Solly, buti, what can I say. I can hardly believe it. Especially because I have not yet felt your absence around the camp. I have not yet arrived in the car park of tree camp on a winter’s morning and noticed that suddenly you are not there. I remember those mornings, you smiling and alert, always alert, rubbing zambuk on your lips. But those moments will come and I will grieve you then too. Like I grieve you now from Cape Town .
Man, we had some times together. We would go anywhere. Into deep bush with tracks of lionesses and their cubs all around on the dry earth. I always felt like with you everything was okay. You knew your craft so well. Your were so sharp. I had a game that I played in my own mind. Walking I would try and see things before you. You were miles ahead on points.
Solly I remember the day you came into a river to save me from a crocodile. It was such a big deal to me and it was just who you were. You never even talked to me about it much, only made jokes and told me I owed you a shirt because you had used yours to bandage my bleeding leg. This is just how you were, understated. You were just so damn brave by nature.
Everywhere you went you served people in your kind and openhearted way. I used to say you were pathologically helpful. But in serving, you always led. You taught, you guided, you reprimanded, and you entertained. You were a hero to so many, me in particular.
Solly we had our last few drives together just a few weeks ago. We tracked those lions on Old Dam Road. The whole Tracker Academy was walking around with not a clue. You grabbed a hold of that situation and gave a master class in following cats. We were wide eyed. You were like a hunting dog on those tracks, moving fast, all that vitality flowing out of you. You just committed to the impossible so easily and with such confidence. Forty minutes and we were sitting with the pride.
All over the world people are writing in. We cant believe it. Your hero status was international my friend. You became that hero through the sheer force of your heart, your humility and your simple care.
I believed that death could not touch a spirit like you. But it did. What are tracks like in heaven my friend? I bet it’s all soft sand. I will miss you but I will always feel you walking with me and ask for your thoughts as I pick my way through the quiet game paths and dry riverbeds. I will always listen the way you taught me to and when I find a leopard in the cool pink light of the evening, I will see you smiling that knowing smile from the back seat.
Written by: Boyd Varty
Solly- teacher, father and great great friend – you will never be forgotten
The Londolozi family
Filed under Life
Thank you Boyd for the wonderful and true words of Solly. He was such a wonderful man. We miss him
so much and will always remember him with greatfulness. Elisabeth and Gustaf Douglas
What a sad, sad loss. Sol will be missed by so many. His beaming smile, his great big bear hugs, his booming voice, his gentle nature, his incredible knowledge. To our family, Solly epitomised everything that was wonderful about Londolozi. We will so, so miss you Solly. Rest in Peace my friend. Carter family
A beautiful tribute to a King of a Man.
Deepest sympathy to Solly’s family and all his friends at Londolozi.
How privileged you have all been to have been touched by this Giant Soul.
A fitting tribute to a legend…
Beautifully written Boyd. Solly would have been so proud. Brings back so many memories.
This sounds like a true human being sadly missed by all who knew him, I am the poorer for not knowing Solly, I too lost my husband many years ago, truthfully tho he remains in my heart as Solly will for all who knew & loved him. sk
Boyd, I have never been to Londolozi, never met Solly, but what a beautiful tribute to a giant of a man. You will miss him terribly, but with that courageous spirit, he will live on for years to come and protect you all.
Sorry to hear of the loss of Solly, and a loss of a great friend to Londolozi.
What better tribute to a man than to be remembered as being a great teacher and sharing his gifts to the world. His journey her is over, but his legacy lives on. Peace to to you all.
We were fortunate enough to spend a few days with Adam and Solly last August. We had the time of our lives, and a big part of that was watching Solly work. He seemed to have no equal out in the bush, and his skill and direction made it possible for us to see so many wonderful things, and bring back so many fond memories.
Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
We shall always remember him with a smile in our hearts.
my husband Howard and I were fortunate enough to visit Londolozi in Sept 2010 and to get to know Solly and Adam. How shocked and saddened we are to hear this news. I am heartened by the love Solly showed to so many, and to the love coming back to him, to his Londolozi family and beyond. I don’t know if his family is connected via social media, but I do hope they see these tributes; perhaps in some small way the thoughts and remembrances of many whose lives Solly touched may help to comfort them in their grief.
Deepest sympathies to Solly’s families – Not a day passes without my thoughts going to Africa, the people, the wildlife and the teachers and guides who show us their world.
