We are very fortunate to have the perennial Sand River flowing through Londolozi from our western boundary, in front of our camps and over our eastern boundary, spanning a length of roughly 6km. It eventually reaches the Sabi River in the Kruger National Park. The Sand River is the lifeblood of not only Londolozi but the entire Sabi Sand Game Reserve. As the Sand River flows in front of all the Londolozi camps, it separates our northern property – Marthly – from the southern property – Sparta. Because of this positioning, we are lucky enough to have several incredible crossing points through the river…
The Causeway is the only man-made crossing point at Londolozi and allows us to cross an area that would normally be challenging to cross without it, as well as access to the north when water levels may be too high to cross at the other crossing points.
The southern pool of water is very slow-moving, deep and sheltered. This makes it a haven for hippos and can often host groups of up to twenty at any given time, making it difficult to find better hippo viewing than this.
Continuing north on the causeway, reeds tower over you creating perfect habitats for abundant birdlife. The resident Fish Eagles and Giant Kingfishers are often viewed in the trees in and around these reeds. Pied Wagtails and Pied Kingfishers lurk nearby, too. The Red-faced Cisticolas and a host of warblers’ calls resonate through the surrounding areas.
Just before reaching the northern parts of the reserve, you are shown the true power of the Sand River where the main channel runs. A plethora of crocodiles and herons lurk in this water hoping for the odd tilapia to swim past. The Causeway is a truly magical place. For me, personally, there are few better places to watch a sunrise than in the middle of the Causeway.
The second crossing, Finfoot, gets its name from a sighting had many years ago of a very rare and unique waterbird; the African Finfoot. I’m yet to see one, but I always have hope of while crossing here! Finfoot Crossing allows for us to push the Land Rover to its true potential as one must navigate through an area with lots of water and sand. Many a ranger has fallen victim to this section of the river and got their vehicle stuck, earning the “Pink Pouch” as the prize.
Elephant viewing is always so spectacular at this crossing. You almost feel like you are part of the herd while watching these amazing animals move through the water as they feed and drink.
On either side of the crossing, you are greeted by some of the amazing riverine trees in the form of Mahogany and Jackalberry. Leopards and Lion often cross the river in this area and have provided some unbelievable viewing for our guests over the years.
The Flat Rock Male making his way across Finfoot Crossing.
Taylors Crossing pays tribute to the Taylor family who are part-owners of Londolozi. Out of the three crossings, this is my favourite! You don’t necessarily see as much in terms of big game, but the crossing itself is the most enjoyable to drive. Coming from the south, one will drive through the main river channel, navigating the underlying bedrock that sits in the below the surface.
Continuing north through this tight-winding channel, you become one with the reeds! Malachite Kingfishers are an enjoyable sight to see here, relishing in the smaller pools where they can fish freely.
Taylors Crossing has also provided me with one of the most amazing sightings I’ve had in recent months. The Senegal Bush Male leaping over the southern channel, downstream from the crossing itself. It is these types of sightings in beautiful areas, such as Taylor’s Crossing, that will be in the memory bank forever.
I guess it is one thing having the Sand River flow right through the middle of Londolozi, but having three unique and vastly different crossing points through the river allows a much deeper connection and interaction with the ecosystems that provide so much life to the reserve.
Do you have a favourite crossing point from your trips to Londolozi? Let me know in the comments below.
Filed under Leopards Photography Ranger
Love the causeway, particularly at sunrise. Hippos, open-mouthed crocodiles!
One evening, we actually watched a crocodile walk across it.
Actually I don’t think anyone has ever taken me across Taylor’s Crossing. It looks really beautiful. I like Finfoot Crossing, but because of all the birds one can see, I like Causeway Crossing very much. It’s fun to have a look at those crocodiles and the birds are always so relaxed there that one can take great pictures of them.
Thank you for highlighting the crossings over the Sand River Patrick, and I agree that being in the middle of a crossing at sunrise is magical. To choose a favorite is not possible for me as each one has represented a special moment in time. I do love the causeway because I spotted my first hammerkop there, watching him wait at the edge and then in a split second, catch a fish. The resident croc, jaws partially open, ready for a tilapia to swim into his toothy prison, always makes me smile. But then, Finfoot crossing offers more excitement, the Landy, rocking from side to side as it slips over the rocks, and thankfully, we’ve never become stuck. Taylor is beautiful, a special place to stop midway, just because. So, no favorite for me – they’re all wonderful!
Patrick Londolozi is rich in water ways with three crossing and the sand river. So much benefit from the water and off course the scenery is to die for. Beautiful foto of the Senegal bush male jumping over the rocks. I have not been to Londolozi yet, but appreciate every email I get with these stunning foto’s of the leopards and all the wild animals. Londolozi is a paradise all on it’s own.
Patrick, thanks for the tour of the crossings of the sand river.
Fun tour of the crossings, and great images Patrick!