Londolozi – The Land of Leopards

It’s been almost 2 years since I left Londolozi, having spent some of the best years of my life in the wild there. I’ve really been looking forward to seeing the people and revisiting the place I once called home – and now here I am.

The new Pioneer Suites are just brilliant and we’ve settled in and already enjoyed a few sightings of bushbuck, buffalo and kingfisher in the lush Sand River in front of us – a taste of what’s to come on the game drives over the next few days.

What a pleasure it’s been driving out this afternoon, with memories flooding back of wild happenings on virtually every inch of the reserve. Our guide, Sean and tracker, Andrea work so well together and delivered some special moments. First, we were positioned well for a superb sighting of elephants in the golden afternoon light before we encountered the Tsalala pride. Two of the lionesses have come off second best to hyenas and lost their tails making them look a little odd. Ever-changing lion pride dynamics can make it tough for even battle-hardened lionesses like these to survive.

We’re on morning drive, taking a break with a welcome cup of coffee when Andrea comes from tracking a leopard with the exciting news that he’s found it! It’s a male that’s hauled an impala up into a large marula tree hidden on the banks of a small drainage line. There’s a huge abandoned Hamerkop nest (a unique African bird) in a fork in the tree – the moment is set for one of those perfect questions, the barn door is wide open as the guide in the vehicle next to us fields the question: “Is that the leopard’s nest?” This happens far more often than you’d think and allows us the chance to have a chuckle with the poser of the question! As we do, the leopard shifts and some of the twigs from the nest fall to the ground. This tempts a hungry hyena to run in and scavenge fallen pieces of impala, but only to find dead dry unpalatable sticks. As we sit absorbing the elemental scene, Andrea skilfully spots a second leopard, one known as the Vomba female. We had been following her tracks earlier but Andrea had found the male instead. This led to the presumption that she had killed the impala, but with the male being almost twice her size, he had managed to steal the carcass from her.

We are having yet another incredible morning on Londolozi, just as I remembered it…

It’s now dinner in the boma – nothing better than standing around a fire with drink in hand celebrating the day’s adventure. The beauty of being outside is that every now and again I can look up, see the southern starry sky and remind myself of where I am. It ends up being as festive an evening as I remember.  The strum of the guitar, blank stares into flickering flames and distant whoops of hyena will always remind me of Londolozi.



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