We hopped into the vehicle with a couple of the back of house staff girls and headed off to go on a walk in the bush with Amy Attenborough as our guide. Our plan before heading out was to go on a silent bush immersion in which we could all reflect on the busy week that had passed. We all had the same intention, to get a different perspective of the bush, to walk quietly and connect with nature in a way that we do not often get to do here at Londolozi. We get the opportunity every now and then to go on staff bumbles, but a walk is different.
As we headed off, we were radioed by one of the other rangers and were told that Flat Rock male leopard was en route to the area that we were going to walk in. The leopard was lying right next to the Sand River catching the last bit of the afternoon sun.
A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.
We watched him for a couple of minutes before deciding that it was best to leave him in peace and rather continue with our original plan. We crossed the river into the North and pulled off the road not too far from the Sand River. We jumped out the vehicle, Amy gave us a little safety brief and then we set off, hugging a drainage line. We walked for about ten minutes in silence admiring the textures and listening to all the sounds of the bush. It was so peaceful and relaxing…
As we ventured out of the drainage line, we came across a journey of giraffes. Amy informed us that we were going to try and get a little closer to them and then if they didn’t get startled by us that we would be able to take a seat on the ground and watch their social interactions. We slowly approached them at an angle so as to not threaten them; taking a couple of steps then standing still so that they got used to our presence before repeating the action again.
We managed to get to about 15 feet away, and then sat down to watch in amazement at how the giraffes were slightly inquisitive as to what we were, yet completely relaxed by us being so close to them. The feeling of being almost within touching distance of a group of the world’s tallest animal gave me goosebumps.
After sitting with them for some time, the sun was starting to set, and so we decided to slowly start making our way back to the vehicle. As we set off, Amy stopped us and told us to listen carefully; a leopard was calling nearby! The sawing cough echoed through the bush; it was so loud it sounded as though we were right on top of it.
We quickly walked along the northern bank of the river until we came to a massive Weeping Boer Bean tree. The bank was raised high above the river at this point and Amy hoped that if we could spot the leopard, we’d be able to watch him safely without him being aware of our presence. Sitting there under the drooping boughs of the tree amongst friends, we heard the leopard’s rasp once more. On a small island in the middle of the Sand River lay the Flat Rock male. He sat there calling for a while before getting up and moving south out of the river. I had goosebumps, again. I wasn’t the only one. For the second time in less than an hour I was awestruck by what I was hearing and seeing.
It’s times like these that will make me forever appreciate how special living in the African bush is. Moments of magic, whether expected or not, punctuate our daily lives and feed a quiet satisfaction that very few other vocations can offer.