Londolozi, Protector of all living things, is a sanctuary for wildlife and humans alike. Visiting the website gives you some idea of what you can expect when you visit our little slice of heaven, but it just doesn’t quite do it justice. The true magic of Londolozi lies in the intangibles, and I’m going to try and give you a truer idea of what lies in store for you when you take the leap, finalise you’re booking and step out of the plane/Land Rover/transfer vehicle onto Londolozi soil.
You’ll be greeted by your dedicated team, all of them buzzing with the excitement of what is to come. We’ll all introduce ourselves and you’ll glance down at our name badges in an effort to try and lock in all of our names. You’ll invariably fail but that’s ok, we’ll all be around, and you’ll soon get to know us very well.
Your bags will be whisked away to your rooms, and you’ll be taken on the grand tour of your new home for the next few days. You might feel a bit snackish and in short-order something absolutely delicious will appear before you whilst you sip on a [insert personal beverage of choice here, we’ll have it for you], feeling life’s worries drifting away as you gaze off of the main deck, potentially watching a herd of elephant grazing below you, or a journey of giraffe marching proudly across the crest up ahead.
Then you’ll head to your room and unpack your bags, finding everything you’ll need (and probably some you won’t, but we like to be prepared) tucked away in various nooks and crannies, ready for you when the time comes. You might want to wash off the dust of the road, and maybe you’ll want to do that in one of the outside showers, feeling the warm sun on your skin, feeling refreshed and alive with the anticipation of the afternoon drive ahead.
You’ll head back to the deck where a variety of refreshments and sweet treats await. Your ranger will meet you there and likely give you a little welcome briefing on how exactly it’s all going to work out there. You’ll down the last of your iced coffee and head up to the car park where a fleet of land rovers is parked, ready to head off into the wilderness. You’ll get acquainted with your vehicle and be reintroduced to your tracker, another name that you’ll soon become very familiar with. You’ll get settled in, and another refreshment of your choice provided to you and you’ll be off on your first drive. And then the real fun starts.
Nothing will prepare you for the plethora of life that awaits you. Now, as we know, nothing in the bush is guaranteed so I’ll talk in hypotheticals here. A flock of blue-headed Helmeted Guineafowl might be scampering about as you drive out of camp and you’ll giggle at their ridiculous antics, the males taking themselves far too seriously and chasing each other off of a particularly promising patch of grass. Then you’ll hit Fluffy’s Clearing (don’t ask) and there you’ll likely find an array of general game. Wildebeest cavort, swinging their large heads, bucking and kicking, full of energy whilst zebra graze placidly nearby, skin shivering to keep the flies at bay. Impala group tightly together, always at least one head up and looking for danger while in the background a giraffe bull reaches high into the boughs of a torchwood tree.
You carry on past Maidies Dam where a bloat of hippos stares warily back at you, their nostrils closing before their head suddenly whips backwards under the water. A Little Grebe fishes nearby, its tiny body glistening each time it returns to the surface. A radio call comes through, tracks of a female leopard are heading north just up ahead. Your ranger tells you that you’re going to go and give the truck up ahead a hand trying to track down that female. The excitement begins to build.
You move ahead, the tracker, seated on the front left of the vehicle, combs the road ahead for any sign of the nearby predator whilst you and your ranger comb the surrounds, hoping fervently to get a glimpse of the wily cat. Suddenly, your tracker’s hand shoots up, stop. Your vehicle quickly comes to a halt, veering ever so slightly to the side so as not to disturb the tracks. The tracks head that way. The tracks look fresh. Could you be about to see one of these most beautiful creatures? The search goes on…
At the next junction, your ranger and tracker hop off to work out which way the tracks are heading. It takes a few minutes of searching but they find them, she’s changed direction slightly, she’s probably trying to avoid this clearing full of impala that would alarm and draw attention to her, and the last thing she needs is that hyena that’s patrolling nearby to catch wind of her position. The search goes on…
Suddenly, there’s a crashing sound to your right. Your ranger switches off the vehicle to get a better idea of what’s going on. You can cut the tension with a knife at this point, could she be right there? Your question is answered when out of the bushes bursts a herd of impalas, running at full sprint, some throwing their hind quarters high into the air in some crazy-looking dance.
What is going on?? Judging by the look in the eyes of the team looking after you, they have an idea. Their suspicions are confirmed as, just up ahead, bounding out of the treeline, appears an incredible sight, a pack of wild dogs in hot pursuit of the impala. Your tracker leaps off of his seat and dives into the car, the chase begins. He elevates himself in the front seat to gain a better view, one hand gripping the bar in front of you and the other holding onto the windscreen mount.
He’s prompting directions wildly while your ranger is on the radio, updating the rest of the team. The vehicle bucks beneath you as you clutch the bar in front of you in a white-knuckled grip. All is chaos as the car veers around termite mounds and trees, the engine revving high, dust streaming out behind you. “DUCK!” and “Hold on!!!” are yelled at you constantly, as well as somewhat pointlessly (as if you wouldn’t already be doing both of those things!)
You’ve only got a visual of one of the dogs as the rest have shot off in various directions, and he’s closing in on his quarry, white-tipped tail streaming out behind him. Another vehicle enters the fray, a cloud of dust billowing behind it, the guests a mirror image of yourself, wild-eyed and caught somewhere between laughter and excitement. Laughter at how much fun this is, the speed you are going while trying to keep up with the snarling canines flying ahead of you, excitement or rather anticipation as to how this is all going to end and sadness at the potential demise of one the fleeing herbivores. It’s a rush like no other.
The next thing you know, the impala has somehow vanished and the pack regathers, tongues lolling as they check in with one another, hoping that one of them might have got something worthwhile and would be willing to share a little piece of that morsel (they regurgitate for one another, your ranger explains amidst an interpretive recap of what has just happened.)
By this point, the adrenaline rush has faded somewhat and fortunately, the sun is just approaching the horizon as you’ll probably be looking forward to a drink to steady those jangled nerves. Your team finds you a beautiful spot overlooking the gorgeous Sand River. You all gather at the front of the vehicle where an array of drinks and delicious snacks await you. Your ranger pours you a G&T, a must-have on any safari, and you sip the ice-cold beverage as the sky morphs from gold to pink to navy blue and Venus emerges from the heavens above.
Your safari has begun on the highest of highs and you can’t wait for what lies ahead…