LONDOLOZI; A ZULU WORD MEANING, 'PROTECTOR OF ALL LIVING THINGS'
This is a genuine family-run safari business that has truly earned its high ranking stars and stripes over the years. This is a business that to this day is run with an enduring passion. A passion that is shared by all its staff members from top to bottom including wizard-like guides and rangers, who bring to life every aspect of your time in the bush, right down to the hard-working and personable service and front of house staff.
(Cover photo above left to right: Joy, our exceptional Shangaan tracker, Solveig from Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions and Nick from Londolozi).
(Nick, working his magic, pointing out yet another exotic birding sighting for Sandgrouse Travel's Jonny, an avid amateur ornathologist - we always recommend our guests enjoy a safari by private game vehicle, this allows for them to not only enjoy game sightings uninterupted, and to go after exactly what they wish to focus on but also get the most out of their time with the guides and trackers).
Theirs is a shared passion, collectively in all things tackled, and this passion has set Londolozi aside from the plethora of competitors within the area, allowing the property to earn one of the most respected names in the industry.
(Londolozi; known to be the best place in the Sabi Sands area to see leopard, and the Sabi Sands is known to be the best place in Africa - put simply, there is no better place on earth to view leopards in the wild.)
(Savouring sunrise in the tranquility of the bush at Boyd Varty's sensational Londolozi in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa).
AN ENDURING FAMILY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BEGUILING AFRICAN BUSH, THE MAJESTIC WILDLIFE THAT LIVES HERE AND BENEFITS TO BE SHARED WITH ALL
Being family run and remaining very much under the custodianship of those who are truly behind the original vision for the project as a whole, the revenues generated today, as clients from across the globe enjoying a luxury safari holiday, truly go back into the wider conservation project and ambitions. These include not only managing, maintaining and protecting a healthy ecosystem and wild habitat for the animals, but equally important perhaps, providing a real and thriving local community for staff members. Surplus revenue beyond that, clearly go into continually keeping the impeccable lodges up to date, allowing Londolozi to remain at the forefront of the industry.
YOUR SAFARI HAS THE POWER TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF BOTH PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE OF THIS REGION
(The main lodge at Londolozi Founder's camp - during a Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions stay).
We believe that the shared and collective passion here is something guests inadvertently pick-up whilst staying at Londolozi. If they so wish, they can in fact learn much more about the positive impact their own visit has by touring the back-of-house community on-site at Londolozi, this impressive back of house set-up includes a vast staff village, health clinic, educational facilities, school, mechanics garage for the fleet of Londolozi Landys, and of course and industrial kitchen producing sublime foods for the various lodges etc.
(The Londolozi consession is vast and is an area that remains teeming with truly magnificent African wildlife and game. Sandgrouse safari goers heading to Londolozi are in for a real treat.)
Besides the positive work being done both front and back of house at Londolozi, this particular high-end lodge has a unique history within the South African safari industry - in part due to the fact that Londolozi traces its roots back to 1926! A lineage like that is hard to replicate anywhere in the safari industry, across all of Africa.
(Sunset vibes at Londolozi in the Sabi Sands, South Africa - few things beat golden hour in the bush).
The lodge has always been a pioneer, so it's fitting there's a camp called Pioneers within the portfolio, and early on, the lodge was frequently visited by Nelson Mandela, during what were formative new beginnings of a post apartheid era nation. Here 'Madiba' as he was affectionately known, saw first hand how South Africa could collectively work together for a better outcome.
LONDOLOZI, REMAINS THE BEATING HEART OF THE SABI SANDS PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Londolozi is situated in the very beating heart of the world famous Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, on the south western corner of the Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sands has long had the reputation of being the best place in Africa to encounter leopards, this is true and each time we have visited we have never not seen leopards. That being said, the rangers, guides and trackers work hard to deliver. Londolozi, being at the very heart of the Sabi Sands, and having one of the largest concessions within the area, has a very high density of leopards. In part, due to the fact that the property has a long river frontage, it is here where the habitat is perfect for leopards, as well as various other key species which come to drink and benefit from the lush riverbank vegetation.
(Elephants come to cool off in the Sand River which flows right infront of the Londolozi logdes. Solveig watches as they pass right infront of her following the matriarch's lead).
Our most recent visit to Londolozi was, as we expected, exceptional. Our game viewing here was unparalleled, with the check-list being obliterated over the course of our 4-night stay. Not only where the big game and plains game sightings overwhelming, but the birding here along the Sands river was truly exceptional during mid-November. At this time of year, migratory species are returning to the area for the warm summer and our stay was marked by the call of the 'Woodlands Kingfisher' among many others.
(Reaching for the bird book - for Jonny from Sandgrouse, there's almost a constantly need to check the dazzling sightings seen, particularly in springtime and early summer when migratory birds return to Londolozi and the Sabi Sands.)
"The Varty's who own Londolozi, are huge enduring Land Rover fans - their love affair with this rugged vehicle goes back to the beginnings of their inception, much like our own. Any fans of this iconic British bushwhacker, are clearly kindred spirits of our own! The Londolozi Land Rover fleet is vast, and some of the vehicles are especially adpted to for photography - please speak to our team to discuss your requirements on booking. The management team at Londolozi are in the early stages of looking at having their fleet converted to hydrogen power, in the constant search for a carbon neutral footprint"
(Nick and Joy in their Land Rover, heading into the bush early one morning with the Sandgrouse Travel team. This particular morning, we were heading to one of the most special areas on the Londolozi concession, a dry riverbed where some of the areas oldest trees stand like ancient sentinels providing overwatch on the bush).
