I must preface this post with the fact that there will be a part two to this blog, as the nature of living and working out here at Londolozi, there is never time to stop learning, and that is the beauty of this place. Whether it be learning about the natural world, about the different cultures you encounter while being here or about the specific people, the learning curve is endless.
The reason I say that there will be a second part to this blog is that in my short guiding career I have already learned so much and I think it will be great to reflect in a later post if what I actually learned aligns with my expectations while getting started.
Trails and Training
As part of becoming a guide at Londolozi, you go through an in-depth training course where you are not only equipped with a wealth of information but are also given several opportunities to be present and experience what this place has to offer. One of my highlights of the training was the opportunity to embark on our walking training. It started with a primitive trail which was led by two guides Shaun D’Araujo and Barry Bath.
The trail entailed us spending three nights out on the reserve taking everything we needed – the goal being that we left no trace that we were ever there. It was an unbelievable experience, immersing yourself in the place that we grow so fond of. This, too, taught me so many lessons that are covered in Barry Bath’s blog.
Linking up with Life Sibuyi
Upon becoming a guide I had the privilege of being paired with a tracker – a man who has more than 20 years of experience in the African bush at Londolozi. Life Sibuyi is one of the kindest humans with the most infectious spirit I’ve ever met. He often starts off as what comes across as relatively quiet and timid but rapidly becomes excited to impart the wealth of knowledge that he has gained from all his years of experience. So with this in mind, I have the huge privilege of working with this man for up to 10 hours every day. It is here where my second phase of learning began…
Often a man of few words, Life.Before we had guided our first set of guests together, Life and I sat down so we could discuss how we, as a team, wanted to deliver our experience. After all, I had so much to learn from how he operates out in the bush. It is here that he taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:
“Listen to the bush, and it will provide”.
Throughout my time guiding he’s taught me that it is as simple as turning off the vehicle and listening to something as small as the trill of a mongoose or the bark of a kudu which could lead you to the animal you’re looking for.
The second “Life” lesson is to stop and look up before making a decision, and this proved very evident a couple of days ago when we were tracking the two leopard cubs of the Nkoveni Female. Having followed the tracks for a while, all of a sudden the tracks disappeared, and instead of jumping off the tracker seat to try and establish where the tracks had gone, Life scanned the area around us first, only to see both of the female cubs lying on a termite mound about 30 meters off the road.
A gorgeous female who is found to the east of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
A stunning young female with a very similar spot pattern to her mother, the Nkoveni Female. Litter still completely intact March 2022.
Also young and playful but rather with a spot pattern of 3:2. She is slightly bigger than her sister.
I feel like both of these lessons can be translated not just when I am guiding but also into my everyday life. Life has a fantastic way of giving me a nudge in the right direction whenever necessary. I look forward to spending many more hours soaking in as much of the knowledge that he has to offer.