Six amazing trips to Africa, four of them to Londolozi, Sabi Sands; South Africa. Why would I keep going back to the same country and the same reserve you might ask? Londolozi, the Zulu word for “The Protector of All Living things,” is a magical destination filled with wildlife and people unlike anywhere I have been or anyone I have met before. As I write this I realize that I must make sure to complete this article before my next trip back! Yes, trip number five is already booked for September 2015.
Traveling as a single woman for six years to foreign lands has been very exciting for many reasons. I have some tips that I share at the end of my blog to give you a better understanding of some of the things to remember as well as the many perks of travelling on your own. One of the reasons I enjoy Londolozi is that you are offered the choice of simply enjoying time alone, should you wish, or the company of the many wonderful staff members – guides like Trevor, Camp Managers like Graeme and Tayla and other staff members like Kate from the Londolozi Creative Hub... Each time I leave I feel like I have made friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
My goal is to pack as much life and adventure into my two weeks on holiday, see the Big Five, enjoy the little creatures, see the Tsalala pride, the Majingilane coalition of male lions and see more of the leopards that Londolozi is so famous for.
If you travel by small private plane onto the airstrip you might not even have to wait to begin your safari to catch a glimpse of your first sighting of one of the animals, just off the runway before the wheels of your plane touch down. Greeted by your Londolozi guide you realize it just keeps getting better. You are swept away in an open-air Land Rover to your camp not too far off. On your arrival hands wave in the air and friendly faces wait to greet you with cool washcloths and a refreshing local drink.
Once at your camp, you are oriented to the schedule and map of the camp and given a tour of your home for the next however many days you are able to stay. I would recommend staying at least a week – I have stayed even longer. The Camp Manager introduces you to your room. The location of all the necessities are pointed out – mini bar, plunge pool, outdoor shower. You can’t help but feel like you have come home and never want to leave. They make sure to explain to you how important it is to latch your doors… the local resident vervet monkeys and baboons have become quite crafty at breaking and entering. But do not fear, these creatures are more scared of you than you are of them. As your Camp Manager leaves you alone for the first time in your amazing suite, it starts to sink in… I myself do the happy dance as my jaw drops each time in amazement, not believing I am fortunate enough to travel to such an enchanting place.
Whether you are standing on your own private deck or sitting on the deck of the beautiful A-frame Varty Camp deck your view will be breathtaking. If you happen to select accommodations with a plunge pool, an outdoor shower and a view of the river you are in for a treat. Almost every afternoon between morning drive and lunch, a herd of elephants parade through the riverbed across the granite rocks, some stopping to feed on leaves just outside your suite. Dinners around the boma, the outside dining area, or out in the bush along with sundowners (cocktails as the sun sets) in a remote location of the bush, listening to the sounds of animals in the distance, is another favourite time of day.
The staff from Camp Managers to Rangers and Butlers all treat you like family and amazingly call you by name. The true fun begins on your first afternoon drive. You begin to become aware of just how important your guide and tracker are. Their brilliance and relationship are key to a successful and enjoyable safari drive. Their knowledge is endless. They are excited to answer the questions from personal stories of adventures to the mating rituals of the lions. Londolozi is well known for their leopards and lions. The lineage and territories are documented and weekly updates are posted on the Londolozi blog to keep you informed of the leopard and lion activities.
From my enthusiasm about Londolozi, I am sure it has become clear as to why I keep returning to this wonderful place. I hope this will give you a better idea of what to expect and how to make the most of your time – whether you go alone or travel with a partner or family, there is something here for everyone.
Irene’s Tips for Single Travellers:
1. Just do it….so you are traveling alone believe me you will be glad when you get there – there are always pros and cons and while Londolozi is a great place for families and honeymoon couples, getting a massage, doing yoga on the pool deck at noon, retiring to your suite whenever you like, swimming in your plunge pool or skinny dipping solo are just some of the fun activities to enjoy….
2. Pack wise and lightly – laundry is done daily and returned to your room that same day folded neatly on your bed
3. Keep a journal to accompany your photos – I would recommend renting a camera and lens from the Londolozi Creative Hub.
4.Keep organised make sure you have all your documents, travel vouchers, passport and a copy of your passport in a safe place
5. Bring cash for travel to and from the airport and for tipping. You will definitely want to tip your guides and other staff for the fine job that they do
6. Leave your electronics at home –or at least in your room. This is the perfect destination to unplug (Wifi is however able in each of the Camp rooms)
7. If you fly into OR Tambo (Johannesburg International) and arrive in the late afternoon, try book into a nearby hotel to get a good nights sleep for your flight in the morning – the beginning of your safari
8. Packing tip number two, besides packing light make sure you pack all the potential medications you might need
9. Make sure you check to see what vaccinations you might need when traveling to South Africa – this varies by departure country
Lastly, enjoy and make friends with the staff at Londolozi. Throw away your fear of traveling solo. South Africa is one of the safest friendliest places I have traveled to. Start planning and dreaming of your trip to Londolozi… I did!
Written and Photographed by: Irene Nathanson