A Nature Reunion Ambassador is an individual from our very own Londolozi Family. Someone who, on a daily basis, interacts with the reserve, the wildlife and the elements and who truly understands nature and how intertwined it is with their being.
This is the final blog to our six part Nature Reunion Ambassador series. During a year full of uncertainty – relying on nature was our solution. Time spent in nature comes with no manual – it’s doing the things that fill your cup up, that rejuvenate you, that make you feel truly yourself and inspire you. The Londolozi Family have demonstrated the beautiful and unique ways that they connect with nature and we couldn’t be more thankful to them for sharing such inspiring tips. And thank you, our extended Londolozi Family, who have commented and emailed us with their nature reunions from around the world. As we come to the end of 2021 – we hope that you remember to rely on nature.
Here are our next three Nature Reunion Ambassadors who you might recognise from your trip to Londolozi or from the blog…
Roxy Burrough, Londolozi’s Graphic Designer and In-House Artist
“The way I connect with nature is through art.
Growing up on a game farm in Zimbabwe, it isn’t surprising that I’ve always been fond of the natural world. My days consisted of riding bikes, checking on the ostriches in the hatchery, nagging Mom to take us for swims in the secret lagoons deep within the farm, and afterwards nagging Dad to take us for a game drive. Then in the evening, I’d grab my pencils and my Dad’s wildlife photography books (one being about the leopards of Londolozi, believe it or not!), I’d settle into my little red chair and find something to draw.
I always thought my drawings looked very realistic and quite incredible, but doesn’t every child? It was only a little later on in my childhood that people (other than Mom and Dad) started taking my art more seriously.
Fast forward to 2016 where I found (and still find) myself at Londolozi, back in the bush and literally living in those beautiful photographic books I grew up with. I’m immersed in a world of inspiration every day; the walk to the office is sprinkled with flowers, birds and monkeys. A sunset on Varty deck isn’t usually without a huge herd of elephants meandering over the crest. An afternoon game drive is filled with magnificent landscapes for as far as you can see. And the leopards, oh, the leopards!
When I started my journey at Londolozi, I saw a photograph that David Dampier (Londolozi’s CFO) took of the Ndzanzeni Female leopard, and I knew that one day I’d try to draw it. Those spindly whiskers and bewildering rosettes have daunted me for far too long. But if the pandemonium of a pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to be courageous.
And that’s the thing about art too; it takes courage. And it is through courageous moments of drawing the wild world around me, that I truly feel connected to nature.” ~ Roxy Burrough
*If you are interested in purchasing a limited edition signed print of “Ndzanzeni”, please send us an email and we’ll be in touch!
Jordan Odams, Varty Camp Manager
”For me a reunion with nature happens in a single moment. It’s a moment when you most feel at peace – and for me that moment is just as the sun is setting and the day is drawing to a close. I have always had a fascination with a red-orange sunsets…
While I was studying in Cape Town my friends and I would always make an effort to go and watch the sunset from somewhere special. The location was always different, but the feeling it evoked always remained constant. The temperature would drop as the sun disappeared, however I always felt warm. This warmth comes from the serenity I always feel as I watch the magnificent colours paint the night sky. Everything around you seems to fade away as the darkness arrives except for the beautiful orange, red and often pink hues on the horizon, the only thing left to focus on.
Sunsets have always been special for me and my love for them has only grown since being at Londolozi. Being able to see an African sunset in the middle of the bush with no distractions, other than the twinkling stars above and the faint sound of a hyena calling, is something I don’t think I will ever get over. It is the feeling of the day ending and a new one starting with new opportunities to make the most of.
A sunset is a positive reminder for that something amazing could happen at any moment – you just have to notice it. It is so easy to become consumed by your busy day that you almost forget to look up and admire nature around you. Sunsets remind me that the world is such a beautiful place if only you take a moment to relax and look up” ~ Jordan Odams
Bennet Mathonsi, Londolozi Tracker
Bennet can often be seen on the tracker seat with his camera in hand, and when chatting to him it was clear that this was his way to connect with his surroundings…
“I have been taking wildlife images now for many years. I was initially inspired by John Varty and now I continue to try and master the skill. Seeing images on the Londolozi Blog is also a huge inspiration and a level to strive towards.
When I look back at the images I have taken I am always surprised – “did my hands really take that?”. I love to look back on my pictures and see how much I have improved and grown. My Canon 7D is like another eye – always documenting my experiences and reminding me what a unique job I have in this beautiful place I live in.
There is no doubt that a leopard is my favourite animal to capture. My best picture and memory is the one where myself and previous ranger Pete Thorpe, managed to take a picture of a leopard touching noses with a buffalo. I find wildlife photography is a challenge – you never know what is around the corner or when an exciting moment will appear. You have to be ready and quick to catch these fleeting moments.
