For 97 years, people from every walk of life have been experiencing Londolozi. Each person’s experience is different. And each time someone visits, this place has an effect on them that is uniquely theirs.
How can you explain using words something that can only really be felt, and, in fact, exists in a wordless space of experience? Something that is intangible.
An unseen frequency.
Boyd Varty, 4th generation custodian of Londolozi, author, and wilderness healer shared this with me recently about what he felt the frequency of Londolozi is:
Why does wilderness have such a profound impact on human beings? It’s a question of such psychological and physiological scope that one flirts with an impossible frontier even to begin to try to answer it. At Londolozi it is this meditation on wilderness that has helped develop an ecosystem of experience.
The Londolozi experience cannot be defined by singular activities. Rather, it is the way these experiences fold into each other. Londolozi, like a wilderness, is a relational space where over generations deep ties to the land the animals and each other have been fostered. This long and careful tending is a sacred act, and an act of love. This sacredness infuses the space. Unseen yet felt as if one walked into a cathedral of the wild.
We have watched the incredible healing, transformation, joy and fun that has emerged in the ecosystem of Londolozi. Friendships have been forged and love affairs are born and renewed. Londolozi is a place of stories and adventures. Friendships and campfires. Londolozi has weathered storms and emerged more tightly bound to the ways of nature and community. Bonds forged during countless hours in the bush connect rangers and trackers to the land. The Londolozi camp functions as a Futuristic African Village where the spirit of ubuntu informs every decision.
From the outside you might say Londolozi is famous for leopards and its exceptional wildlife. You might say that it is the land that sets the stage for the magic. We know that it is none of these things and it is all of them. Like a wilderness it is impossible to put your finger on what causes the profound impact that Londolozi has on a person’s life.
One has to sit quietly and contemplate how a human being and a place make meaning with each other.
We don’t try to explain it.
We simply know it as…The Londolozi Effect.
Experiencing Londolozi in her uniqueness is, for me, akin to the way I feel about art. Viewing art is completely subjective. The shape of a line or the texture of a brush stroke can evoke something completely different in two people. Where a piece of art can bring someone to tears, the same piece could no more make the next viewer stop in contemplation. Artwork stirs the soul in a particular way. No two expressions are interpreted the same way. Londolozi is her own unique piece of wild art. The effect that this wilderness, this frequency, has on people is as subjective and emotive. And, as such, each definition of The Londolozi Effect becomes exclusive to each person.
Over recent years, we have witnessed a fundamental shift in the behaviour of our family members and our repeat guests who have come to visit us. Recently someone referred to their annual trip to Londolozi as a pilgrimage – a time out from their busy, everyday life, to recharge, reconnect and be a part of a living model for change. What a beautiful way to describe the Londolozi experience… or as they coined it…#TheLondoloziEffect.
And that got me thinking… what is #TheLondoloziEffect? What do other people feel when they come here? What do I feel when I am here? I wanted to see if I could unravel the unseen mystery that is Londolozi. What is this Londolozi lore? What is this unending campfire story? Some pretty tough questions if I am honest. But, I began this quest with an open mind, an open heart, and a sense of deep curiosity.
Some say #TheLondoloziEffect is a term used to describe the transformative impact that a stay at Londolozi can have on guests. It encompasses the unique combination of luxury, wildlife experiences, sustainability, community involvement, and personalised attention that guests receive during their time at Londolozi. People often describe feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and deeply connected to nature and the local community after a visit. The Londolozi Effect is said to be a lasting and positive change in perspective and outlook.
A friend recently reminded me of the poem by Walt Whitman called Song of the Open Road. It was first published in 1856, 167 years ago, and 70 years before Londolozi was born. The 15-stanza poem is an optimistic paean to wanderlust. Whitman exalts the carefree pleasures of traveling, encouraging others to break free from their stifling domestic attachments to join him. I can’t help wondering what Whitman’s interpretation might have been of this wilderness, and what he could have written about the beauty of the landscapes, the sunrises, the enchanting leopards, and the people that punctuate all that is Londolozi. What would his #TheLondoloziEffect have been?
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. Strong and content I travel the open road.
You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute.
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me. I inhale great draughts of space.
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine. I am larger, better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied— he realizes here what he has in him,
The past, the future, majesty, love — if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.
Whoever you are, come travel with me! Traveling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires, The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first. Be not discouraged, keep on, There are divine things well envelop’d.
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
~ Exerpts from Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman
I think it’s going to take some time to unravel this tapestry. Perhaps we should take the year to explore it. To really get to know all aspects and layers of how a place like Londolozi truly affects people. How it affects you reading this. How it affects those of you who have visited us and have become part of the family. Or those of you who long to return, or yearn to experience this place for yourself for the first time – not just through words or imagery or video, but in your soul. With your feet in African soil.
