A brief encounter with a leopard on the last day of our holiday in Namibia and Botswana in 2016 was the catalyst for our trip to Londolozi in July this year.
Little did we know when we booked that the wildlife viewing at Londolozi would come quite so thick and fast, and with so much variety.
Having landed at the airstrip, and met our ranger and tracker team – Grant and Jerry – we headed off to camp. We weren’t even half way there before we met our first leopard, wandering down the road in the middle of the day! The rest of the four days carried on in the same vein as those first few minutes.
Our most incredible moments included viewing a rarely seen male cheetah, multiple close-quarter sighting of leopards, the since-deceased Piva male leopard with kill in a tree, five white rhino in one place, hearing the roar of a male lion, watching three lions cross the Sand River in the black of night and the smallest lion cub you could imagine.
This absolutely fabulous game viewing combined with a great team, fantastic food and a stunning location equalled a superb holiday.
We’ll be back soon. Next time for some leopard cubs!
A Majingilane male lion turns to listen to roaring in the distance. This coalition has spent a lot of time split up in the last few months as they continue to patrol to both the west and east of Londolozi.
A typical pre-dawn winter morning on Londolozi as light filters through the trees. A few months later, these very Marula trees are now starting to sprout fresh, new leaves.
A male cheetah watches a herd of impala from the shade of a tree. These cats are diurnal, meaning that they typically hunt during the day when the other predators are less likely to be moving around.
A young elephant bull feeds from a round-leafed teak. Bulls this age typically meander on the edges of the herd, eventually leaving to join bachelor herds at about 15 years old.
The Mashaba female leopard watches a herd of impala feeding nearby. It was for Londolozi’s notorious leopards that we returned on safari and we were not disappointed by the incredible sightings.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
The Mashaba female leopard stalk the herd of impala she had spotted earlier. She began to use shade and this termite mound for cover, hoping to creep closer to her chosen targets.
Having been spotted, she gives up the hunt. She turned and walked right past our vehicle, allowing me this photographic opportunity.
A male saddle-billed stork walks in the Sand River, looking for fish to feed on. It can be identified as the male due to its dark eye. The female has a yellow eye.
Sadly now-deceased, the Piva male leopard lounges in a tree. This was our first sighting of a male leopard and it was incredible to see how much bigger he was than the Mashaba female.
The Piva male glances skyward. Vultures will circle, looking for carcasses to feed from, which is one of the reasons that leopards tend to choose heavily vegetated trees such as this to stash their kills in.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
A white rhino feeds past our vehicle one morning. Having relatively poor eyesight and a nose that is typically on the ground during feeding, they rely heavily on their tubular-shaped ears to hear danger coming.
An Ntsevu lioness moves her very young cub from one den site to another. Moments like these are dangerous for the cub, as they are vulnerable to other predators when exposed like this.
Despite the mother being completely unperturbed by our presence, the cub was a bit more inquisitive about the vehicle. Learning from the mother’s reaction though, the cub will then grow up trusting of the presence of vehicles.
The Ntsevu lioness eventually settles down to rest for a while. Her cub’s coat was completely wet by this point, having had to move through the dew-laden grass to keep up with it’s mother.
A white-fronted bee-eater perches on a dead tree stump. From here it will flit away to snatch up passing insects and return to this resting spot to feed.
Three red-billed oxpeckers work through the coat of a giraffe, pulling off ticks to feed on. Although yellow-billed oxpeckers can also be seen in this area, they are far less common than the red-billed.
A hyena reaches up and grabs the remains of a carcass from a Tamboti tree. Although they can’t climb, they can jump, grabbing food just out of their reach.
Me and Jacqui enjoying an evening drink with our ranger, Grant and tracker, Jerry. The pair made an incredible team.
The Mashaba female yawns before getting up to move. Despite appearances, yawning and grooming often precede cats getting on the move.
Gorgeous dappled light falls on the Mashaba female leopard. Even when they’re not hidden in vegetation they can be difficult to spot as their rosetted coats resembles the dappled light.
A male cheetah glances up from his resting spot before flopping back down again. Being significantly smaller than lions, leopards and hyenas, cheetah use open areas, vantage points and high levels of awareness to keep themselves safe. If they spot another predator, they can then use their speed to make a hasty retreat.
Londolozi Guests, Adam & Jacqui