We knew the minute we arrived at Londolozi that it is a very special place. We were warmly greeted by the team at the Granite Camp with smiles and waves like we were long lost friends. We could only imagine what awaited us over the next four days. Our dream of a safari began to be realized immediately. We were escorted to our beautiful suite with an amazing view of the Sand River and a couple hours later we were in the Land Rover ready to begin our first afternoon game drive.
Our ranger John and tracker Eucie became instant friends, and within a few hours we had already seen the Big 5 and more. We were surprised at how close we were to these wild animals who did not seem to notice us as we watched them in their natural environment. Each day John and Eucie expertly tracked the animals, and we loved the way we drove off-road through the bush to allow the best viewing and optimal photographic angles.
On one of our first drives, we found two lionesses from the Ntsevu Pride feeding on an Impala under a tree. We could hear her crunching on the bones. The next day on our morning drive, John said “We hit the jackpot” and off we went to find the rest of the Pride with the other four females and all 12 cubs. Not only was the Pride there, but also the 3 Birmingham males were with them in the area. We spent over an hour watching them move about and roaring back and forth as they communicated with each other. The next day we found the Pride again as the four females and all 12 cubs drank from a stream and roamed through the grass on their way to another location. Several of the lionesses walked within two feet of the Land Rover.
Each game drive came with its own surprises, and no two were ever alike. We encountered impalas, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, hyena cubs, and many beautiful birds, just to name a few. One morning we came upon a large herd of water buffalo, the most dangerous animal of all. We were right in the middle of them as they crossed the road in front of us. On one occasion there was a line of huge elephants with their babies walking in formation down the middle of the dirt road in front of us, so we simply followed them. After a few minutes, the elephant in the back whirled around and stared us down with ears flapping, as if to say “Stop following us!” So we stopped until she swung her trunk, whirled back around, and continued proceeding down the road. Eventually they left the road so we could pass.
Each time we were about to encounter a special sighting, John stopped and Eucie got off the tracker chair on the front of the Land Rover and jumped back in with us. That’s when we knew that something very exciting was about to take place. John and Eucie knew what was ahead but kept the element of surprise. This happened numerous times during our four days. Everyone wants to see a leopard on safari, and Londolozi did not disappoint. One afternoon, Eucie jumped in with us and off we went, soon to come upon a male leopard . We had an excellent view of him in the long grass and watched him for quite a while. The next day we encountered another leopard, a female, eating a large impala . We thought she would hoist it into a tree, but she eventually covered the kill with grass to hide the scent. She and the impala were gone the next day, so unfortunately it seemed that the impala had been stolen by another predator.
Many pleasures come with a Londolozi safari, including cocktails on the hood of the Land Rover each evening as the sun was setting. Our favorite, Gin & Tonic, never tasted so good as it did in the bush. Each morning we stopped mid-drive and had coffee in the same way. Mornings in Africa are amazing with the sounds of birds and the sun coming over the horizon, everything ablaze with color. The landscape was beautiful and the color reflecting on the long grass was great for photography. We wondered what had happened during the night in the circle of life. We knew that some animals did not survive, but others had food to live another day.
One of our most amazing experiences was one evening as we heard a lion roaring during our G & T time. We packed up and started making our way back to camp in the dark when Euce flashed his light and said “Lion!” One of the Birmingham males was less than 15 feet from the side of the road, roaring loud and long. We stopped and watched, amazed at the sight while he was clearly claiming his territory.
Each moment of our safari was an amazing experience, including the way the Granite Camp team at Londolozi made us feel like family and took care of us with fabulous food, great care, and attention to every detail. Of course, the spectacular game drives and the animals were what we went to see, and each drive exceeded our expectations Now that we have been home for a few days, we reflect back with melancholy on our time in Africa. We are sad that it is over but thankful for the time we had. Our safari dream had come true at Londolozi……and we will go back…..
Roger & Gayle Ham
Newport Coast, California