You’ve heard of Batman and Superman, even Spiderman.
Now meet Elmon the Ecoman, whose sharp eyes guided us through the wonderland of Londolozi.
My wife Lynn and I hadn’t stayed at Londoz since I was Sky News’ resident Africa Correspondent 17 years ago.
Now we know what we’ve been missing all these years! Super-tracker Elmon Mhlongo and ranger, James Hobson, ensured it was an unforgettable return. Three days of superlative safari.
Like Charlize Theron’s colourist, I’ll just pick out the highlights. Leopards, of course. We’ve been in the bush enough to know what a rare privilege it is to see these amazing predators. But five sightings in three days, all in broad daylight and all of them memorable. That is special!
There was the father who wouldn’t let his daughter get a sniff of his impala, which she’d killed. Boy is she going to have parental abandonment issues when she grows up! He even dragged the devoured and deflated carcass away so she couldn’t get near it. Luckily, we saw her sneak up the bank and snaffle one small filet mignon left behind by mean old dad.
We watched in fascination as a young female leopard patiently stalked a waddle of waterbuck (sorry we got into finding the silliest collective noun for all the game we saw) – only to find they turned and faced her down like a grumpy Boks rugby team staring out an All Black haka. She looked very taken aback.
One morning coffee stop by a waterhole had to be abandoned because a very handsome male had got there first and was watching us with curiosity from atop his termite mound. He then stretched and strolled down to lap up some water just feet in front of us.
What great sights we saw – wallowing rhino, waddling muddy hippos, a green-backed heron giving a frog a severe headache, large herds of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra.
We hardly dared to breathe for half an hour as we watched three female lions stealthily track a kudu only to be outwitted just yards from their breakfast.
Then there were the babies. A delightful young family of elephants playing in the riverbed below our deck in Pioneer, lion cubs resting on ball of elephant dung (cuter than it sounds) and sweet little hyena pups peering out of their den. Lynn’s thinking of launching a re-branding campaign for hyenas. We love them. But she thinks they get a really bad rap, almost certainly down to The Lion King’s villainous portrayal of hyenas as Scar’s scheming chums.
As for the night drives, hawk-eyed Elmon spotted us a marvellous view of a genet lying along a branch, as well picking out of the darkness a boomslang and several chameleons hiding in the trees.
Anyway that’s all the Breaking Gnus from me.
We had a brilliant time and we’ll be back.
In fact, after enjoying around 100 safaris across Africa over the last 20 years, Lynn and I reckon those three days at Londolozi was one of our greatest ever bush experiences.
Thanks to all of you for making it so memorable.
Written by: Jeremy Thompson (Londolozi Guest)