By Rhiannon Taylor, April 2019
Arriving at Londolozi immediately feels like coming home. Greeted with beaming smiles, we perch ourselves at the bar for a welcome drink and are introduced to the team looking after us for the duration of our stay. There’s something in the air at Londolozi, perhaps Nelson Mandela was right when he said “During my long walk to freedom, I had the rare privilege to visit Londolozi. There I saw people of all races living in harmony amidst the beauty that Mother Nature offers. Londolozi represents a model of the dream I cherish for the future of nature preservation in our country”. Derived from Zulu, Londolozi means ‘Protector Of All Living Things’ and we get the feeling of sanctuary and harmony right from the get go.
Londolozi was founded by the Varty and Taylor families in 1926 and to this day the Varty family still oversees every detail that goes in to the day to day running of the lodge. Checking in to to our suite its as though the safari adventure has begun. The suites are designed by the Varty’s and are the epitome of safari chic. Modern luxe furnishings are mixed with animal prints and there’s a separate lounge area and work station that overlooks the Sabi Sand bush where you can spot wildlife in the distance. Adjoining the lounge there’s a plush king sized bed beckoning for an afternoon nap and a huge bathroom with rain shower and bathtub. Outside there’s a plunge pool sunken in to a wrap around deck and we raid the mini bar, pouring a glass of South African wine whilst soaking up the afternoon sun.
Come late afternoon we head down to the lounge which is a breezy open space that flows out to an open air dining deck. We pause for a snack and tea before heading off on our first safari. Our guide and tracker are a great team and work together to find a leopard with a kill in a tree within the first hour. We’re in awe and incredibly grateful that we have this sighting all to ourselves. We snap away on our cameras and spend the evening watching this amazing display, as hyenas circle below.
Concluding our first safari, we head back to the lodge and sit down to dinner under the stars on the deck. We share in a fabulous dinner of fresh salad and perfectly cooked beef fillet accompanied by South African wines. The tables glow under the light of flickering lanterns and it’s magical to listen to the sounds of the bush.
The following morning we’re up at 5am and sleepily stumble to our morning safari drive. Greeted with an amurula coffee, we perk up and are treated to a spectacular sunrise. We spot elephants grazing, antelope bounding across the land and zebra playing. The bush is so full of life and we can hardly take it all in before heading back to the lodge for breakfast.
Downtime can be spent at Londolozi’s photography studio editing photos from your safari. Or at the Healing House, which is a tranquil spa that offers treatments using essential oils sourced from South Africa. We book in for a massage where expert therapists send us in to deep relaxation with a blend of oils chosen by us. We leave rejuvenated and ready for lunch.
Our guide has a special surprise in store and takes us on a short drive out on property down to the river. There lies a secret treehouse and we’re greeted with a spectacular picnic. We graze away on biltong, charcuterie, cheeses and fruit whilst sipping on champagne spotting hippopotamus in the river and spotting birds.
On our last evening following a safari ride filled with sightings of baby leopard and baby hyenas we have a communal bbq dinner with our rangers under the stars. There’s an open fire grilling up meats and veg and it’s great to mingle with other travellers.
The following morning we’re reluctant to check out. We feel part of the Londolozi family now and have witnessed so many once in a lifetime animal encounters. We leave with a tear in our eye and feel as though we’re leaving a piece of our heart at Londolozi. More reason to one day return.
We stayed courtesy of Relais & Chateaux.