One never really leaves Africa, it’s always with you… your senses are heightened by the experiences. You see more clearly, listen more carefully, and crave the smell of the natural world. I miss you Africa, but I’ll return once again to fill my heart with the joy and peace found in your country.
In my travels over the years, some places have overwhelmed me, but nowhere near as much as my first experience at Londolozi. The Londolozi Effect truly took hold, so much so that I booked a second trip, soon thereafter, only to have it canceled by the COVID shutdown. No matter, I just rebooked, anticipating a return to travel at the beginning of 2021.
Nothing had changed – it was as magical as ever, nature at her finest. It was like returning to visit an old friend, a home away from home. Tucked into my cozy room under the trees, my every need or desire was provided for by the amazing staff. A calmness began to settle, growing each day. I was whole again. I looked forward each day to set out on my drive, never knowing what I would see next.
My guiding team, Kirst and Lucky, took me on a week’s journey that included among other animals, sightings of more leopards than I’d ever viewed before. They’re my favourite predator and I was thrilled beyond words. To sit for hours and watch these magnificent big cats is a dream worth living over and over. But there was more; viewing a buffalo calf just minutes after its birth, watching a hammerkop bird waiting in the water crossing the causeway, and then bam, he caught a fish! These moments were repeated over and over. I took photos – hundreds of them – but made sure to leave time to be in the moment. That’s the most important thing to remember whilst in the bush – just be there.
I hope you enjoy My Week in Pictures…
Just an hour or so into my first drive we saw all the usual grazing animals and then – the Senegal Bush Male leopard on patrol passing by Tortoise Pan.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
As a non-birder, I was soon under the tutelage of my guide and on my second day sighted this stunning Giant Kingfisher. After that, it was my challenge to see how many birds I could spot.
Leopards, like domestic felines, need a good stretch after resting a bit. The Picadilly Female leopard was no exception. So after her yoga pose, where was she going?
This female is most often encountered near the Sand River to the east of the Londolozi camps.
Another avian find, a Hammerkop fishing at the edge of the Causeway, and then bam, he caught a small fish!
If you look closely, you may notice the zebra calling his friends lacks a full ear. It’s hard to say what happened so I’ll leave it at that – it was a first to see for me.
After her duiker kill, the Xinzele Female leopard checks her surroundings to ensure other predators have not detected the scent. Luckily the dense vegetation from the summer rains offers her a good hiding place.
A small female often found in NW Marthly. Similar spot pattern to her mother the Ingrid Dam Female.
The Ximungwe Female leopard has successfully raised a rambunctious male to adulthood and is now raising another cub, somewhere further stashed in a den. Since this photo was taken she has been observed with her cub.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
I met my first jaffle at the Easter party, brilliantly grilled by James Souchon, and fortunately for me, it was not my last. Thanks to James, Kirst, and the Founders Camp staff, I enjoyed a scrumptious brunch in the Maxabene River bed, the star being “the jaffle”.
Editor’s note: A sneaky picture of Denise, Kirst and Guy Brunshill at the Easter Breakfast
The Xinzele Female draped over a branch
Sometimes it’s all in the details…..
“How do I take this territory away from the Birmingham males” the Othawa male could be thinking while resting on a termite mound next to the Londolozi airstrip. Little did he know on April 8 that his days were numbered.
Twice the age of the Othawa Male lion, this Birmingham Male cruises down the road; an intensity emanating from his body language. Was there a kill nearby or was this a search for his brother?
To watch an elephant dust bathing is fascinating, but doing so whilst her calf is suckling is priceless! This mother continued her bath, spraying a fine layer of dust over her baby who was oblivious to it all. Mothers with babies are always a bonus sighting.
Most likely crossing through this thicket of tall grasses, kissed by the early morning sun, it appears the Nkoveni Female leopard is on her way back to the place where she had stashed her cubs. We followed her as far as a drainage line where we left her to carry on.
A gorgeous female who is found to the east of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
We received a call late one afternoon to rush to a sighting of a buffalo herd where a buffalo was in the process of giving birth. We arrived a few minutes after the birth but witnessed the little calf rise to its legs quickly, taken care of immediately by its attentive mother. This moment was a heart melter.
Capturing an image of a Guinea Fowl has eluded me on every safari, and finally, on the seventh morning, I reached my shutter and clicked before they disappeared into the tall grass.
The first time I saw the Flat Rock Male leopard he was walking away through the river bed reeds, only to return to his kill in the thick branches of the tree. A couple of days later, here he was on patrol in his territory, walking along the road, his sleek body highlighted in the dappled light.
A dominant male leopard over the majority of the north. He originally took over the 4:4 Male's territory when he died.
I’ve followed the history of the Tsalala Lioness for years and finally was treated to a morning with her and her daughter on my last morning. To say I was thrilled was an understatement.
Here the Tsalala daughter took a detour to climb up this broken limb, surveying her surroundings, perhaps looking for a potential meal. This pair tend to like morning hunting.
And then it was the end of my wonderful time at Londolozi with Kirst and Lucky, and so a selfie was in order.
I hope you enjoyed my Week In Pictures…