From Timbavati we drive about 3.5 hours to get to Sabi Sand where Londolozi Game Reserve is located. It’s a pretty scenic drive as we pass through villages, towns and hilly landscape and our driver is a freelance tour guide, so he keeps us entertained the whole way.
A great place to stay in Sabi Sand Game Reserve is at Londolizi Founders Camp! We arrive at Londolozi in the afternoon – tired and excited for our new adventure. As we pull up to the lodge, we’re greeted by our John, who will be our ranger for our entire stay, and Cry who is the camp manager (if I’m not mistaken). We’re given a warm welcome and go straight to our room to freshen up before lunch.
Londolozi is located on the Sand River of Sabi Sand Game Reserve. It was founded in 1926, making it one of the original private game reserves in South Africa.
It’s a family run lodge with 24 suites spread out over 5 camps: Tree Camp (6), Varty Camp (2), Granite Camp (3), Founders Camp (10) and Pioneer Camp (3). Some of the camps are even members of Relais & Chateaux.
We’re staying at the Founders Camp, which seems more family oriented, and with a luxurious bohemian-chic ambiance that is deeply rooted in nature.
Our room is incredible. I’m blown away by the view of the canyon (or whatever you call it, I’m actually not sure). From the bedroom, we look straight from the bed out on the terrace and over the canyon. The terrace (or the deck) is pretty big and has a sitting area on one side, a plunge pool in the middle and outdoor shower tucked away in the left side corner. We don’t have to worry about anyone seeing us (except for the animals) as the terrace is completely private.
The bedroom has a king size bed with the standard mosquito net around it, a fully stocked mini-bar with coffee, tea, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, different nuts, etc. – everything is included. There’s also a large closet with complimentary mosquito spray, bug spray, robes, slippers, umbrellas, and a safe. The bathroom has both shower and bathtub.
Laundry service is complimentary, so the first thing we do is unload both of our suitcases onto the bed, because after 6 days everything needs to be washed.
THE FOOD EXPERIENCE:
The food at Londolozi is superb. As our morning game drive is at 5:45 AM, we begin each day with a quick coffee and something light to eat. Then, after we return around 9 am, there’s a hearty breakfast with both a cold buffet and hot plates that we can order from a menu.
For lunch there’s a small menu, which changes daily. My lunch choices are the sautéed octopus with lettuce and thin, crispy potatoes; chicken salad and lamb koftas served in a wrap.
Mr. A’s lunch choices are pasta with pesto and chicken, cheese board with and prosciutto ham and steak with fries.
Our dinners are enjoyed outside in the most beautiful “camp site” with candles and kerosene lamps providing a very intimate and romantic setting. Dinners are a combination of a la carte and buffet.
For our final dinner, we’re invited to dine with the head chef (Anna), our ranger and another couple at Londolozi’s wine cellar. They treat us to a 5-course tasting menu with wine pairings! Such a lovely surprise and treat that we won’t soon forget.
THE SERVICE AND STAFF:
All of the staff that we meet and talk to at Londolozi are incredibly friendly and warm people. They really do an excellent “job” of making everyone feel welcome and like family. You can tell that they enjoy their work and also take great pride in working for Londolozi. The way they speak about Londolozi is as if they’re speaking of their family, and not just a place of employment. It’s gives a great feeling and creates a very warm atmosphere.
Our ranger throughout our stay is John. It doesn’t take long before we discover his profound love for the bush and his incredible knowledge of everything that lives and grows there. Our tracker, Milton, is a sweet and quiet guy with an excellent sense of humor. Together, John and Milton make the perfect team!
During our 3-night stay, we see so many beautiful animals – Rhinos, hyenas, hippos, wildebeest, zebra, lots of birds, a wounded puff adder snake (a very venomous snake), crocodiles, elephants, a dead elephant being eaten by a hyena (the smell is awful), lions, leopards, etc.
We have 2 game drives every day – an early morning and an afternoon drive. Both drives last 3 hours including a stop for either a morning coffee or a sun downer drink with snacks.
Some of the most unique experience we have include:
Seeing a group of rhinos grazing. After a while two of them start fighting but it looks more like dancing.
We meet a lone male elephant eating off a tree, lifting his trunk and getting up on his back legs to reach the branches.
At night, we find a pride of sleeping lions with cubs. We’re so close to them that we can practically reach out and touch them. They aren’t even bothered by the light that our tracker shines on them.
Leopards! We find a female leopard with 2 cubs and follow them for quite a while as they walk through the bushes, seemingly completely unaffected by us and another truck that’s also there. They get so close to us and they’re so incredibly beautiful. It’s a totally magical experience. Seeing the leopards complete our “big 5”!
A mama giraffe with her less-than-2-week-old baby. We can still see a piece of the umbilical cord hanging from the baby’s belly, and our ranger tells us that it must be just a few weeks old because the umbilical cord usually falls off within 2 weeks.
We see another giraffe with two young ones, and then our tracker asks us “would you like to walk toward the giraffe?” Our tracker says that it’s perfectly safe and if we want to do it, we certainly can. So, we get out of the truck and start walking slowly toward the HUGE female giraffe. The mama giraffe keeps looking at us again and we can tell that she’s obviously curious, although alert. But after a few minutes they walk further away from us and we head back to the truck.
On our last morning drive, we spend about an hour tracking a leopard and all of a sudden, we find him! He’s a beautiful leopard walking along the drainage line, all by himself without a care in the world. He’s so handsome and moves with such grace and elegance. We lose him somewhere in the bushes, drive around on the other side and just as we think we’ve lost him for good – there he is! He’s found a comfortable spot in the shade where he’s decided to stay and rest. We watch him for a while before we leave him be and give him some privacy.
Our last game drive is almost cancelled due to a heavy rain storm that decides to hit us in the afternoon. Rain is obviously a blessing as it gives life to the bush and all the animals, and we keep telling ourselves this in order not to see it as our curse. We’re supposed to go out at 4 pm, and around 5 pm our ranger asks us if we want to go out. Yes, absolutely! It’s just water and we have rain ponchos to keep us dry, so off we go!
We seem to drive around for hours without really seeing anything. But then we find a group of ostriches – the only 3 living in the entire game reserve that belongs to Londolozi. And just as we’re about to head back to the lodge, we see elephants…
There’s a big herd of elephants rolling around in a mud pile in the middle of the road! Magically, the rain has stopped so my husband is able to film the entire séance, which is simply mesmerizing. I love elephants and I swear you can feel how much these elephants are loving this and you can see how happy they are just doing their thing – right here, right now. This must be what pure happiness looks like and if this is the last time I ever see elephants in my life (I truly hope it isn’t), I’ll be perfectly content having seen them exactly like this.
Our 3-night stay at Londolozi ends and we depart early in the morning to continue our journey and our adventure. It’s hard to leave after such a great stay and so many extraordinary moments, but we have places to go and other experiences to live.
We stayed at Londolozi Founders Camp from April 12 – 15, 2017.