The Sand River is the life source of Londolozi and as matter of fact the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve as a whole. This river flows through eight different properties throughout the reserve, eventually reaching its confluence with the Sabi River in the Kruger National Park.
The River flows from our western boundary in front of all the five camps right through to our eastern boundary, from there it crosses into our eastern neighbours, bends south, and again can be seen further in the southeastern parts of Londolozi.
Water is vital for life to occur, and this perennial river offers an endless supply. The levels somewhat fluctuate throughout the year, however there is a continual water flow through these sandy banks. Often in the banks and areas surrounding a perennial river, life takes form in many shapes and sizes and the biodiversity is evident when stepping out of the vehicle and taking a closer look. Everything in nature has a purpose, and it is through each level of the ecosystem thriving that we can then see an abundance of wildlife (that guests travel across the world to witness) going about their daily lives while on a safari.
Driving along the Sand River provides some of the most phenomenal game viewing. In this blog, I want to take a trip down the Sand River and explore some of my favourite spots that are truly remarkable, and that I am lucky enough to visit whilst guiding here at Londolozi.
Starting right on the western boundary is one of my favourite parts of this river and this reasoning is threefold. Firstly, due to the sheer beauty that this part of the river has to offer. Often I will find myself stopped in the middle of this crossing point with guests listening to the sounds that surround us, water flowing over the rocks beneath the vehicle, the trill of the Malachite Kingfisher or the wind in the large riverine trees. Gazing around and lapping up the calm, serene wilderness around us.
The second reason I enjoy stopping in this spot is looking into the unknown, besides from the crossing point this section of the river is very difficult to access, and I often find myself pondering on the goings on that take place just out of our view and earshot that we will never get to witness.
The third reason for my infatuation with this part of the river is the fond memories it brings back of a specific sighting that many people dream of bearing witness to, and that is of a leopard jumping over a stream, or from rock to rock through the Sand River. In this instance, it was the Senegal Bush Male. With his attempt of expanding his territory further north, we watched the Senegal Bush Male on a territorial patrol which bought us to the river, all of our hearts were in our throats with the prospects of what could take place. We drove into the crossing and faced downstream towards a set of rocks that were perfectly situated for this male leopard to leap across. After sniffing around and scent marking he gingerly pawed his way through the toe-deep waters to these rocks and after much deliberation, made the leap that we were all so eager to see… it was over within split seconds, but it is a memory I will always cherish and fondly remember when crossing this part of the river.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
Downstream from this special spot, you’ll find an abundance of beautiful sections such as the boulders one can see from the various decks in camp.
If you continue further downstream, you get to another fantastic section of the river… The Causeway. Here you are often pleasantly greeted by a pod of hippos grunting, or a large herd of elephants heading down to the river on a hot summer’s day to quench their thirst. One also mustn’t forget about the myriad of aquatic and bird life that is constantly on display.
On a warm winter’s day, this section is one of my most frequented places on the reserve. Due to water being fairly scarce, this perennial source will often entice large herds of elephants to come meandering down to have a drink and cool off. There is always something very special and peaceful about being in the presence of a large herd of elephants.
The final section of the river that flows in the southern parts of the reserve is unlike any other stretch of the river we get to see on Londolozi. It is graced with enormous jackalberry, leadwood and mahogany trees that tower over the banks of the river, many of them having been there for several decades. Arguably one of the most impressive trees on Londolozi also lies along this riverbank, it is THE prominent Natal Mahogany, the texture and shape of the trunk as well as the grand canopy is a sight to behold. On a hot day, this tree’s shade has often been a place I stop for morning coffee. Turning off the engine and listening to the myriad of sounds while taking in the grandeur of all trees around me is a very special feeling.
The Sand River provides life for so many different species and organisms, and what I’ve mentioned are just a few of the special spots along this amazing source of water. On your next safari, I hope you enjoy spending time heading along the Sand River.