A moving tribute to a Londolozi Legend. My thoughts and prayers with all those who were Solly’s family and friends, who knew him and loved him…
A wonderful tribute Boyd to a very special human being.
Beautifully written and so fitting for such a splendid man. Thank you Boyd. He will indeed be missed terribly, however, we take his teachings with us each day in the bush and will always know the angels are going to become Master Trackers.
This man taught me so much. Everything I knew about the bush. He allowed me to grow in confidence and allowed me to connect to the earth. He loved me to take the credit and limelight when in fact it was him and his presence which was the very backbone of our safari experience. He was so understated and yet so present. His smile was glorious. Solly – our connection way surpassed a normal friendship…we could have entire conversations without ever saying a word. He was an impeccable gentleman and one of my best friends. It was an honour to call him a teammate and to work together. We spent countless hours sitting side by side and like Boy my favourite memories are of the walking and tracking. He really was gifted. Thank you Boyd for your words. Solly, my friend, I will miss you more than you will ever know. You made my time at Londolozi all that more amazing. Thank you.
Beautifully said, Boyd. Solly was a lovely man, and such a core part of the Londolozi family. We will all miss him and continue to think of him often. Please convey our sympathy to the entire staff at Londolozi.
Thank you for posting! I have visited Londolozi only twice but was fortunate to go on over 20 drives with Solly. You captured his demeanor so eloquently when you said he was understated and an international hero. To understand his tracking ability is a sight to be seen. What seemed impossible was possible and magical with Solly. His smile and laughter his tales of the bush will always be remembered.
A beautiful tribute Boyd – your pain must be immense! We are grateful that Daniel had the privilege of working with him as his tracker this last while – he has been privileged to have connected with such a great man. RIP Solly
He must have been an amazing person. Love and peace to all his family and friends.
generous and gracious with both his time and knowledge, enthusiastic and passionate about his craft, embracing and warm with those who had the delight and privelage of walking with him at their side…a special man indeed and a fitting loving tribute…bye bye Solly…we will miss you
Sal and Eugen
Solly was our tracker at Londolozi last year and we will never forget his spirit, kindness, patience and advise… never trust the water. He was always there when needed. A modest man with a very big heart. We will never forget you and the joy you brought to our lives.
Such a great man and such a massive loss.
Our love and thoughts go out to the Londolozi family.
I cannot believe what I am reading ………. we last visited Londolozi for Claudia’s birthday, and for Martin meeting Solly was an incredible time. We were all so emotional saying our goodbyes……
Solly was a great soul and will be sorely missed. We’re thinking of you all and sending our love and condolences to both Solly’s family and the Varty/Londolozi families.
A very sad loss. He will not be forgotten!
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Londolozi family.
Michael, Terri, Max and Mikayla Klauber
Love to all the Londolozi family suffering the loss of this marvelous, kind man. Beautiful tribute, Boyd.
I have never met Solly, nor visited Londolozi – and never have I been so touched by a memoir of one who I would have love to have known.
To those who knew him, I admire you, for true treasure is made of not what you have, but who you are.
Such a profound man will surely live on for many years to come and in many hearts.
Solly – what an incredible man you were.
Solly tracks in a special part of Heaven
I send my deepest respect! The portrait of Sol here is a beautiful tribute to his life and gifts. He lives on so vividly with so many people around the world. He made life richer for us.
I am shocked. I had the pleasure to meet him and Adam last year as guest of Pioneer Camp.
I got to know him very little, but he was always friendly and helpful without any attitude.
When he drove me back for leaving the camp from Londlozi Airfield he made a detour just to show me the female lions with its cubs. I will remember him as the quiet one sitting on the front and searching for animals with such a brilliant eyesight I never understood.
Rest in Peace Solly
Armin from Germany
Rest in peace Solly,
Condolences to your family , friends, and Londolozi
What an honour to have been acquainted to one of the great Leopards of Londolozi; what an honour to have his indelible tracks laid along our paths. Deepest condolences to the Londolozi family.
I never had the privilege of meeting Solly and yet tears fill my eyes and I feel the loss of such a special man, what a beautiful heart felt tribute.
A moment…that’s how long it takes for 1 person to make a lasting impression. We met Solly for a moment at Londolozi with Richie and John. They were as family to each other and spoke a quiet language in hushed tones and hand gestures we could only try to understand. Ultimately, we saw what they always new was there….amazing what 1 quiet moment teaches you about communication.
