For those that have visited us or been reading our blogs, you might recognise Ashleigh Chamberlain. With Ash’s zest for life and Londolozi, we thought we would pick her brain about her time with us. Ash also takes us through the unique features of Tree Camp – making it the perfect destination for honeymooners and couples. Over to Ash…
How long have you been a Camp Manager at Londolozi and what camps have you worked at?
I was formally employed at the end of February 2020 for the Cubs Den Manager position, helping families during their safaris. But as most of us are aware, in March of 2020 the world was introduced to the concept of “lockdown”. So, shortly after starting, I went home to Cape Town to wait out lockdown with the rest of the world. Thankfully, in November of 2020 I returned back to Londolozi for a fresh start. I had returned to fulfil a dual role of Cubs Den and Camp Management and as time went on this organically shifted to a permanent Camp Management role at Founders Camp at the start of January 2021.
Throughout my time at Founders, I had the opportunity to acquaint myself with other camps for lengthy periods of time, namely Pioneer Camp and the Private Granite Suites. I had worked at Founders Camp until June this year (2022), and then I started my journey at Tree Camp. With Londolozi welcoming back guests in early 2021, the was some shifting around and the bright side of it all was that I got to work across camps and teams and was given the rare experience of interacting with various teams across Londolozi that I otherwise would not have had!
What wildlife sightings have you seen from the camp decks?
Truth be told, I spend every day on deck hoping for a sighting, it’s my office after all. Therefore, the odds are in my favour!
Pioneer Deck: the perfect spot for elephants. The proximity to the Sand River and the lush bush is inviting to elephant herds. I have had many special sightings of elephants during my time at Pioneer.
Founders Deck: the home of the Giant King fisher! The first ever time I saw this special bird was on Founders Deck and it was to my delight that this was his territorial spot, so he was there and thereabouts for the duration of my time at Founders. A very unique bird and an even more unique call.
Granite Deck: Otters! A rare sighting of otters swimming in the river below the granite deck on a quiet evening in camp. It was such a special sighting of very playful otters. To this day, I have not seen another otter here and just knowing this, makes that sighting all the more special.
Varty Deck: I have only seen lions from camp decks on two occasions. One was doing a room check in at Founders and the other off of Varty Deck when I was showing guests the iconic Jackalberry tree. It caused such a stir and excitement that people let their coffee go cold to watch the lions cross east to west!
Tree Camp: for the camp that pays tribute to leopards, it’s only fair that my favourite sighting from Tree Camp has been a leopard walking towards the river contact calling. I have seen a fair amount of leopard activity at Tree Camp but this has been my favourite by far.
The sound reverberated off the rocks and into my heart and it was a moment I will hold onto for some time.
What do you love most about Tree Camp and what makes it a unique camp?
I think the same goes for all the camps I’ve worked at- the team. The team at each camp really makes one’s experience as they are the people you are with for many hours of the day, and all the days of the week. Although I love the neutral decor of Tree Camp, the leopard orchid growing out of the leadwood, the sound the pool feature makes during the evening, the heat the lanterns give off in the boma; the cherry on top will always be the people. From Portia to Vusi, Sphiwe, Maria and Daisy, chefs Temba Nomsa Thully and Thoko, my teachers in the form of Phan Mathews Maide and Rob and Jenna who paved the way for me- this team means more to me than the world.
What kinds of holidays would be suited at this camp?
Tree Camp, in my very biased opinion, is well suited for any kind of traveller. However, it seems to be very attractive to honeymooners. At any given time, there are a honeymoon couple or two staying at Tree Camp. I think it’s the perfect medium between our bigger camps, and our more exclusive camps, giving honeymooners the option to opt in and out of more social evenings with the option to be more private and romantic when needed.
What is your favourite lunch option at the moment?
The Caprese salad. Simple and delicious with a healthy portion of basil pesto- which is my favourite.
If you had to choose – would you choose dinner on the deck or in the boma?
Tricky question! Professionally, I would say it depends from guest to guest. Personally, I would say the deck. I love the way the iconic tree growing through the deck gets littered with lanterns. Guests are also always blown away by the transformation from day to night, with over 60 lanterns and tea lights added to give the perfect light and warmth to the evening’s atmosphere.
When do you think the best time of year to visit Londolozi is?
All year round? I really love the seasons when the river is flowing, which would be our summer months (December, January, February). With the rain, comes higher water levels and with that, more animals closer to the decks! Elephants often flock to the river beds at all times of the day, pied kingfishers are in abundance and general game just seems to increase in the area- which means even if I don’t get to go out on game drives, I still see many animals.
What do you love most about life at Londolozi?
I love that my life at Londolozi allows me to meet people from all corners of the earth and from all walks of life. Over the last two years of working here and being here, my life has been enriched by all of the connections I have made and continue to make. I often get the sense of fulfilment from my work days, and when I think of where that comes from, it boils down to the interactions I have had with the people of Londolozi- staff, guests, and behind the scenes operators!
I look forward to welcoming you to Tree Camp!