An short interview with Nick, our personal ranger and guide from Londolozi:
Nick Tennick works as one of the extraordinary wildlife rangers or guides at Londolozi, in partnership with Joy, his tracker. Together, the pair provide guests with an unforgettable safari viewing experience, both from the vehicles and on-foot with bush walks, should guests wish. Below, Solveig from the Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions team, catches up with Nick asking him a few questions about what makes his job at Londolozi so special.
Solveig from Sandgrouse: Nick, we can't thank you and Joy enough for taking such good care of us in the bush on our recent 4-night visit to the incredible Londozlozi.
It was a huge pleasure for us to discover even a little of what has made Londolozi so very special since its inception in 1926. Your expertise and the time you and Joy both took to showcase the very best of the reserve, in the few days we had with you, was so illuminating and so appreciated, so thank you!
How long have you been working in the bush, Nick and what was it that hooked you on the bush!? Did you always know you wanted to be a ranger working outdoors with some of the most incredible animals on the planet?
Nick from Londolozi: It was an absolute pleasure having you guys stay with us at Londolozi and Joy and I really enjoyed showing you around beautiful Londolozi! From a young age I have always been very interested in wildlife and the protection of these special creatures, both big and small. It was a gap year in 2013 in Zimbabwe, where my passion to become a Game ranger was really fuelled.
(Sundowner drinks in the bush, a ritual not to be missed but savoured! Gin and Tonic seemed to be the order of this particularly hot evening in the early summer heat).
Solveig from Sandgrouse: It is amazing how experiences when we are young stay with us, and leave such lasting impressions and impacts - those days in the bush in Zim must have been incredible.
It sounds like the average length of time people work for Londolozi is really long - this surely is a reflection of how special it is to work at Londolozi. What makes living and working at Londolozi so special for you and your colleagues, Nick?
Nick from Londolozi: I have been working here for two years now. And its the special community and the sense of belonging that makes working at Londolozi so special. Regardless of your background, beliefs system and culture, people live in harmony out here and there truly is nowhere else like it. I am lucky to call Londolozi my home and I hope to do so for the foreseeable future.
(Londolozi takes African inspired interiors seriously - infusing modern and traditional seamlessly with an elegance that is hard convey in photos).
(Time spent alone with Elephants in the bush reminds us that we as humanbeings, belong to the earth, and that the earth is not ours to simply do as we wish with - we owe it to our spirit brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom to protect these incredible habitats and eco-systems).
Solveig from Sandgrouse: That's really nice to hear. I have been struck by how content all the team seem here - it really is as if one big famliy.
I know the wildlife is also off the charts good! It's one of the best places on the planet to have encounters with leopards, so I have to ask, do you have a favourite memory of an encounter with one of these majestic big cats?
Nick from Londolozi: Leopard encounters at Londolozi can be spectacular. I have many favourite leopards that roam the reserve and They have let Joy and I into their world on many different and unique occasions. One particular sighting that stands out is watching the Nhlanguleni female lead us back to her den about a year ago, where she had been keeping two Leopard cubs that were about 6 weeks old at the time. They were still suckling and could barely walk a few steps before stumbling around their mother. It was the first leopard cub I had seen and a sighting that will stick with me for a very long time.
Solveig from Sandgrouse: Encounters with leopards are so special - they are definitely one of my favourite animals in the bush to.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like you have an incredible year round sightings of all animals, but in your opinion, what is the best time of year to be in the Sabi Sands?
Nick from Londolozi: It largely depends on what your biggest interests are. I would say the winter months (May - August) are best for predator activity as the weather is a lot cooler. Birding is best in the summer time with all the migratory birds retuning to the southern hemisphere from September onwards. There are a lot of babies born at the beginning of December (Think of warthogs, Impala and Wildebeest) which is also a very exciting time of the year as predation increases over these few weeks towards Christmas and New Years.
Solveig from Sandgrouse: So there's something for everyone, at anytime of year really! So great to know, particularly with guests who might be limited to seasonal or school holidays.
You may remember, I love dung beetles, I find them utterly fascinating. This is I feel quite a niche interest! Is there a specialist interest of yours in the bush that really excites you? Some of your colleagues will be into creepy crawlies, colourful birds, wild grasses or trees, big cats, elephants etc... Have you a particular interest in the bush that tops it all for you, Nick?
Nick from Londolozi: Wild Dogs and Birding are my top interests!
Solveig from Sandgrouse: Wild Dogs are so cool, we were lucky enough to track a smaller pack last year at dusk, they move like ghosts but at such a constant rate! It is an experience I cheerish.
What is it do you think, about the bush that makes it such an intoxicating place to visit, and keep visiting for safari goers? And is that the same thing that led you to live and work in the bush?
Nick from Londolozi: The natural beauty of the bush and the unique opportunity to witness diverse ecosystems and wild animals in their natural habitat is breath taking. It truly is a once in a life time opportunity because every single day is different in the bush. No two game drives are the same, even for me doing this day in day out, and that what I think makes it special. The excitement, the anticipation as well as the beauty.
Solveig from Sandgrouse: It's so great to hear that, and that even doing this day in day out as guide and ranger, the magic and allure of the African bush remains, growing if anything rather than dimming.
Nick, thank you for taking the time to answer a few of our questions, it really was a privilage for us to be welcomed into your 'office' with you and Joy on the game vehicle. Its very kind of you to take the time to follow up with us with this short interview. We look forward to following the Londolozi Blog (linked), and particularly reading your entries documenting the most interesting sightings and encounters.