In my four years at Londolozi I have seen a number of rangers say goodbye. I always wondered what it must feel like to leave: the mixture of emotions that must churn inside. The excitement of a new chapter, combined with the daunting realization that your time in this particular paradise is over. A sudden slap back into reality. A bursting of the most wondrous bubble. Well, this time it is I who am the one to be saying goodbye… and believe me it is hard!
What a sensational ride it has been. I have been working here for four years, but in reality this place is a very part of my DNA. My parents first came here in 1976 and, since then, the Bannister family has been intertwined with Londolozi. Whether it be my father sitting beside the camp fire playing guitar, my mother drawing the original road maps back in the 80’s, or my talented brother designing the Christmas trees; this place is a second home, a support team and a stand-in family.
Those of you who have been privileged enough to visit Londolozi will have a taste of the family feeling that I speak of and may have an understanding of the amazing sense of togetherness that envelops this place. You will have an inclination as to what goes on here behind the scenes. Londolozi is not just a luxury game lodge, it stretches far beyond that…it is a lifestyle. There is no doubt that this is a special place on planet earth.
To leave Londolozi was no easy decision, I can promise you that. Change, however, is good and I leave in search of new adventures, challenges and self-growth. I leave with a smile on my face, aiming to journey into the unknown with my head held high. The Londolozi family has been incredibly supportive over the years and has allowed me the space and flexibility to grow, to experiment with ideas and let me guide the way I want to guide.
My job has extended way beyond the realms of merely a guide, and so too has my appreciation extended beyond the bush. It is the layers and the other aspects which warm the heart and make it so rewarding to work for, and so incredibly hard to leave: the touch rugby, the blog, the photography, walking to work, the lunch time banter, the spirit level, the general manager, the red wine, the Spaza, the village, the learning center, the good work foundation, the braais, the mad new years parties, the friends, the waka-waka, the rain, the walks, the STAR, the children, the Christmas soccer match, the gin and tonics, the valentines movies, the birthdays, the cooked breakfasts and the dinners under the stars…
When people ask me why I feel Londolozi is so successful I have a very simple answer: It is a feeling! A feeling that is brought about by the immaculate combination of energetic, caring people and the raw simplicity and truth of nature.
The wilderness heals the soul and gives perspective.
There is no doubt that the wildlife and game viewing at Londolozi is unparalleled anywhere else in Africa and one simply cannot forget the animals. In a place that is world renowned for its leopards it may come as a surprise when I say that it is the lions I shall miss the most. Over the years I have developed a deep respect and understanding of these magnificent creatures. The words ‘friendship’ and ‘respect’ are best suited. They have changed my life. To track and find a pride of wild lions and to view them undisturbed is mind blowing. To be allowed into their day-to-day lives and to be trusted is the most indescribable of feelings. From seeing them giving birth to a litter of cubs (a life form at its most vulnerable) to watching the cubs grow, watching them kill for the first time and witnessing them improve their skills. To be able to watch them kill a buffalo (the ending of a life) and then onto watching them mate. Finally, to watching them carefully select their den-site and deliver into this world the most precious of lives. A complete cycle…now that is REAL!
Just the other day I was backing up the thousands of pictures I have taken over the last four years at Londolozi. I spent hours going through images that captured moments in time forever; memories rushed back. I have been so lucky to call this home and to be allowed to learn a healthy trade and capture so many wonderful pictures. I decided that I would give myself the impossible task of selecting a handful of pictures that would best sum up my four years as a guide at Londolozi. Not necessarily my best photos, but the ones that bring a lump to my throat as I look at them. Pictures that may well provide you all with a snapshot into what it means to be a game ranger at one of the best places in the world.
I want to say thank you to the staff at Londolozi Game Reserve for everything you have done and for all the great times. Memories have been banked away deep in my heart and will be cherished for years to come. I also want to thank the guests whom I have driven over the years… every one of you has made an impression on me and has taught me something new. There are many of you whom I shall stay in touch with and will journey with in this lifetime. And lastly, to the readers of the blog: the platform that allowed me to grow so much in terms of my ability and myself. In the last three and a half years I have written just under 200 pieces. Thank you for taking the time to read what I wrote. Your comments and support have made it all the more special. I am glad that I could convey my interpretations of Mother Natures at work, or should I rather say Mother Nature at play?
I will miss you Londolozi.
I will follow the blog with interest and look forward to watching it, the Londolozi Family and the experience grow and flourish – Adam