“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” Gary Snyder
Having recently come back from leave, driving past the sign of Londolozi, I feel home.
When I began here, we used to play a song called We’re Going Home by Vance Joy as we left to go on leave after a six-week cycle. Two years later we now play this as we are arriving back to Londolozi after leave.
It’s the fresh air that fills up around me and replaces what was an air-conditioned car. It’s the sight of the open grasslands on the drive in and the changing vegetation into the thicket bushwillows as the tree branches now drape the two tracks after the recent rains.
It’s the first wildebeest that kicks up the stones as you drive past, scaring the Lilac breasted roller that was perched on the now lush Marula tree. It is amazing how much changes in two weeks. Instead of music on full blast, the Woodland kingfisher’s instantly recognisable call can be heard while the distant territorial grunt of an impala is clear.
I often stop for a moment when I return. I listen, watch, and smell while a breeding herd of elephants crosses the road, heading north towards the Sand River. This is the most exciting change for me; I cannot wait to see the changes in water levels on its story-telling banks. It’s the land, it’s the animals and lastly…
It’s driving past the entrance to the camp, greeting every friendly face; “Avuxeni” (“Good morning” in Shangaan). It is the people that really make this place feel like home.
Sometimes we have to visit other places, and sometimes it is the images that take us back home. I hope these take you back to memories of our home, Londolozi.
One of the Nstevu cubs leaps down from a tree; usually this image would be host to a leopard, however this curious cub kept us entertained as it got scared and quickly wanted to get down after climbing.
Golden light hits the trunks of these elephants as they feed on the lush grass, providing a great opportunity for a photo showing the many different textures of a trunk.
Grass levels are at an all-time high so this cheetah uses a small termite mound to scan the surrounds.
A close up of a Giraffe as it stares at a passing leopard in the thick grass, extremely focused.
A Wild Dog stares at a Hyena in a nearby pan, while the rest of the pack rests on the rock where they spent most of their afternoon.
Tracker and good friend Ray Mabilane, happy as always; one of the best parts of my job is working with this friendly face. As I said, it’s the people that make a place feel like home.
With the recent rains, there is no shortage of mud and small pans of water providing great opportunities for rhinos to be cooling off on the hot summer days.
A very relaxed male Giant Kingfisher, as the brown is on the breast, whereas the females have brown on the belly.
The Mashaba female, still providing unbelievable sightings in many different areas of the reserve. She is the oldest female leopard that we see on Londolozi.
A beautiful Yellow Pansy butterfly land on one of the Birmingham males. I absolutely loved this scene; a delicate butterfly on an aggressive, dangerous male lion.
I almost mistook this tiny leopard tortoise for a stone in the road. Smaller than the palm of my hand, it slowly made its way across the two track.
After a long afternoon sleep under the shade of a Jackalberry tree, a Birmingham male stares at the rest of the pride as they make their way down the road.
A glazed look as the Inyathini male rests on a marula branch. Slowly his territory is getting smaller and smaller as he gets pressure from other males in the area.
One of the most distinct bushveld calls is that of the Black Bellied Korhaan, caught in the act here before he makes the distinct bubble popping sound.