There are so many reasons to love Londolozi, but if we had to pick just one it would have to be the Leopards of Londolozi. Elusive and solitary, leopards are usually a rarity on safari. Yet in 1979 John Varty—co-founder of Londolozi—and naturalist Elmon Mhlongo confounded all odds by developing a relationship with a mother leopard. She tolerated, even welcomed their presence near her, until she died twelve years later. But during this time a dynasty of Londolozi leopards had been born, and over the past thirty-one years they have thrived in this area: creatures of the same easy-going—nearly habituated—stripe as their progenitor. As the dynasty enters their fourth decade, the sense of kinship between man and leopard grows ever deeper, and you’ll surely cross their path a few times while on safari.
This wondrously huge reserve is spread along the cool banks of the Sand River, in the very heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. One of Africa’s best-loved lodges, Londolozi is a family run operation that has been practicing ecotourism for 85 years. The root of the word Londolozi is a Zulu word that means “protector of all living things” symbolizing the Varty family’s commitment to provide a sanctuary for flora, fauna and humans—both visitors and locals.
One incredible property, five exquisite and unique lodges. There’s an ideal fit for every personality:
Each of the three spacious suites is lined with windows and large French doors that open directly onto a heated infinity pool, which seems to drop right into the Sand River. Sumptuous charcoal-coloured fabrics and silver fixtures serenely complement the huge granite rocks that flank the camp. Large rock tubs are placed in hidden points along the river, crafted of this same granite and blending perfectly into the landscape, providing the pleasure of an outdoor bubble bath beside a gently babbling brook, shaded by indigenous trees.
The three suites at Pioneer are the most secluded of all the Londolozi properties, making this the perfect destination for honeymooners or anyone else seeking the exquisite luxury of utter privacy and communion with nature. A Victorian undertone lends depth to the clean lines and sophisticated Ralph Lauren feel of the décor, all awash in the shifting dappled light that shines through the leaves of the camp’s 500-year-old ebony trees. The camp can also be converted into a bush home, with glass sky walkways installed to link each suite, turning it into a private getaway perfect for families or groups of friends.
These six suites each feature glamorous details such as standing candelabras, earthy notes like pebble-inlaid floors, and luxuries like spacious bathrooms with large stone tubs. Your expansive lounge and bedroom are furnished in simplistic safari style—dark wood, orchids and lanterns—and open out onto a generous wooden deck and a plunge pool that overlooks the lush banks of the Sand River. Huge trees encircle this camp, providing ample shade to one of the most romantic and sophisticated safari destinations in the spectacular African wilderness.
The two charming suites and eight delightful chalets are raised off the ground and shaded under a cathedral of trees. All have private swimming pools and wooden decks, overlooking the wildlife cavorting in the riverine bush. Varty Camp is not only a phenomenally gorgeous property; it’s also a piece of safari legend—the campfire here has been burning for over 85 years. Thus this camp celebrates the Varty family heritage: earthy décor represents their love of nature, and comfortable elegance reflects their personal taste and gracious warmth.
The seven chalets and three suites are scattered along the riverside at intervals, allowing for maximum privacy. Each boasts classic black and cream fabrics, mahogany beds, deep leather couches, military chests, compass safari lamps, a private riverside veranda. “Bush bohemian” describes this place best: sumptuous throw pillows and soft fabrics invite one to relax, maybe even nap, and casually elegant furnishings make bare feet and laughter feel just right. This camp is an excellent fit for families with children.
Varty Camp and Founders Camp both accommodate children four and older. Children four and older can also be accommodated at Private Granite Suites or Pioneer and Tree camps if the entire camp is booked.
This land is plentiful, and game drives yield a wealth of sightings. Or bush walking expeditions bring us closer to the natural world, smelling the fresh, inimitable mix of flowers and South African earth as we follow a local guide who teaches us the tribal uses for the plants. Fishing in the river is another relaxing way to spend the afternoon—the camp chef will cook your catch to your taste for dinner, if you’d like. If the land speaks to you to such a degree that you’d like to spend a night camping out in the bush, this can also be arranged quite easily.
Yoga and massage tempt us back at the camp. The instructors are trained in Iyengar, Ashtanga, Jivamukti and Tripsichore yoga disciplines—as well as Pilates—so there is something for all tastes, as well as a gym with an extraordinary view of the reserve. Clay pigeon shooting, a cinematography centre and visits to the local Shangaan village are also on offer… and of course, a nap on the lanai next to the burbling river is always de rigeur!