Every camp at Londolozi is unique in its look and feel, and we often find that people are drawn to the atmosphere of the camp which is most suited to them. So when first staying at Londolozi, it’s quite a nice idea to visit each camp and see for yourself which one best suits you. While each camp has its own charm in terms of location, decoration and feel, the Camp Managers (and their cocktail making skill) play a role in bringing each camp its character.
The five camps of Londolozi are all situated alongside one another on the southern banks of the Sand River; all connected by a beautiful pathway that takes you through the riverine vegetation past each room and onto the camps main deck areas.
Pioneer Camp is the furthest western camp…
As you arrive at Pioneer Camp you are immediately transformed to the bygone era of the bushveld in South Africa with the walls all decorated with old photos, maps and letters dating back as far as 1926 when Londolozi was first visited by the Varty and Unger families. The warm and cosy enclosed dining area and formal lounge are adorned with vintage maps of the surrounding area giving you a sense of the wonder that the early explorers of the region must have had nearly a century ago. Here, you will be warmly greeted by Shannon, the Pioneer Camp Manager, who will more than likely have made her signature whiskey-sour cocktail (that she learnt from one of her guests and has since mastered herself). Whilst sipping on this delicious cocktail you can learn more about the information of each picture on the wall.
The next camp along the Sand River is Founders Camp where you will have the privilege of being greeted by not one but possibly three camp managers named Simon, Ash or Lauren. This camp has a very light and open deck area with giant wooden frames hanging on the wall containing pictures of some of Londolozi’s founding members, influential rangers, trackers and managers that helped build the lodge to what it is today. The low ceilings allow a slight breeze in that greets you as approach the bar, giving the camp a subtle coastal feel about it. Ash often takes the reigns when it comes to the midday cocktails and what could be better than an Aperol Spritz on a sunny day while overlooking the large boulders in the riverbed.
Next along the river is our Private Granite Suites. If you are staying at this camp you’ll be greeted with open arms by Angie who is the Granite Camp Manager. From the camp path, you enter the Granite deck area down a short flight of stairs that accentuate the hidden and exclusive atmosphere of the camp. Taking inspiration from the land around it, Granite is a small camp that is adorned with small granite rocks that decorate the walls, large black and white photographs of elephants decorate empty spaces and compliment the earthy, neutral tones of the camp. Angie can be a bit indecisive, meaning her cocktails change from time to time, ranging from a beautiful pitcher of Pimms packed with colourful fruit or a gin cocktail with some delicious flavoured tonics. We usually take this cocktail down to the sunken lounge area and enjoy the almost eye-level view of the granite boulders and small pools of water that are scattered between them.
Next in line is Varty Camp; the original camp of Londolozi. This camp is the most central and here you will find the gym area, the Safari Boutique, Photographic Studio and Healing House. This means that there is always a buzz of activity around the camp. Once you walk onto the main deck area you are immediately drawn to the majestic Jackalberry tree that is in the middle of the deck which pokes through the high thatch roof and acts as the skeleton of this theatrical space. The wide-open deck lends itself to a 180-degree view overlooking the reserve and Sand River and, if we’re lucky, we may get a glimpse of a herd of elephants walking by. Above the fireplace is the original title deed of Londolozi and just outside of the deck are the original mud huts built in the 1960s. These two details alone give you a sense of the rich history of Londolozi and the people that have shaped it from the start. Jordan-Lee, Drea or Ash (yes we have two Ashleigh’s in our camp management team) are the busy camp managers that run Varty Camp. As I mentioned, it tends to be the busiest camp with the daily hustle and bustle of Londolozi normally centred around them, however, they will always make time to ensure they can whip you up a delicious cocktail. Their go-to cocktail is a Moscow mule.
A little while down the river underneath a large forest of trees, you enter Tree Camp, where you will be greeted by the bubbly character that is Jenna. You will be instantly drawn to the beautifully dark and moody deck that seems to be suspended in the treetops. With striking pictures of leopards on the walls and, when in full bloom, the glorious leopard orchids that hang from branches above your head; it really is a breathtaking sight. After getting a tour around the deck Jenna will likely be making her signature ‘dessert’ cocktail called the Russian Twist which she invented herself and which is the perfect way to end off the crawl. At this point you will unwind and relax at the Tree camp bar, getting ready to head back to your own camp for some well-deserved lunch before you head out for your afternoon game drive.
But what is my signature cocktail you may ask? Well, I have the very unique role in which I look after the three Relais & Châteaux Camps (Tree Camp, Pioneer Camp and the Private Granite Suites) when the camp manager of those camps are on leave. So if it happens to be me running one of those camps when you arrive at Londolozi you can look forward to a very delicious margarita garnished with lemon and salt.
While our signature cocktails might change over time, the feel of Londolozi’s Camps will always remain the same. If you see any of us on your next trip to Londolozi we would love to prepare you one of our signature cocktails on one of our unique camp decks. We can be quite competitive about our cocktail making skills and so please let us know which one you enjoyed most!