When people come and interact with our Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, they often say “WOW! You must have the best job in the world”. I mean what could possibly be better than swimming and SCUBA diving with dolphins for a living?
My partner Richard and myself have been visiting the bush every year since leaving South Africa back in 2008. An opportunity to work with dolphins abroad was simply too good to refuse and we launched ourselves into the adventure with great enthusiasm. The downside of living far from the African Bush is that you miss it with an intensity that can simply not be described.
Africa gets under your skin; her warmth imbues ones soul with a zest for life and etches an indelible mark in your heart. From the time we left our beloved Africa, we have been searching for our home from home and over the years have stayed at many of the lodges in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. We were convinced we had found this home until we received the news that our favourite lodge was undergoing a complete renovation and would be closed during our annual vacation.
Determined to find a suitable alternative, we decided to throw caution to the wind and stretch our budget in order to book four nights at Londolozi. From the moment we stepped foot on Londolozi soil we knew that we were home. There really are no words that are capable of communicating the magical essence that encapsulates this special place. From the genuine warmth and love being exuded by everyone at the lodge to the spectacular sightings of wildlife, we were completely overwhelmed and blown away.
Richard and I are complete opposites and our guide Simon and tracker Foster had to balance a voracious appetite for leopard with an obsessive-compulsive bird freak (who was also partial to these rosette cats). I had recently purchased my first DSLR and Simon was incredibly patient and helpful in ensuring I understood the settings and allowed time for me to fiddle in order to get some beautiful photos. Leopard highlights included an unknown male being diligently pursued by the Mashaba female, the daughter of Mashaba as well as the Marthly and Piva Males. Fortuitously we had a couple of cracking bird sightings of which the highlights included; dwarf bittern, black coucal and a great spotted cuckoo harassing its glossy starling mom for some grub. All in all an absolute triumph!
Thankfully January appears to be a slower time of year to visit the bush and as a result we were able to spend as long as we wanted at some of the sightings. Sitting patiently observing the behaviour of the animals, noticing the smaller things and simply stopping to breathe in the magnificence of Mama Africa, enabled a grounding effect to take place. Balance, gratitude, faith, courage, grace, joy, strength, life and love are but a few of the things that floods ones senses and the result may only be described as the Londolozi effect – an intangible and magical experience that defies all known dictionaries.
Our time with the Londolozi team made us realise that perhaps there is an even better Best job in the World… and that is being a part of the Londolozi family. We are both filled with gratitude that we have found our home in the bush and have already booked for January 2016.
Written and Photographed by: Sean de la Harpe-Parker