In about 2001 Rich Laburn introduced me to the idea of making wooden frames for wildlife canvas prints. I was blown away by how these images came to life with my wooden frames. I’m not the best photographer, but I love seeing how I am improving and feel like I can get there one day. Wildlife photography is my nature reunion” ~ Bennet Mathonsi
Shannon Dawson, Londolozi Pioneer Camp Manager.
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa. Out of all the wonders of the world, for me, the horizon is the greatest. Sitting and gazing across this diverse and beautiful land from Londolozi’s Ximpalapala Koppie holds no greater feeling.
When I am sitting so high up, I feel totally inspired by my surroundings. I feel more connected to the world and myself seeing natural vistas from such great heights. I think many of us carry an ancient longing for a simpler life and when I’m fully immersed in the wild, I feel I have reached that. Special places in the world such as these, can make one realise that sometimes natural beauty can bring out the best versions of ourselves…
In our highly globalised and rapidly shifting world, many of us have forgotten the importance of space. Dedicating time to being out in nature reminds me of this and connects me to the wildlife, the trees and the land. Sitting on a boulder, with its rough texture beneath my feet and staring out at this panoramic view in front of me – I find that I am connected to my wildest, most authentic self.
From such great heights and being surrounded by such beauty, I know with certainty that I want to watch more sunsets, and have more stories to tell rather than things to own. For me, life is less about what I can buy and more about how experiences make me feel.
The African sky from Ximpalapala Koppie speaks in a thousand colours – nothing compares to watching the sun paint the sky shades of gold, orange, pink and purple, as it kisses Africa goodnight. My reunion with nature is catching the sunset/sunrise at Ximpalapala Koppie…” ~ Shannon
Preicy Mkhatshwa, Londolozi Healing House Therapist
“When I was asked what my Nature Reunion was – it was a simple answer – going on a game drive. Being at Londolozi, I have developed a love for going out into the bush after work, it’s the best way to relax and unwind.
You feel many emotions on a game drive; there’s excitement, there’s a deep sense of relaxation and peace, and of a sense of happiness as you breathe in fresh air, smell the vegetation and of course – find amazing animals. For me, the sounds of birds refresh my body and mind. My favourite animal to see is lion. No matter how many times I see lions, I’m still amazed by their sheer size, their long tails, the amount of hair in their manes and the intensity of their faces. It’s amazing to see the shift they experience in the afternoon. From sleeping the entire day and appearing to be lazy animals, they can suddenly change into a different gear at night altogether, starting to roar and hunt as a pride.
I also find it exciting to spot the wildlife – this is probably the best thing about a game drive. The feeling of finding something yourself is like no other. I often get told that I’d make a good tracker because I am able to spot animals from a distance, this is a huge compliment from the trackers. I think your eyes get trained to life in the bush and so it gets easier to spot things when you know what to look for. My best spot was when I was the first to see a leopard in a tree with an impala kill!
My absolute favourite time of day to go out on game drive is in the afternoon – this is the perfect time to watch leopard and lion start to get active for the evening. It’s also a great drive because we always make sure to stop for drinks to watch the sky change colour as the day comes to an end” ~ Preicy Mkhatshwa
Jemma Brewitt, Digital Marketer from Londolozi’s Creative Hub
“Growing up I have always loved eating outdoors. Whether it be taking the braai (barbeque) outside or simply enjoying a cup of tea in the sun. Little did I know how much this love would grow after working at Londolozi. Upon arriving I was introduced to ‘Bush Banqueting’ at Londolozi. After attending a culinary experience surrounded by the most magical bush setting (hosted by the Bush Banqueting Team), my mind was opened to a different way to be in nature. Soon I began organising many meals out in the bush, whether it was sitting in the river sand munching on a sandwich, putting out a picnic blanket under the Leadwood Forest or taking a hot cup of coffee and rusks up to Ximpalapala coffee for sunrise.
The thing I love most about Bush Banqueting is that it takes something simple, like the daily ‘task’ of eating and makes it so much more exciting and enjoyable. For some reason food tastes different when you eat it in beautiful places – maybe it’s something to do with endorphins being released or maybe it’s simply the change in scenery and the joy of the unexpected.
Bush Banqueting isn’t always a success though. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s windy or sometimes I leave an important ingredient at home – but that is what makes it an adventure and something worth remembering. Now I constantly scout for great spots to take food or prepare a meal in – it’s made me aware of the spectacular landscapes that surround me and has challenged me to create more interesting meals.
My reunion with nature is watching nature’s show with something delicious in hand” ~ Jemma Brewitt