“It’s another world. The Africa of dreams, of films: the natural world.” ~ Anthony Bourdain on safari
Londolozi is a powerful teacher, and the beauty of a Londolozi safari is that it imparts lasting lessons, ones that are widely applicable to life beyond the bush.
A game drive, for instance, is a classroom-on-wheels, a rolling tutorial in animal behaviour, bush ecology, storytelling, conservation history, and G&T assembly. But it’s also an ideal metaphor for how to travel, whether you’re out in the bush or exploring a foreign city. A safari teaches the value of getting an early start, of going off the beaten path, of giving in to your curiosity. On a game drive, you learn to be persistent but flexible, patient and open. You learn to take time – wherever you are – to watch the sunset.
And, as any convert to the wonders of an afternoon biltong break will tell you, game drives are proof that eating like a local – the central principle of the Anthony Bourdain school of travel – is a winning strategy.
For the uninitiated, Bourdain was a chef, writer, and television host who brought millions of readers and viewers with him on his relentless quest for authenticity in travel: he embraced the cuisine and culture of every country he visited, bringing us along for the ride through his insightful television programs, No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Since Bourdain came onto the scene in the early 2000s, though, authenticity has evolved from an ideal to a buzzword to a cliché. In a globalized age of mass tourism where every Bangkok street vendor and hole-in-the-wall taco shop has its own TripAdvisor page, it can feel as though there’s little left in the world to discover. What does it mean, in 2019, to be authentically anything?
Londolozi shows its strength in moments like these. On safari, the noise falls away, leaving you to get in touch with the essence of a word, its deepest meaning, and the truth of an idea.
Authenticity: it’s someone in the staff village saying hello, asking how you’re doing, and actually meaning it. It’s nature left to its own devices, unadulterated and completely wild: those are real vervet monkeys airlifting your breakfast into a tree, because they really do have an appetite. It’s honouring a rich human history while restoring an ecosystem to its authentic, pre-industrial state and staying true to the meaning of safari (a journey): self-discovery through exploration. And sometimes, authentic travel experiences are hard to swallow, which anyone who’s eaten an adventurous local meal or witnessed a kill on a game drive will recognize with a pang in the gut, perhaps even as you read this now.
Anthony Bourdain said it best: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart…”
Reflecting on my most memorable sightings at Londolozi – some heartbreaking, others bursting with the miracle of life – Bourdain’s wisdom rings true. A safari is a journey in the most authentic sense of the word, because on a game drive, nothing is scripted. It’s a window into the truth of the natural world, where everything is authentically itself, where nature’s ancient story continues to unfold, and where there’s always something new to discover.