In 1986 the West Indian cricket team whitewashed England 5 – 0. David Gower was Captain of the English cricket team at the time, so when in the same year, he was caught speeding on the M4 to London, the traffic officer (whilst examining his licence) was heard to say…
“It’s not been your year Mr Gower” as he joyfully wrote out the speeding ticket.
So, one might think that for Londolozi “it has not been our year” but one would be wrong. Of course, the pandemic was a setback to the Londolozi Family and to our valued travellers from all over the world. But we, South Africans, are a resilient lot and have always adopted the attitude of making the best out of the circumstances we face. It is therefore instructive to recall that prior to the pandemic we released a video called “There is a place”.
Despite all we have faced together over the past 18 months as a result of the pandemic, one thing remains unchanged. In Africa, this festive season…
There is still a place…
A place for reunion with nature,
A place to heal, to pause and to reflect
A place where nature offers us space, light and silence
A place alive with possibilities, new opportunities and endless horizons
A place where the story without end continues
A place we call home and many call, Londolozi
During the massive disruption which occurred across the world, we have enjoyed unbelievable support from so many of you. Some of you shared with us blog posts of encouragement, others of you chose to roll your booking forward to the next year and not request a refund. On some occasions our regular guests offered to pay for their safari in advance, in full for a future booking, still to be secured, as a show of solidarity toward Londolozi.
How does one begin to express the gratitude we felt from such an extraordinary gathering of friends all over the world? Suffice to say that Londolozi has weathered the potential financial difficulties of having its doors closed for months by an unprecedented event which halted global travel. Our Londolozi Family is still together and thriving. So despite all that has happened, we are healthy, ready and waiting to welcome many of our friends who are experiencing a pent-up need to be back with the leopards as soon as is practical.
During the same pandemic period, our South African colleagues stepped up to the plate and came to see us in their droves. In so many cases it was a walk down memory lane to a time when Londolozi was almost exclusively frequented by South Africans. What fun we all had talking about ‘when we’ and a time gone by when we all wore ‘younger man’s clothes’.
They say that out of adversity is born opportunity – and the advent of the pandemic accelerated Londolozi’s online presence. The response to our multi-platform, integrated online storytelling endeavours has been overwhelming and is reflected in our unprecedented forward bookings. Rather than this ‘not being our year’, it has become our best sales and marketing year ever and has put us in a position where we can’t wait to welcome back so many of our wonderful friends from every corner of the globe. (On that note if you are thinking about a return trip soon please begin looking at holding your space with us well in advance)
The pandemic also had the effect of bringing together the Sabi Sand community of lodges. We extend to our colleagues in the north and west of the reserve, our sincere admiration for their remarkable effort in ensuring that no less than 92% of all folks living and working in the Sabi Sand are fully vaccinated. Indeed, the game reserve is now an enclave which is very safe for international visitors. Of course the wildlife viewing is as good as ever (and lucky for us, leopards don’t get Covid 😁😁😁).
The silver lining of any challenge, upheaval or radical change is that we gain a better understanding of what truly matters – 2020 and 2021 has reminded us of that over and over again. This year many of you have followed us online into a Nature Reunion, where we found wisdom and simple gifts. So as we enter the Festive Season we ask – what does the gift of giving truly mean? More than just a present, we believe a gift can be an extension of your humanity. As you give time, energy, thought and love you are showing your humanity and your generosity as a human being. By making, crafting, buying and giving presents in all their forms – it is an opportunity to show who you really are and how you want to live. This year starting on the 17th of December we will bring you 7 Days of Nature’s Gifts on The Londolozi Blog. Each day you will get an African blog advent calendar of sorts, a window to explore, enjoy and maybe share or pass on in your own gifting journey. Make sure to sign up to our daily stories to receive these blogs as soon as they’re published – may you all receive the gifts of nature this festive season.
