Beautiful blog Shan … the memories of how much fun you and Matt had on our special family time at Londolozi brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye ❤️
I’ve always believed that we are all the best versions of ourselves when we are at play. I feel so energised by my surroundings, and I find that I draw most of my inspiration from this very place I stand in today – right here at Londolozi. We see play being demonstrated at Londolozi in many ways, yet I’m not sure how often we compare this sense of “wild” playfulness to our own lives. The best way to channel this wild playfulness is through bringing your children on safari.
I’ve come to realise that out here in the wilderness, whether aware of it or not, we are all learning through some sort of playful journey. We are some of the lucky few who witness the tentative exploration of a leopard cub chasing after a butterfly, the adventurous souls of Londolozi’s younger family members in the creche, and not to mention some mischievous antics from a troop of vervet monkeys tumbling around through the camps. I’d like to think that we are all learning life lessons through playfully experimenting with life, and all that it has to offer.
I’ll always consider myself incredibly lucky to be living and working out in the wilderness, for a couple of reasons. I was extremely fortunate as a child to spend winter vacations exploring Southern African game reserves with my family. As a youngster I viewed the bush as a playground.
On a handful of these safari vacations, my family and I visited Londolozi. My brother and I developed a dream. Together we dreamt of returning and starting our “big grown-up life” together out in the bush. Moments at Londolozi will always be at the heart of our fondest memories together as a family. On these occasions I remember that, very quickly, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the African bush, little did I know that years down the line, I’d find myself working and living out in the bush at Londolozi following a lifelong passion. I can’t recommend bringing your children on safari enough.
“Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein
We’d spend hours on end in the Cubs Den with Jess MacLarty. Jess taught us every very single thing there was to know about being bush-wise as well as what it takes to be a great game ranger. She took us out track moulding near Fuffy’s Pan. We’d race to see who was able to sit in Life Sibuyi’s tracker seat, pretending that we possessed the wisdom and ancient art form that is tracking. “I’m reading my newspaper” is what Life used to say every morning as we set off over the Varty Camp cattle grid on our morning drive as he scanned the roads for evidence of lions on their morning territory patrol. Forming an incredible relationship with your Ranger and Tracker is one of the many unique and special experiences families get when bringing children on safari. Every evening without fail, Dave Varty would ask my brother and I for a list of what birds we’d seen that day. My parents couldn’t believe it – we spent more time looking at the tree canopies than we did scanning for leopards!
It was all just so much fun, and our annual bush trips were always associated with the greatest play time I could have asked for. Upon returning from a safari trip, or looking forward to one, my brother and I would raid our parents khaki gear, proudly place a Londolozi cap on our heads, binoculars in hand, camera strapped to our backs and bird book splayed out in front of us – playing “ranger ranger” as we used to refer to our game.
Was it the animals, the people, or simply the wild that seemed so playful? Well, I’d like to think it’s a combination of each of these factors. As a child, almost anything is turned into a game, with fun being the number one priority. Africa is oozing with playful creatures, landscapes, and adventures just waiting to be explored.
Every moment spent in in the bush is a journey. I learnt a great deal about the wilderness through playfully experiencing the bush. Whether that was because I saw animals tumbling around their surroundings, or simply whilst driving through the wide open plains pointing out the best possible tree to climb – it all fuelled my sense of wonder. Sitting up front on the tracker’s seat made me feel just like Life Sibuyi – there was just too much fun to be had on a safari and I see so many kids now, just as I was, partaking in similar traditions – it always brings a smile to my face!
I’ll always be grateful to that little girl who dreamed big, and who never stopped playfully moving through her life, she led me here – and for that, I will always be grateful.
Thanks mom, I have you and dad to thank for all of the magical times we had here together as a family!