Sam and Mary-Jane Armacost recently spent a week with us at Londolozi. This was their third visit here, and with Sam’s wonderful photography and Mary-Jane’s storytelling they kindly shared their experience with us. We hand over to Mary-Jane:
Sam and Mary-Jane sitting on the Tree Camp deck.
We seem to keep coming back to Londolozi and I think it’s because it is just such a fabulous place, and the animals and the game viewing are incredible, but more than that it’s the people that work there. Pete and Bennet, our ranger-tracker team, were great, and demonstrated their remarkable knowledge on the bush as well as on animal behaviour. In particular we loved when they predicted a leopard’s next actions due to signs of yawning and licking, and it happened just like clockwork; it was sort of like they were programmed.
The leopard action was incredible this trip. Last trip we managed to see a leopard dragging its kill up a tree which was amazing. We follow the leopards on the blog quite closely. The morning I opened up the blog and the Piva male had been killed, I just got all teary. I called my friend up and she’d already read it too. She answered the phone and new it was me, she said “DID YOU READ ABOUT THE PIVA MALE?”. We love following the leopards on the blog, it’s just like a mini safari. I kept a list of the leopards I saw this trip (the Ndzanzeni young male, the Nhlanguleni female with her two cubs, the Flat Rock male, the Ingrid Dam female’s daughter, the Ximungwe female, the Mashaba female, the Nkoveni female and her cub and the Senegal Bush male). I laughed as I said to Peter that Londolozi needs to choose leopard names which we can pronounce and spell!
The Mashaba female began on the termite mound and then started walking with the odd territorial roar. She scent marked a lot by spraying.
She was walking with her tail curled up as she’d been spotted by other animals. She really walked a long way and we followed her for ages.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The Nhlanguleni female’s cub.
The cheetah sighting we had was special as we didn’t see cheetah on our last trip here. It was incredible to see this male cheetah and he put on quite a show for us and posed perfectly for Sam.
The elephants have been frequenting the larger waterholes as the Sand River has so little water in it right now.
Our first trip to Africa got us really interested in birds. The birds here at beautiful! Here we saw a marabou stork perched in a dead tree at sunset and so we managed to get some great silhouette shots
The water was all foamed up around these hippos from their dung. With help from Kylie in the Londolozi Photo Studio we managed to change to a great black and white shot.
A pair of African fish eagles. The crop of the eagle on the left is bulging, indictaing its hunting was successful.
A Birmingham male. He was a beautiful lion. Behind him one can see the remains of his kill; a male nyala. Many of our lion sightings involved lions sprawled out in the heat of the day, and so it was wonderful to see this male lion sitting up.
These zebras were very skittish. The impala moved off the pan and the zebra quietly came over to drink. I love the head on capture of the zebra on the right. The face of the zebra reminds me so much of a lot of African masks.
A beautiful young journey of giraffes were scattered around a clearing. Many of these still had signs of their umbilical cords still attached. There was a beautiful light, and pretty soon this mother giraffe came into the scene and this little thing just went bee-line, right for her. We’d never seen this before.
This was amazing, just for the sheer number of buffalo we saw. It reminded me of what old cattle drives must have looked like. They just kept coming!
The prolific zebras were one of the highlights of our trip.
We had wonderful rhino sightings. This was our first sighting of a rhino this trip to Africa and we managed to see one every single day.
We thought this female steenbok was so sweet. They were everywhere; we saw about 20 in this trip alone.
The philosophy and integration into the Londolozi family (that Dave Varty mentions in his talk) resonated through every action in our trip. Our love of African birds has continuously grown and I’m crazy about lilac-breasted rollers, and luckily for us we were able to see one a day. On our last day, at the very end, we had a lilac-breasted roller do a flyby for us to say goodbye.
Needless to say, we’ll be back soon!