The landing strip: the happiest and saddest place on Londolozi. It is where dreams begin and journeys are started. It is also where hearts are broken and desperation sets in.
My journey began in March 2012 when I visited Londolozi on my honeymoon. I set out just to “take pictures of animals” and as an amateur photographer this trip was a dream. Wild animals posing for thousands of pictures sounded like it was right up my alley… what I didn’t realize was that viewing the “Big 5” wasn’t actually being able to see the rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant.
The “Big 5” of Londolozi is actually its heritage and the way family is promoted; its soul and the insane ability it has to invade your soul until it is forever changed; its joy that you can experience every time you turn a corner, in a song from the women’s choir or in an evening in a BOMA; its love in which you can see when you taste their food, talk to their staff, and especially when you witness their conservation effort to ensure the land and its animals will be there to view for generations to come; and most of all its people and the love and knowledge they impart on you – to make you want to be a better person, to make you want to change the world, to make you want to return. When I left in tears 17 months ago, I vowed to return. And return I did.
I knew I couldn’t stay away long. After all, visiting Londolozi was the happiest I’d ever been in my life. And with life being so unexpected and short, I returned to the place where my mind was most at peace, my body felt most in tune to the earth that holds us and where my heart totally “melts into wonder”1.
This short blog is my ode to the Londolozi staff. They have forever changed me. My life is sweeter knowing them and I’m eternally grateful for the way they’ve shaped my life by inviting me into theirs.
So on the landing strip this past Saturday, with tears in my eyes and the sound of my heart breaking over the plane’s propellers, I made another vow to return again soon.
Now the desperation sets in, the desperation sets in…
Written and Photographed by Londolozi guest, Kristine Dong
Filed under Guests Leopards Photography Wildlife
I had the honor of traveling to Londolozi with Kristine on this, her second journey. I too have fallen in love with the people and the animals. I too, want to come back.
Hopefully you will make it back before to long.
Thank you for this post … my family and I have shed an ocean of tears as we’ve waved goodbye to our Londolozi family. The magical sense of connection to the people and the place has changed us … has become a part of our daily conversation … we count the days until our next visit … home.
Well Kristine, you can say thank you to being able to “fly-in” because that is what the Bush does to you, it gets into your very soul, your pores and trust me the smell of the bush is something I wish that I could have a “whiff” of as it is 4yrs since I was in the Kruger NP and miss it like crazy! Just keep the dream alive & you and your husband will be touching down again! Happy Dreaming 🙂
You have put into words what most can only feel.. I am waiting to have my heart broken and my life forever changed.
Thank you Ms Dong for sharing.
Kristine. We know exactly how you feel. We shed a tear when we last departed Londolozi and like you, vowed to return. Next May we will return. Londolozi is the most special place we have ever visited.
Your first paragraph captured my heart and it only got better from there … like you were reading my mind. A beautiful reflection Kristine. Through tears of joy and sorrow, I got on that plane in June of last year knowing my return will be soon.
Thank you Kristine for the beautiful pics’s and story, what you said is so true…Londolozi is a very special place in this world. and I so wish I could go back one day, hopefully I will be able to.
BEAUTIFUL and TY for SHARING!!!!!!
The countdown clock on my pc says: 77 days…7 hours…52 minutes till I leave Honolulu for Londolozi. So far away but those 30+ travel hours each way are worth it. First at Londolozi in the 80s when we lived in South Africa. Took 25 years to return in 2010 but am not about to be there for the 3rd time. Keep thinking I’ll find the pieces of my heart left there but, no, I just keep leaving more pieces. Londolozi is so very special in all ways.
So glad I’m not the only one that felt that way about saying goodbye on Saturday afternoon. It was my first visit – a dream come true in itself – and I can still well up now thinking about it!
You have so eloquently put into words what I feel about Londolozi. In a way, my journey is the opposite of yours- I visited Londolozi this summer to help heal my soul after a heartbreaking divorce- but the connection and emotions I felt mirror yours. It was a privilege to be there and I am fervently hoping I can return soon.