The final stop on our South African vacation was Londolozi. Located on the Sabi Sands Reserve, Londolozi consists of 5 camps, all with their unique, luxurious vibes – Pioneer Camp, Varty Camp, Founders Camp, Granite Suites and Tree Camp. Sabi Sands is a private game reserve located next to Kruger National Park, which is infamous for containing the Big 5. The Big 5 animals are known as being the hardest animals to hunt on foot. Although, with the rising problem of poaching, hunting isn’t much of a possibility in South Africa anymore. The Big 5 are elephants, lions, rhinos, cape buffalo, and leopards, and we got up close and personal with all 5!
Being on safari is such a unique experience in many ways. A typical day looks like this. You receive a wake-up call at 5am. At 5:30am, you head to the main lodge for coffee and a light breakfast. Just as the sun starts shining bright, you head out into the bush for morning game drive. Most times we would tell our rangers what we were hoping to see. And without fail, they would make it happen. Around 10am we would head back to camp for a big breakfast (think: French toast and eggs benedict). The rest of the day was ours to play. At 1:30, we would reconvene for lunch and at 3:45 we would be ready to go for afternoon game drive. One of my favorite parts about safari is sundowners. This is where you stop for a mid-game-drive drink and watch the sunset. Sunsets are more beautiful in South Africa. Period. Some say that safari drives get boring after a while, but personally, I could sit on that vehicle and chase after animals all day long.
On our very first game drive at Londolozi, we encountered a herd of elephants! 20 elephants in all shapes and sizes!
Then, we saw 31 giraffes eating and playing in a field!
Londolozi was full of incredible experiences. One morning, we stumbled across two female lions and their cubs. I am not exaggerating when I say that we watched this little lion family for over 2 hours. Our rangers were incredibly knowlegable about behavior, the meaning of each lion call and the dynamics of lion prides. While we had so much fun watching these lion cubs play around like puppies, it was just as fascinating learning about how these lions interact with each other and why.
Perhaps the most unique of experiences happened while watching a leopard. Leopards are unique in that they kill their prey and take it up into a tree at dusk to keep it away from other predators such as hyena, lions and vultures. One afternoon, we found a leopard sleeping under a tree next to 4 kills. FOUR! That’s very unusual (and greedy, if you ask me) of leopards. Naturally, the leopard was very full and sleeping, so we decided to circle back later in the evening. Fast forward a few hours and the leopard was up and moving! Our rangers said that if he grabs the neck of his prey, he is about to scale it up into the tree. Within minutes, the leopard began carrying his dinner up the tree! It was SO COOL. Cool enough that our rangers pulled out their phones to video. It was simply amazing to witness a creature leap into a tree carrying a massive animal in his mouth. Now you see why “I can’t believe it’s all real”!
As you can probably infer from my social channels and this blog, I really enjoy photography. It is not one of my strengths, but it is something I love. There is a photographer on staff, Matt, at Londolozi who is in charge of renting out nice camera equipment to guests at the camps. Guests can also schedule one-hour appointments with Matt, where he will take your top 10-15 photos and help edit them. I of course took advantage of this! And voila, I now know how to edit my photos well-ish!
We eventually came to terms with the fact that we, sadly, couldn’t stay in South Africa forever. While at Londolozi, my dad kept mentioning a spot where he wanted to watch the sunset on our last night. On our final evening game drive, we decided to stop for sundowners and our ranger began to drive us to THE spot. We reached the top of a hill and I thought, this is as good as the sunset is going to get. I almost said something to our ranger, Chris, but decided to trust his judgment. Shortly after, we rounded a corner to view the most beautiful dinner set-up. So lovely, in fact, that I immediately got tears in my eyes. On a hill perched above the river, with a backdrop of pride rock and a pink sunset, were twinkling lights, champagne, a cheese board, and a fire pit. And so much more. Above all, I was floored at the thought and care Londolozi had for us in setting up such a beautiful dinner.
There is simply no other way to put it. We are in love with South Africa. I’ll be back. Soon.