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.