Perhaps our greatest admiration should go to Kate Groch, CEO of the Good Work Foundation who used her network of satellite learning centres during lockdown to distribute food far and wide to the villages adjacent to the reserve. Kate refused to allow the pandemic to interrupt GWF’s learning curriculums for the year. Undaunted, she and her remarkable GWF leadership team, found a way to continue online teaching in rural South Africa, unabated. At the time of writing this, just under 11 000 young souls are now back visiting the learning centres weekly to continue to advance their Mathematics, English and digital literacy, expand their creativity, start to gain an understanding of conservation, and get stuck into coding and robotics (and so much more!). A further 340 young South Africans will graduate from our Bridging Year Academy in January, whilst the Hospitality and Conservation Academy will launch 23 skilled graduates into the market, fully equipped to establish meaningful careers in Travel and Tourism. Over and above this, all 19 ICT Academy students recently passed their CompTia Security+ exam and will all be graduating (with flying colours) in December.
So contrary to all that one may have thought, it has been a year of great innovation, adjustment, change and reflection.
A year in which our enduring partner – nature – has not wavered. A year during which our Londolozi family stood firm in solidarity with each other. A year in which we were to discover what true friends and support we have all over the world. A year to renew old friendships and memories and a year to be filled with gratitude.
From your home fires in Africa…
Happy Festive Season…
And roll on 2022…
We can’t wait to see you all! And as is tradition I present to you our ever loved Londolozi Christmas video, enjoy!
Based on the poem ‘The Call of the Wild’ by Robert Service.
Being at Tree Camp for 4 days in November has been an experience that myself and my wife will never forget. The exceptional and unique game viewing, the expertise of Jessica and Advice, both making an incredible team exceeding anything we could expect, the super friendly and dynamic Kelly, always taking care of everything to make our stay unforgettable and the hospitality of all staff had no match.
I also had the privilege of reading Dave’s book “The full circle”. I couldn’t stop until I finished it. It gave me so much information about the epic journey of transforming the landscape and expanding the conservation areas across Southern and Eastern Africa, putting down fences and border lines to allow Nature to breath and flourish and simultaneously uplifting the lives of millions of persons and their communities!
I’ve been personally involved, among other conservation initiatives, in the expansion of the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique from 22.000Km2 to 42.000Km2 and in its management during 16 years, from 1996 to 2012, with the hope that one day Niassa and Selous could be connected and become one of the most majestic conservation areas in Africa and that’s why I fully understand the challenges and hurdles Dave faced in his quest for Nature.
I can only recommend to everybody that wants to understand how it is possible for so many of us to enjoy today the beauty of so many Parks and Reserves, to read this incredible book and to pay tribute to someone that gave all his strength, passion and soul to fight the most important battle of our times: to put Nature in first place!
Beautiful Christmas video!
I miss this magical place and its people so much!
Dear Dave ,and ,fantastic,Team.
It is with nothing ,but admiration and respect,that I send u this response.
The way u have shaped the Londolozi project,since it’s inception.
Grown it. Year by year. And ,made sure ,that u incorporated, the surrounding communities,is nothing less,than ,amazing.
I wish that,after my few early trips,and ,wonderful, experiences,in your early years,I could’ve followed up with more visits,but ,life doesn’t always allow for everything u want.
But,due to your wonderful ,regular updates,through your amazing team. I have reconnected with u guys,and am ,and have been,rooting for all of u.
The work ,u are doing ,the passion ,and commitment, is fantastic.
So. Hopefully. U will keep on growing , teaching all of us more ,to love and nurture,our wonderful nature.
May u go from,strength to strength. And. Hopefully. I’ll be able to experience it ,through a ,future visit again.
Thank you for the beautiful video!
Nicely stated Dave. We look forward to returning next summer. LOVE THE VIDEO!!!
Thanks for the encouraging message Dave. You make me homesick!
I’m so happy to read this and know Londolozi is thriving. We have had two visits cancelled — 1st by Covid 19 and 2nd by the Omicron variant. Londolozi has been very generous in allowing us to maintain our credit with you and reserve another safari. Third time’s the charm!!!
