

Paul Danckwerts

Thank you very much Henry! I have a few more ideas that i’m working on relating to daily Londolozi life. Watch this space.

Callum Evans

I’d have loved to have gone on the birding game drive!!

Joanne Wadsworth

Welcome Paul to a wonderful journey of a lifetime!

Susan Strauss

Welcome Paul! I look forward to meeting you in person on my next visit in April.

Paul Danckwerts

Thank you Susan! We look forward to welcoming you back to the magic that is Londolozi.

Lisa Hilger

Tell us more about the refurbishment of Varty and Granite!!

Wendy Macnicol

Welcome Paul! It will be a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for your first impressions. They made interesting reading! We are pensioners in our 80’s and so won’t make it to Londolozi except through our daily articles we are being sent – but we feel we have actually been there and got to know the animals and the people – and a very interesting bunch they all are! We are sure you will be kept interested and happy! All the best. Wendy and Neil MacNicol

Paul Danckwerts

Thank you Wendy and Neil for your kind words!

Byron Ross

Welcome to Londolozi Paul. Please send regards to Andrew when next you see him and enjoy every minute.

Paul Danckwerts

Thank you Byron! I will do.

Michael & Terri Klauber

Welcome to the team Paul! We loved reading your first impressions. Londolozi is a magical place in so many ways! We look forward to meeting you on our next visit!

Amanda Ritchie

Beautiful post, Paul. Thanks for sharing your opening thoughts. We are happy to have you as part of the Londolozi Family!

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