When you see the Southern Cross for the First Time

Fifth Game Drive, Afternoon, Day 3 at Londolozi

We returned to camp for breakfast, then yoga (Jen), naps and massages (everyone else), and lunch, where we continued to see wildlife, even from the deck.

Springbok below the deck

Elephant and two baby elephants spotted (see circle) on the ridge (zoomed photos below).

After lunch, some of us took a walking tour of the village where Londolozi’s workers live.

Sculptures by a local native artist.

Our team, Sean & Joy, on the Ranger and Tracker Board at the village:

Our guide at the entrance to the village. The fence behind her shows the construction of a boma’s walls, and she is explaining that the tree at the entrance, which is smooth and shiny where she is touching it, was also touched by Mandela when he came here to visit after being released from Robben Island.

The path through the center of the village is dedicated to Mandela. When he came here, he was impressed by the people working together in harmony, he spoke with every individual in the village, and he saw his first lion outside of captivity.

Each of these dwellings belongs to one worker. The designs that ring the buildings indicate the job of owner: above, a cook; below, a tracker.

Inside this enclosure is a recreation of a traditional Shangaan (the local people) village.

This is a structure that would have been used to store grain and food, to keep it up off the ground. The large wooden “mortar and pestle” in front would have been used to grind seeds and grain.

What we’ve seen elephants eating – marula berries.  About the size of a ping-pong ball.

We thought the accommodations could not have been more lovely — yet, Founder’s Camp is one of the lower-priced of the five Londolozi camps.

For the afternoon drive, Chuck and Dave expressed an interest in heading up toward the ridge that we could see from the deck, to look back on the camp.  We began once again by passing the hippo-croc pond.

Sunbathing, mouth-breathing croc.

Next we headed for the Sand riverbed, where we found a thirsty elephant.

This river valley was just beautiful.

While the focus was off, Dave couldn’t resist including this leopard-turtle pic. (He swears the turtle was moving too fast to capture it.  Hmmm.)

As we ascended to the ridge…

You can see one of the camp buildings in the shade just to right of center on this photo:

Wait — there are termite mounds in this photo! Younger ones, probably a few decades old. They seem to be impala-colored.

Above is one of the views we were looking for: Founder’s Camp, with our dining deck, as seen from the ridge across the Sand River.  After this, we headed back down toward the riverbed. The water you see below is at the little dam where we surprised the hippo on the very first night.

I am very sad that I don’t know the name of this beautiful turquoise bird.

The terrain of this evening drive along the riverbeds seemed almost prehistoric – like the dioramas you see in natural history museums. You could imagine a dinosaur passing by, a pterodactyl soaring above.

All of these drives were such a blissful way to spend time – being driven around magnificent landscapes, keeping your eyes peeled for animals and birds, breathing in fresh air, learning new things. There was something wonderfully nourishing about it. It made me think of going on Sunday drives with my parents, just to toodle along and look at the world around you, out at a horizon, or at the field next to you –  a cleansing balm for eyes used to staring at phone and laptop screens.

The small, rocky hill in these photos is just outside Londolozi land — a piece of property that they really wanted but weren’t able to buy because someone in the landowner’s family had his ashes spread there.

I believe that this is a Marabou Stork.

White-fronted bee-eaters taking a dust bath.

The impossibly adorable white-fronted bee-eater above; brown snake eagle in three photos below.

Last sunset…

Very pregnant-looking zebra. We saw quite a lot of these, which led to our “zebra birth viewing” request of Sean.

We had our last sundowners overlooking the Sand River.

After the sundowners, and a little more driving around, Joy thought he heard some lions calling.  We barreled along the edge of Londolozi land and Joy spied a lion very far away in a clearing. Unfortunately, besides being so far away that it was hard to really see without binoculars by us non-trackers, it was off Londolozi land.  We all concentrated our brain waves to get it to come towards us, but for some reason that didn’t work.  Once it got dark, Sean capped the drive back to camp with a stop in an open area under a gloriously dark and starry night, revealing a very milky Milky Way, with the Southern Cross at the end near the horizon.  Which of course led to a weak attempt at singing the Crosy, Stills, and Nash song.

Once we returned to camp, we had a surprise: candlelight dinner in the “boma”.

A boma is a traditional circular wooden enclosure and is used for protection, cattle, community functions, etc.  Afrikaans use the word kraal. Londolozi’s boma is a large circular outdoor enclosure next to the lodge, the entrance and interior of which were lit with candles and lanterns.  A campfire burned in the center, and drinks were served as we sat in comfy deck chairs surrounding it.  The tables were beautifully set, there was a full bar, and a large food serving station.  We had the pleasure of Sean’s presence at dinner, where we continued asking him questions, and he continued to answer them. We kept our eyes open as long as we could – but we knew 5 AM was coming again, and with it our last game drive.

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4 Responses to When you see the Southern Cross for the First Time

  1. Linde Muller says:

    So enjoyed this – I love Londolozi! The beautiful blue bird in your photos is a Woodland Kingfisher

  2. Susan Ketigian says:

    Thank you for sharing your travels with us!

  3. Barbara Naydeck says:

    Fantastic! Wish to do this sometime, and you are showing me how! Happy travels!

    On Mar 1, 2018 4:17 PM, “Dave and Jen’s Travels” wrote:

    > Jennifer Brown posted: “Fifth Game Drive, Afternoon, Day 3 at Londolozi We > returned to camp for breakfast, then yoga (Jen), naps and massages > (everyone else), and lunch, where we continued to see wildlife, even from > the deck. Elephant and two baby elephants spotted (see c” >

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