Establishment: The wild animals at Londolozi
Location: Sabi Sands Private Reserve
We just came back from South Africa, where we’ve had a most amazing holiday.
It is true: South Africa is a wonderful destination, with much to offer. From paragliding in Cape Town, to sharks cage-diving in Kleinbaai, from exploring the iconic Table Mountain to horseback riding through a fynbos conservation reserve – our senses are still reeling from the multitude of experiences we’ve had.
Yet, without a doubt, our four-night stay at Londolozi Private Game Reserve was THE highlight of our trip.
It’s our first safari trip, and we wanted to plan one of those vacations the family will remember for years to come. We wanted to see the big five (easily, please), we wanted the kids to have an “education” and learn to respect nature, we wanted creature comfort, good food and genuine hospitality… After extensive research (and much debate), my husband and I finally agreed on Londolozi, a private game reserve located within the Greater Krugur National Park.
And so it was, that within hours of arrival at the lodge and on our very first game drive, we were in the company of the Mhangeni pride – four lionesses and their ten cubs. We stared, spellbound, as the cubs played and cuddled, occasionally glancing curiously at us, meters from our jeep. The African sun was setting, the sky a brilliant hue of orange when we finally left them after spending an hour observing the pride. It felt like a dream.
That dream continued through the next four days. Over our eight game drives, we saw everything that we had wished for – amongst the most memorable: a coalition of four grown male lions, the Mhangeni pride of 13 led by four lionesses playing and and grooming together as the sun sets, a herd of wild buffaloes along the riverbank as far as our eyes could see, a mummy rhinoceros and her baby basking in the sun, an elephant family drinking and playing by the water hole, even an elusive cheetah on the hunt.
And then, there was a most dramatic morning, where, right in front of our eyes, a leopard ambushed and killed a warthog, only for his meal to be robbed from him by a pride of lions. (It’s too long a story to recount here, please visit my husband’s blog for the full story and photos; my 10-year-old’s perspective of the event is recounted below). Our ranger and tracker, the talented Ntsako and Fanodi, were equally amazed by the turn of event – we secretly think, though, that they have a direct line of communication with the wild.
(To the left, Ntsako explaining to us where we are moving to in the afternoon game drive; to the right, the brave Fanodi, on his tracker seat.)
The game sighting we had at Londolozi surpassed all our expectations. At 7ha, Londolozi has one of the largest tract of privately-held land (which means a greater expanse of land for guests to roam) in Greater Krugur National Park, guaranteeing, on paper, fantastic chance for wildlife sighting. Without the well-trained, dedicated team though, we would not have had the experience we had. Ntsako, our ranger, has a wealth of knowledge about the animals, which he shared with us generously. Through his recounting, the histories of the wild animals at Londolozi came together, making each sighting all the more personal and meaningful. Fanodi, in his gentle and quiet ways, inspired with his courage – he was the one who was always hopping off the jeep to check the lion and leopard tracks! And because we’ve told the team Yy (my younger boy) likes giraffes, they were constantly on the lookout for these elegant giants. We came away, awed by the powerful, beautiful animals, awed by Mother Nature and her design.
The food and accommodation were top-notch, the hospitality accorded to us by our camp managers and butlers thoughtful. Teacher Emma (of Kids’ Den) was sweet and the boys enjoyed hanging with her. I will attempt to drop in another review on these other aspects of Londolozi soon!
For now, I’m enjoying my memories of our time spent in the bushes, for these certainly are memories worth a lifetime – I hope too, my children will cherish them for a long, long time.
Another exciting jeep ride in Londolozi: An Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
Silence. That was all we heard as we approached the Leopard on our second safari ride in South Africa. The Leopard lays on the grass, all quiet. Suddenly a herd of warthogs came running out from nowhere! The Leopard swiftly and strongly leapt on one of them. The rest (of the warthogs) retreated as the Leopard held on tightly to the warthog’s neck. A Hyena, attracted by the screams of the warthog, approached and looked at him from a distance, waiting. Then, like a bolt from the blue, six Lions appeared and scared the Leopard away. The Leopard had dropped his kill! The Lions began to tuck in…
My parents and the adults were all sorry for the Leopard. He did all the work but had nothing to eat. I felt sorry for the warthog – I think the adults have forgotten that he was the one who died.