One of the most beautiful things I have found by working and living at Londolozi for three years now is how heightened your five senses become. You start to feel, smell, notice, taste and hear things more clearly. I would like to touch on four things I have recently started to hear more clearly as I spend more and more time in this private homestead – Pioneer Camp.
One of things I believe is what makes Pioneer Camp touch your soul is the staff. I have previously written a blog about the staff as they have had such a big impact on my happiness at Londolozi. It is a sort of surreal thought that when I go to camp in the morning the first sound I am greeted with is laughter. Loud, bold laughter. It always brings a smile to my face. Between the butlers, housekeepers, maintenance and chefs, everyone is sharing a story and a laugh as they get on with their morning duties before guests return from their early morning safari. The family that works together at Pioneer Camp have such a unique bond that nothing can get in the way of them having a good day, everyday. I try to remind myself that this laughter-filled environment does not happen at every workplace and is something to stay grateful for.
The quintessential sound of Africa, the Fish Eagle regularly graces Pioneer Camp with his penetrating call daily. This sound is hard to describe, but when you hear it you know you are exactly where you are meant to be. The Fish Eagle swoops above Pioneer Camp over the sand river hoping to catch his breakfast and we all reap the rewards of hearing his beautiful call. This call, no matter how many times you have heard it, is something I will never get used to. It is a sound that demands attention, a sound that will stop you in your tracks while you gaze upwards towards the sun in the hopes to put an image to the distinctive sound.
Just below where the Fish Eagle soars, a resident hippo lives. This particular hippo is not one for the lime-light and so often stays hidden from the cameras, however he does like to remind you that he is around by letting out a loud honk. It is recorded that a hippos grunt can be heard up to nearly 2 kilometers away and can create the same volume of that of loud thunder in a storm. This particular hippo is very vocal and is a constant sound that floats through Pioneer Camp‘s guests daily activities. I like to keep a pair of binoculars on the deck just in case this animal decides to briefly show himself one of these days, so far he has only blessed us with his array of grunts, wheezes and snorts.
Once the day is done, the sun has set and the regular daytime sounds quieten for the evening, a different sound begins to take center stage. A whooping sound can be heard in the distance, a recognisable sound of the bush, the sound of a hyena. This large carnivore has a distinctive sound that becomes your background music while you are enjoying your dinner on Pioneer’s lantern lit deck. The evenings back in camp after your afternoon safari are those of crackling fires, red wine, and relaxing conversations about all you saw that afternoon. The only interruption, if you can even call it that, is the nostalgic call of the hyena – one of the most iconic sounds of safari. This eerie sound can be described as a sort of laughter if you listen closely, however, I can assure you that nothing is funny. They make these sounds to communicate to one another, when fighting or even just out of excitement. Whatever the reason, sitting out on Pioneer’s deck area under the stars, you reap the rewards as the call of the Hyaena cements the indescribable feeling of Africa.
Sounds play such a big part of our lives that we may sometimes take it for granted. You can always show your friends and family pictures of your African adventure, or bring home souvenirs for them to put on their fridge, but you will never be able to accurately describe what you heard with your own ears. The sounds of the bush are yours. Something only those who hear it first hand are able to take home with them and I promise you it is something that will never leave your soul. But why take it from me? Come and listen for yourself.