God speed and condolences to the entire family.
We were with Daniel and Solly just over a week ago. We thought that they were both wonderful.
We are wondering what happened.
Lynne and Dan Van Engel
Wilderness Travel Tour
Just over a week ago we were walking and driving in the bush with Daniel and Solly. He left an incredible impression on our group, with his knowledge, his passion, his sense of humour. I have had messages from all of them from various parts of the USA and Canada – messages of appreciation for the value he added to their trip. Our association was for a few days but we will all remember him for our lifetime. Condolences to his family and the Londolozi family. Frank Dwyer, group leader, Wilderness Travel & Call of Africa
My family and I came a to Londolozi a few years ago and had the immense pleasure of being looked after by Solly ‘Ingwe’ and Simon Bellingham. Just last week I told my husband that one day I would take him to Londolozi and we would go around with Solly, the legendary tracker, the leopard man, my friend. The man changed me in the short time I knew him, he infected me with his love for leopards and his passion for wildlife. He was the man who proved to me that within sixty minutes of being in Londonlozi you could see not just 1 leopard but 2 and watch them make a kill. I remember watching him gently reprimand a young elephant and when you saw him up in that tracker seat, you knew here was a man who was one with nature. Solly you taught me so much, how to see the little things, to notice the unseen, you taught me that birds can be just as interesting as lions because everything has its own place in this world and that patience is the greatest reward in the wild. You inspire me to always give back to nature as it gives to us.
We will miss you Solly and while I wish my husband could have met you, I will still come back to Londolozi and know that you live on in my memories, in Londolozi and in the ‘Ingwe’ you have helped protect. You will always be in our hearts.
Jahanavi Bhaskar Laag, Vedika Bhaskar, Adita Bhaskar & Sanjay Bhaskar
and so it is that after so little time together you join the ranks of those good friends who have made me laugh and cry! I hope you have an enjoyable journey and thanks for your guidance in this one! Thanks Solly
My sincere condolences to family and friends. A great loss for the Londolozi family. As I have read the above, you were a great person. Thank you very much. Rest in Peace Solly.
Rest in peace Solly. My condolences to his family, friends and to the Londolozi family.
Very moving words Boyd. Solly was a big loss, you must feel very priviledged to have been mentored by him. Our thoughts and love are with the Londolozi family.
Hi Boyd & All at Londolozi,
Allthough I have never had interaction with Solly, he was always the very smiling face when I saw him on my various visits to Londolozi. What a fitting tribute to your mentor Boyd!
We ask God to be with his family at this time, and my condolonces to them and to you all at Londolozi.
A very sad loss!
As part of a recent small Wilderness Travel group at Founders Camp, my husband Frank and I had our sixth game drive with Solly and Daniel Sunday morning April the 28th, before we sadly left to return to Canada. What an honour and privilege to have our first meeting with a tracker be Solly. How professional he was in what turned out to be his final days. How shocking to us that this amazing and strong man could be taken so quickly. Our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and admirers.
To Boyd, the Varty family and the entire family at Londolozi,
I’ve only known Solly through the stories and pictures that many of you have shared with us during our stays at Londolozi. Your love for this amazing man shown through then, and continues to shine now. May the memories of this incredible man and all he’s meant to you all continue to shine on you and leave you peace. All our love, The Westphal Family
We send all our love to all at Londolozi. What a void there must be, our encounters with Solly were truly memorable; amazing tracking, walks in the bush and incredible patience with the children’s many questions. We are thinking of you all, and especially Solly’s wife and family during this very difficult time. We will miss you, Solly!
Solly-man. You are an inspiration, particularly because You do not seek it. You are a guide in so many ways, particularly because You do not know it half the time. You are a true gentle man as well as a gentleman in so many ways, particularly because You make no effort, no biggie You would say. You are such a sharing soul, all natural.
It was a honour sharing some time with You!
Hallelujah and Cool Bananas, Brother!
Thinking of you all at Londolozi and Solly’s family – beautifully written Boyd! So sorry for your loss.
We had the privilege of having Solly as our tracker during our visit to Londolozi in Sept 2011. No words can describe the sadness we feel by hearing the news of the loss of this incredible man. The knowledge and passion he brought to the bush everyday was inspirational. Thinking of you all.
Wonderful tribute Boyd
Condolences to the family and Londos family.
Never forgotten by so many who met him. I do believe the tracks in heaven will be in soft sand for this remarkable man.