From the Dunes to the Delta
The moment you first glimpse the raw beauty of Africa, when your eyes drink in the magnificence and you smell the air, touch the earth, and feel the land breathing all around you, you’re transported. The subtleties of life engulf you and the mesmerising effect of silence, away from a city, gives way to previously unheard natural noise . It is at this exact moment that a feeling of intoxicating proportion emerges, it is only now that you know you are finally in tune with the world under your feet and all around you.
The above is something I believe resonates true to all who have been to Africa. Some feel it more than others, but the core of its meaning is the result I would love to achieve with every single guest that we take on safari. I hope all who are reading this and have been lucky enough to visit Africa, are taken back to that first connection with it. Doing this for a living often means that I yearn for this feeling whenever I am away from the bush. For those who have had their own experience with Africa, the pull to come back is deep and never-fading.
I recently finished a safari with the Kennedy family and I hope that their story, and images below, evoke similar feelings within all who read it…
Our first stop was Londolozi Private Game Reserve, and more specifically, Founders Camp. We were immediately made to feel right at home, being offered a cool refreshment on arrival and marvelling at the surrounding luxury. After a bite to eat we were given an orientation by our guide, Alex, and tracker, Lucky. After we were all well informed, we set off on our first game drive! Buzzing with excitement, we waited with baited breath to see what wonders Londolozi would bestow on us.
A fantastic first afternoon provided some phenomenal sightings of all things big and small, starting big with an elephant herd drinking at a watering hole. The regal matriarch of the herd actually strolled over to us and with her big intelligent eyes, radiating fifty-plus years of wisdom, stared at us for a few seconds, realised we were of no threat to her and then calmly continued on her quest – what an experience! We also bumped into some White rhino, all four of them eating peacefully whilst also keeping an eye on us. A truly wild moment shared with such beautiful and vulnerable creatures. Our next mission was to find a spot for sundowners (South Africanism for having a drink whilst the sun goes down). We found the perfect location and settled in, whilst a journey of giraffes closed in on us in hopes of gate-crashing!
The next few days turned out to be filled with the most successful wildlife viewing of the entire safari. We were spoilt with some incredible lion interactions, namely the Ntsevu pride and their cubs (plus one of their fathers from the Birmingham coalition) who were particularly photogenic. We also stumbled upon a hyena battle, with three adults cornering another who attacked one of their cubs – pretty brutal but amazing to watch! Londolozi is famous for its leopard viewing and therefore did not disappoint in this department, gifting us with numerous sightings of these spotted beauties.
A top highlight, however, had to be the unexpected and extremely rare encounter we came across involving an African rock python. We were fortunate enough to come around the corner just as it struck and caught an impala lamb! We heard the birds flush, alarm calling and then, on closer investigation, saw a frantic tangle of coils and kicking hooves. Very sad to witness, however this is the brutal truth of life in the African bush.
After an amazing few days in Londolozi, we were off to Namibia, and more specifically, Sossusvlei. The desert is such a harsh yet beautiful location, which truly has to be experienced firsthand. Wilderness Safaris’ Little Kulala Lodge was our base from which to explore the region. Our adventures included searching for epic sunsets, hiking the dunes aka “Big Daddy”, exploring Deadvlei, ATV’ing in the concession and seeing things from a new perspective in a hot air balloon. It really was a splendid few days and having a Christmas here was a first for me, a memory which will remain for a long time!
From dry, harsh desert to the watery wonderland of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, we arrived at our next camp. It’s quite surreal to be in the desert in the morning, then a few hours later on a boat in the world’s largest inland delta! Wilderness Safaris’s Little Vumbura was to be home for the next few nights. Having done so well with game viewing at Londolozi, we had time to focus on some other activities. We explored the myriad of habitats on vehicles, in boats and on traditional mokoros! The water has such a calming influence, and to spend time just drifting the channels is magical.
We had not seen cheetah or African wild dogs yet, so these were at the top of the list to search for. Well, just after stating their rarity, we saw two different packs! On top of this, one had a den site with new born pups. We were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of these pups, but not before they hurried down into their home. We also spotted the famous “Golden pack” of Vumbura, yet worryingly it was headed straight towards the other pack’s den site! Expecting an all out battle, we waited on the fringes with anticipation… Luckily for the dogs at the den site, the Golden pack changed direction and the encounter was altogether avoided.
A major highlight of visiting the Delta has to be a helicopter scenic flight. To see this incredibly green, watery paradise beneath you gives true vision of how vast, wild and breathtaking it actually is. Probably my favourite activity in the Okavango… except for maybe the chance to have a swim in its waters! Oh, and let’s not forget when our guide, Lettie, just abandoned ship and jumped into the water unexpectedly… what a legend!
After the most memorable and life-changing journey with such a special family, how do you put your appreciation into words? All I can say is thank you to the whole Kennedy family for being open to Africa and all its charm, beauty and spirit. It truly does reward all those who absorb it’s magic. I hope that you all had an individual moment in which you felt this transcendent connection which lasts a lifetime!
Until next time…
Chris & the Safari Architects Team.