Every single day I hold Londolozi in my heart and I know Londolozi cares for my heart. I have a treasure of great memories from my visits to Londolozi beginning in the ‘80s. 12 time zones away I can feel the warmth and welcome from everyone at Londolozi. Be well.
How beautifully put Dave, you have surely been blessed in more ways than one. We hope that the year 2022 will also be kind to you and your Londolozi family …And that we are able to experience a small piece of your paradise in person too 🙏🏻💗
What Dave Varty has transformed from a cattle farm , to the renowned Londolozi it is today , is remarkable. His heart, sole and mind is in that place, he loves nature and wants the animals to be free and have no boundaries. So absolutely astounding , he has transformed the land with new conservation ideas and implementing it to the best of his ability. Look at Londolozi now!!! It is paradise, the animals are beautiful and thriving. The bush (land) is so lush and full of abundance food for the animals. Hospitality at its utmost best. Londolozi Rangers and Trackers are on top of their game, ready to show the guest the best of Londolozi. Staff are well trained and efficient in the line of their duties. Well done Dave Varty!!!
Dave, We think about Londolozi every day when we get the wonderful and inspiring emails. But this season of challenges has had us thinking about the Varty family and the incredible team you have. There has never been anything but positives from all that we stay in touch with. There has been a feeling that your team was going to get through the constant “pivots” that so many of us in business have had to endure – no matter what challenges come your way. We pray that the world pandemic becomes a distant memory soon! We are some of those who have had to miss our visits to your piece of heaven, and will hopefully be there soon. The work that Kate and GWF are doing is incredible – almost 11,000 students a week now – Wow! The video is inspiring and the memories it brings are bright. Please send our best holiday wishes to your family and team – and Merry Christmas!
Thank you Dave for your always on target commentary regarding 2021. You have set the example for your staff and neighboring properties on how to survive when it seems too difficult. Kudos to the media team for the fantastic year-end video. I’ve already viewed it a few times. Looking forward to next year!
I cried through both Dave’s beautiful writing, and through this magnificent video of a magical place. This has been a difficult time and so many have suffered, but it has also been a time where we’ve seen the best in ourselves and in others. May Londolozi continue to inspire, to receive the love and support to maintain and nurture this corner of paradise. And to Kate and her team- you are real heroes! Sending you all love this festive season.
Thank you Dave for such a wonderful reminder that there is definitely a bigger picture out there. The experiences of the few occasions we spent at Londolozi will forever be etched on our hearts and it is truly as you describe, “a place where the story without end continues”.You have a wonderful team of humans and of course some pretty special Leopards! Wishing all the Londolozi Family a very happy festive season and beyond. John and Jenny Ridgewell
DEAR MR VARTY, THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM, THE PASSIONATE VIDEO WITH THE POETIC WORDS SPOKEN BY SUCH A PROFOUND VOICE GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS AND TEARS OF JOY. MY HUSBAND JOHANN AND I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE IN WORKING AS SCIENTISTS OURSELVES AND SHARE YOUR PASSION FOR ALL OF NATURE. JOHANN IS AN ECOLOGIST AND I AM AN ENTOMOLOGIST. RETIRED NOW. WE WISH YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND LONDOLOZI A HEARTFELT “HAMBANI GAHLE” FOR 2022. ELME BREYTENBACH
For some reason I’ve only just found this in my inbox, but better late than never! – and what a fabulous video. This blog certainly resonated with me, as I’d lost count of how many times I postponed my trip, but luckily I was finally able to get back to Founders last month, returning to London just 3 days before omicron kicked in, and the shutters came back down again. Now they’ve been lifted, I’m really hopeful I can make it back to you with my husband in February.
Merry Christmas! I love these blog posts and have enjoyed traveling back to the Sabi Sand last June/July….where being in the bush was a wonderful break from the woes of the world. Highly recommended, and hopefully will return to Londolozi in the future!
A really nice blog Dave, loved the pics and the video. So glad you all have made it thus far through this dreaded pandemic. Wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy 2022. I hope and pray you can finally get your “family” of international guests back “home” in the not too distant future.