It’s certainly is an impossible idea that I could fully explain what #TheLondoloziEffect may mean to you. So, perhaps I’ll stop trying to describe it and instead pose the question back to you: What does #TheLondoloziEffect conjure up for you?
I invite you to leave your definition in the comments section of this blog, or email us at email@example.com with a few (or many) words. If you know someone who knows and loves Londolozi, please ask them, too. I would so love to hear your (and their) interpretation of the unseen frequency of Londolozi.
I hope you’ll join us this year on the journey to uncover the many layers and iterations of #TheLondoloziEffect. It will be a journey to remember…
Sherry and I are returning to Londolozi next month for the 6th time. The reason for our return is the Londolozi effect. For me, it can be described in one word. Peace.
Peace is the feeling I get when the light aircraft is in its final approach to the air-strip. The anticipation of seeing our friends again. The joy of seeing the big 5 in one game drive (Yes, it actually happened last trip).
Peace is the feeling I get watching the wild animals at rest, between hunts. The delight of seeing lions reunite and literally smother each other with playful hugs and affection.
Peace is the lesson I learn while enjoying a sundowner watching the gigantic sun set and cast a magical light over the land. It is at this time that I reconnect with nature and fully realize that there is always something new to learn and respect. There is something bigger out there…
I can’t wait to see you all again!
I am both tingling and pensive over this eloquent and beautiful post!!! Thanks Amanda for compiling all the thoughtful narratives. Now I need to reflect upon my own!
You’ve written a powerful and thought-provoking article today Amanda, and whilst I have thoughts about my own experience of the “Londolozi Effect”, I’m going to reserve writing anything until after my next visit that occurs in a couple of weeks. For now I’ll just say Londolozi is a place where I feel more whole and connected to the earth, embracing Ubuntu in its purest form.
Amanda I am sure each individual has their own experience at Londolozi, being it long or short vacation. There is so much to do there and so little time to see everything you plan to see. The wild life and environment is to die for and the open fresh air that fills your lungs with new vibrant energy. The staff are there at your beck and call, food so delicious and appetizing, well displayed on every occasion. Peace on earth that can be experienced only here at Londolozi.
I have been thinking about the Londolozi effect for a day now. While I have never experienced Londolozi in person I have followed each days blog for over a year. The immersion into the bolts has give me the sense of this wonderful place throughout the words and pictures that are shared. My motorized wheelchair causes just enough inconvenience to not allow visits to many places in the world. Not to mention a lack of funding, haha. Each daily blog sharing an update on the most recent goings on at Londolozi bring me closer to our natural world. All I can say now ism that the Londolozi effect is real and present in my life. A great big thank you to all the staff who share their experiences and lives so that I might enjoy a small taste of Lonsolozi.
From 1982 through 2021 I have found family at Londolozi. The warm welcome at the airstrip begins my return to the family. I find my heart and my soul at rest. Searching for and finding a breeding herd of elephants reminds me of bonding and protecting one another. Each of 10 visits to Londolozi has been special and rewarding. In Hawai’i we speak of ‘ohana’ which is family and I have a ‘ohana’
While I have only visited once so far back in 2018, I certainly felt #TheLondoloziEffect. In addition to everything said above, when I reflect on it now, it was a deep, unintentional inner child healing. It took me back to my authentic self (which is so much more obvious when we are children, before we have been completely subjected to familial and societal conditioning to become working machines to feed Capitalism) where I was one with the earth, nature and the energy of the Universe. There is nothing to worry about as the fantastic Londolozi team takes care of your every need and comfort like a mother would. You are not responsible for anything besides showing up, and when you do you are rewarded with an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, love, and connection to all living things… When you lock eyes with a bull elephant not 20 feet away from you, you realize you’re both made of the same stardust and that feels like pure magic. Our stay was one of the most sacred experiences of my life. I can’t wait to come back again someday.
The Londolozi effect…hmmmm. Life changing each time. I will be returning in September for te 7th or 8th time-I have lost track. Everything from the animals, the people, the food, the smells leaves a memory that if triggered takes me back. I watch the videos and follow the blog and most times it brings tears to my eyes. I feel connected to nature and diconnected from technology and the chaos of the day to day when at Londolozi I get excited when sitting outside after lunch and hearing the sound of the small planes landing with new guests-excited for them. The unexpected happens everyday. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen a leopard in a tree, or a lion on a kill each time I just can’t believe how lucky we are to witness all the incredible creatures in their environment. It will 5 years since I have been and the Londolozi effect still effects me