Being a guide/ranger at Londolozi allows you the opportunity to be a part of working teams.
Probably the most special of these teams is the one with your fellow tracker. As rangers we get the opportunity to spend up to eight hours a day with some of the most skilled people in the industry, men whose wisdom has been passed down for generations.
Freddy Ngobeni and I started working together in 2019. From our vehicle we have seen and witnessed some of the most amazing sightings with our guests that anyone could wish for. However, with a man of his experience and true tracking class, the real excitement often happens off the vehicle.
I’d love to share one of these moments with you…
Freddy, me and our four guests set out of Varty camp around 5am in the hope of finding Lions. We drove for about 25 minutes when Freddy’s right hand rose from the seat in front, instructing me to stop. Full of energy we both jumped off the vehicle to inspect what lay ahead.
The tracks were crossing the road; a whole pride of them, “and males” explained Freddy. They were fresh, maybe an hour or so before we got there.
With our guests parked in the comfort of a shady Marula tree, Freddy and I decided to follow the tracks a little further into the bushes to establish which general direction they were heading.
Freddy mentioned that we only needed to check the next 200m, so we set off into the long grass.
Freddy, in front of me, wasn’t just following tracks anymore, he was looking for all manner of signs indicating a passing feline. Flattened grass, broken twigs, a stray strand of fur, and the odd track in a bare patch of soil kept the two of us moving forward slowly. All of a sudden, a couple of hundred metres from our vehicle Freddy came to a sudden halt. There they were, the whole pride lying in the long grass up ahead of us!
A deep growl from one of the adult females of the Ntsevu pride ensured that we didn’t take another step closer. She was warning us; fortunately we were still at a comfortable distance. It’s hard to really describe the feeling of finding lions on foot: excitement, intensity, exhilaration, are just a few, but are mere words.
After realising where they were and a firm, but quiet, fist pump with Freddy it was now time to – very slowly – head back to the vehicle to take our guests in to see what we (Freddy) had found.
This experience is just one of the many incredible times Freddy and I have shared together so far, whether it’s a moment like this one out in the bush following wild animals, or some good laughs under the giant Ebony in Varty car park. These moments may only last a few minutes but they are definitely ones I’ll never forget.