Written by Sophie Earle

It’s hard to describe just how truly magical Londolozi is – how it seems like a separate universe compared to our modernized lives. Not only will seeing wildlife in their natural habitat put you off going to zoos or other enclosed animal reserves for life, but it will make you appreciate just how striking and breath-taking Earth really is. Seeing a herd of elephants playing in the river, or a female lion surrounded by her baby cubs puts our lives into perspective and makes us realize how much we take for granted. The fact that these amazing animals exist, the fact that we are given the opportunity to witness them is something we should always be grateful for.

So why Londolozi? Why not the Kruger National Park or another popular game reserve in South Africa? There are many reasons that differentiate Londolozi from other places and one of those reasons is their love for family values. Londolozi was founded in 1926 by two families whose dream was to ‘demonstrate that wildlife tourism was economically viable in a land torn apart by racism, division, and fences.’ [1] It was not formed as a popular tourist attraction that showcases modern technology. The Londolozi wish is to promote conversation through safari and highlight the natural and harmonizing beauty of Africa and it’s wildlife.

This foundation of a family is carried through into the relationships you form with your guide and tracker. I have been to Londolozi four times now and each time I have cried saying goodbye to the staff. There is no superior barrier between staff and guests. You spend an enormous amount of time with your guide and tracker. So much so that they become a huge part of your experience and true friends by the end of your trip.

Another reason that makes Londolozi stand out from the rest is their leopards. It’s the leopards of Londolozi that make the reserve world famous and create this breath-taking vibe. For some other game reserves, it is highly unlikely you will see a leopard; for Londolozi it is one of the few animals that you will not only see a lot of but will approach inches towards you, creating an enchanting life experience. As it has been around for over 90 years the animals are used to the sound of the Land Rover’s and use to humans taking their photos. So much so they will even come up to the cars to say hi! Compared to a zoo or circus event, this is the animal’s choice – No staff at Londolozi would force an animal of any kind to do anything. It is about observing wildlife in their natural habitat and not interfering with the balance of nature.

So a typical day at Londolozi is simple:

A 5am wake up call, a game drive at 5.30am to watch the animals at sunrise, a delicious breakfast, between game drives you can go for a village walk, have a massage, practice yoga on a deck listening to the animals, you’re back out for a sunset game drive at 4.30pm and you end the day with a feast of fresh food listening to the sounds of Africa.

But no two days are the same. While the guides will tailor your experience to meet your needs, the African bush is ambiguous! You can never be certain on what you will see. Our first safari we drove around for approximately three minutes and were greeted by a leopard in a tree at sunset. The following day we drove for two hours and saw nothing. The final day we were eating breakfast on the deck and some hyenas walked across. The bush is a magical experience that cannot be taken for granted. Seeing no animals, to seeing a baby leopard or hundreds of impalas is all part of the Londolozi experience of making it as natural as possible. We as humans have become so impulsive and demanding that it is easy to become impatient. There are over 16,000 hectares of wilderness to cover with your guide and tracker – you will see wildlife! We can’t demand to see every animal just as we would at a zoo. We are the guests – they are not there for our entertainment.

When going on any kind of vacation you might escape your chaotic 9-5 job, you might turn off your mobile phone for a few hours or finally read a good book. But there’s nowhere in the world like Londolozi that allows you to connect back into your peaceful and honest selves. The barrier between staff and guests; wildlife and humans are broken. You are all at one in Londolozi and that is what makes it so unbelievable extraordinary.

 

[1] https://www.londolozi.com/en/about/90-years-of-londolozi/

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