Londolozi has many sacred sights.
There is a place on Londolozi that seldom sees the tread of a human foot and most definitely has never seen the tread of a tyre; a hidden jewel, a place of special beauty amidst a plethora of natural splendour, my favourite place on Londolozi.
Part of the allure lies in its inaccessibility; one can only access the area by getting off of the car and walking along a long and winding trail, through a grove of wild date palms where vigilance levels need to be high – and emerging into a wilderness cathedral of beauty.
Guides and trackers take precautions by assessing the area before taking making their way along this trail. Shielded by a wall of wild date palms and roofed by towering Matumi trees is a network of rivulets that weave around several small islands, the only way of reaching which is by taking off your shoes in order to navigate the shallow waterways.
This simple necessary act, the removal of your shoes, is one of the things that make this place so special. The reconnection with the earth is experienced in feeling the coarse white sand crunch beneath tender feet and the liberation of the soul in feeling the cool water rush between toes and swirl around ankles. The return to childhood as you balance on rocks worn smooth by the perennial river and hop onto the softly yielding grassy bank, all felt through the soles of your feet, has a powerful effect on anybody who is open to the idea.
From the central island, you are surrounded at head height by a messy confusion of natural debris, the flood line of the Sand River. This tangled marker is renewed and added to each year by the summer rains when this particular spot is absolutely inaccessible (unless by the most determined scuba diver).
During this time the dross of winter, collected from upriver by the rising water levels collects against the thick network of Matumi pillars as they brace against the onslaught of the rushing water. What is left behind is a somewhat more chaotic element of beauty, a juxtaposition to the pure serenity of the place, a reminder of recent turbulence. I like to think that it is a reminder that everything and everybody has tumultuous times, and that they too will pass, and that even the scars that remain can be beautiful given time.
Above the flood line, nestled in the fork of a tree is a massive Hamerkop nest, utterly ridiculous in its proportions when you see the little creature that built and inhabits it. Various tracks criss-cross the area, the most exciting of which is definitely the Cape clawless otter, an animal I am still waiting to see cavorting on the bank as we emerge into the clearing. Littering the banks are shells of freshwater crabs and mussels, both of which make up the diet of the Otter and Hamerkop.
Small fish creep along the edges of the river, careful not to stray too far into the current, while above mayflies drift lazily through dusty columns of sunlight filtering from the canopy above. Dragonflies zip madly through these same columns as if to chastise the mayflies for their laziness while in the background a nyala ewe stares intently back at us, confident enough with the river between us to not bolt but unwilling to completely ignore our foreign presence.
Simply being in a place of such deep beauty and tranquillity cannot fail to have a profound effect on anybody who is willing to experience it. I’ve not walked with anybody through this place that hasn’t been awed by its splendour and even writing this has me excited to go back and explore it further.
It is just one of a myriad number of incredible places in the paradise we call Londolozi. Where is your favourite place?