He is without a doubt the most observant, attentive and knowledgeable man I have met. Compassionate and humble, he represents the man I wish to be. With a contagious smile and infectious laugh, he turns heads every time he talks. I’d like to believe that all Londolozi staff members reading this know exactly who I am talking about and I am fairly certain most of my previous guests and avid blog followers know too… Freddy Ngobeni.
It was just the other day at a drinks stop filled with passionate football supporters that Freddy was able to recite not only the eight proceeding UEFA Champions league fixtures but also the time in which they were being held. Freddy, being a passionate Manchester United supporter made an ensuing debate regarding the technicalities of the game along with preferred team selections and predictions. These are the moments I will never forget. Unfathomable to most, a photographic memory is something that only those that have it will ever understand and I strongly believe that Freddy is one such person blessed with one!
Although I’ll sadly be leaving at the beginning of November this is not my last goodbye, or a goodbye at all, but rather humble appreciation and heartfelt thanks for what I have learnt from such a great man.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
“You were so bad at birds,” arbitrarily exclaimed Freddy whilst preparing morning coffee several months back. To my astonishment (not due to the lack of truth but rather its mentioning), I turned towards him and was greeted with a comical smile and a soft chuckle. I smiled back and responded with a nudge of his shoulder, “I was, wasn’t I?” Needless to say my passion for birding and identifying new species have grown exponentially throughout the years, thanks to Freddy.
I have worked with Freddy since arriving at Londolozi and one can only describe it as a life changing experience. Having had little, to no knowledge of the bush nor much previous safari experience, I came to Londolozi keen and willing to learn as much as possible about this beautiful and natural landscape that I now call home. It was difficult to be one of the least experienced trainee rangers (of all time) but quickly found my feet, put my head in the books and tried to study the vast array of flora and fauna situated in our immediate surroundings. It was however not until pairing up with Freddy as a ranger and tracker team that my knowledge and appreciation of the bush grew exponentially. Freddy, through his patience and knowledge sharing abilities has enabled my progress to where I am today. Since our first drive together, we have been able to form a strong and cohesive bond, one that has strengthened over time into the friendship that we now share. Trust, loyalty and respect is what governs our game drives and it is that unbreakable partnership formed that enables us to work so well together.
We have been fortunate enough to witness some incredible animal interactions together, have had opportunities to analyse differing circumstances, been privileged enough to follow the growth of leopard cubs and the dynamic lives of numerous adult leopards as well as share with each other our life stories and contrasting backgrounds. He’s given me invaluable tracking lessons, helped me set up countless drinks stops and watched out for the safety of our guests with me. We’ve had a few edgy encounters with rhinos, hippos and a black mamba, and I’ve been amazed by his incredible spotting ability. His tangible presence on the vehicle will forever live with me. His extraordinary knowledge of astronomy and reverence for the bush are things that need to be cherished and passed on through future generations.
I am sure that rangers that have previously worked with Freddy will express a similar sentiment and respect for what he has done as well as any Londolozi guests that have had the privilege of driving with him. Thank you again my friend!