There was a time when Londolozi’s only ranger was a lanky 19 year old with a wispy 60’s mustache and a torn pair of khakis. This young reprobate fell into guiding by chance, knew only ten birds and five tree names that he would recite with such confidence that guests would be blown away by his enormous breadth of knowledge.
He could drop a landy gearbox onto his knees and service it in fifteen minutes, returning minutes later, unfluffed, to take an afternoon game drive.
Having grown up hunting big game he seemed to have an almost preternatural sense of big cat movement combined with almost no concept of direction, often finding himself temporarily uncertain of his whereabouts or put more plainly LOST ! Guest described his game drive game drive as a wilderness experience with a Dakar rally ambiance.
He once did the whole safari in reverse after the gear stick of the 1959 ‘109’ Landy broke exiting a lion sighting in a hurry. Story’s of “great safari man” spread from the Sand River to the Serengeti, wherever men tracked rhino and campfire smoke clouded the whiskey filled night air.
He had a reputation for burning chairs to create a “vibe” in the boma. And he once threw a pineapple at a guest holding a spade during an impromptu cricket match late one evening.
His career would take him all over Africa and then later the world. He would forward the cause of nature wherever he went. But what would never change was his love for finding animals at Londolozi and his consistent abilty to get lost, falling into a hole or calling for tow rope back up. His game drives remain unconventional, brilliant and at times scary.
The man who once tripped over a leopard he was tracking is our Dave Varty, but we still call him GREAT SAFARI MAN and these are the pictures taken from his private portfolio collection