One of the biggest privileges that come with working at Londolozi is the opportunity to go on Staff Bumbles. A “bumble” is the name given to a safari conducted by a ranger for staff members – one where we get to ‘bumble’ around just enjoying the wilderness after a day of work. When there is the space for it, a message goes out to all staff that there will be a bumble going out at a specific time and the race is then on to book a seat before the vehicle is at full capacity.
Amongst other things, I love bumbles because they are often a gentle reminder as to why people from all corners of the globe brave a long-haul flight to come and spend time in nature and specifically, spend time at Londolozi.
I recently had a really outrageous encounter whilst on a bumble. At the start of the drive, Ranger Barry Bath asked us what it was that we wanted to see. Naturally, a leopard was listed as one of the animals to add to the agenda, and so we set off for the afternoon to see how many items we could tick off the list. We had been driving around the northern part of the reserve for quite some time and with the daylight fading and the grass being as long as it is after the rainy season, our hopes of seeing a leopard slowly started dwindling.
Barry made a last-minute decision to change his route, and as we rounded the corner, there lay a leopard on top of a termite mound, fairly well hidden by the long grass. With lots of excitement flying around the vehicle, Barry turned the vehicle off and we just sat in her company. There was a bit of conversation that followed as to which leopard it was that we were viewing (when it comes to identifying leopards at Londolozi, one looks at the spot pattern above their upper lip). This leopard in particular also had a very distinct pink nose.
Whilst the others were still talking about the possible leopard it could have been, I pulled out my phone and began going through my picture archive from the last year, certain that I had seen this particular leopard before. Upon finding the image I was looking for I was struck by the most outrageous detail. The date and time stamp of the picture was 12 January 2021. The exact date of the bumble I was currently on, only a year later. With the exact same leopard – The Nkuwa Female.
One of two sisters born to the Nhlanguleni Female, both of whom made it to independence, the first intact litter to do so in 7 years.
Upon your visit to Londolozi, ask your Camp Team about their most memorable bumble. For some, it will be the time they got to put their feet in the river, for others it will be the time they had the best sightings of their lives. For most, it will be the time they got to spend with their closest friends out in the reserve after a busy day of work. Each staff member will have a different story to tell, best ensure your drink is full and your seat comfortable. We look forward to sharing our stories with you soon!