In referencing a previous blog written by Chris Taylor, A 12 Day Safari in Pictures, I agree that there is enormous value in a longer stay at Londolozi. Previously a set of guests of mine stayed with us for seven nights, this is slightly longer than the average three to four night stay and allowed us to spend a lot more time in many of the sightings that we had. Not that people staying with us for longer have preferential treatment in the sightings but rather because we knew that we would still be able to get around and see everything else over the course of the seven days. Practicing the art of patience I guess. Spending more time with the animals in the hopes that they do something special, in our case spending a lot more time waiting for a particular animal to do something.
Early one morning the Plaque Rock female Leopard was found with an Impala kill hoisted in a beautiful Marula tree on an open crest which, photographically, is a dream if she is up in the tree. Having been far from this particular sighting that morning, the plan was to head there in the afternoon to hopefully capture some amazing shots with the setting sun in the background.
Setting out from camp we had high hopes that the leopard would be draped over the branch in a picturesque manner, with the sun slowly dropping in the background. However, the scene we arrived at had everything we anticipated except the most important feature, the leopard. She was nowhere to be seen, but hope was not lost as her impala kill was still hoisted in the tree. We sat waiting and scanning the surroundings for about 15 minutes hoping she’d be lying in the grass somewhere nearby, waiting for the heat of the day to pass. But nothing. We then drove around the closest thickets hoping to spot her dappled coat in the shade.
Still nothing. The risk of leaving the area and returning, later on, was that we would miss her going up the tree which provides amazing photographic opportunities. Our final decision was to just sit and wait. We sat for over two hours and watched the sunset behind the Drakensberg mountains and the only visitors were a few hyenas sniffing around the base of the tree. Eventually, we decided to return to camp for dinner and hoped to try again the next morning.
As the sun came up our first port of call was to see if anything had changed with the Plaque Rock female. Still, nothing. Having waited for the whole morning drive for her and just as we were about to give up and move on to search for something else we decided to give it one last try and look along the thicket line again. Tracker Freddy Ngobeni spotted her approaching the tree from a distance. Overwhelmed with joy and excitement after almost two whole game drives of just waiting, we all contained ourselves, made sure our settings were correct and our cameras were held nice and still. She walked straight up to the marula and in three quick bounds, she was up the tree.
Finally, we were rewarded for our patience. We knew that she would eventually return to feed and we just needed to be there when she arrived as it is so exciting watching leopards gracefully ascend the tree.