Ringing in New Years with Leopards and Family at Londolozi

Ringing in New Years with Leopards and Family at Londolozi

Londolozi is the place where I fell in love with safari. It is the place where I saw my first leopard. It is the place where I met a ranger named Callum who fetched me from the airstrip and transferred me to Founders Camp. That seven minute moment led to a date in Johannesburg a year later. It is fair to say that I have raved about Londolozi to all who will listen. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that my Dad suggested we ring in new years overlooking the bush on the Varty deck after reading the Londolozi blog about their annual New Year Eve’s party. We booked our rooms nearly a year in advance and in the meantime, my parents read the blog daily in anticipation of the trip and I fell in love with that ranger who met me at the airstrip. 

We arrived on December 30th with safari gear and party clothes packed in our soft-sided duffles. After two and a half days of water-soaked game drives at Ngala Tented Camp, we were relieved when the sun broke through the clouds as our plane landed on the Londolozi airstrip. By the side of a plane in the middle of the African bush is not the typical setting for meeting your girlfriend’s family, but it seemed fitting that my boyfriend and family would meet one another for the first time at the exact same place where I met him. While that meeting was the highlight of my trip, my family was at Londolozi for the leopards and an epic New Years Eve party.

Londolozi never fails to disappoint when it comes to leopards. My dad had only seen two leopards in all of his African travels and my brother had yet to see one. Imagine our euphoria when fifteen minutes into our first drive we encountered the Mashaba young female perched in a Marula tree. Intent on doing much of nothing, minus repositioning herself, after an hour we left her and to see Nhlanguleni female who had also draped herself over a Marula tree branch. As soon as it got a bit cooler she descended and made her way through the bush. It was an auspicious start and the beginning of leopard sightings galore from the Flat Rock male who (likely) had killed and hoisted a young leopard cub that was not his own into a tree (I was too emotional to photograph the scene), to the Mashaba Female unsuccessfully trying to tempt the Piva male to mate, to the snarling Tamboti female, to the Xidulu female her youngsters.

Of course, leopards were not the only reason we chose to spend New Years at Londolozi. Dressed in all white at the aptly themed Savana Nights a South African/Cuban hybrid we counted down the final seconds of 2016 and toasted 2017 with South African Cap Classique. The party was replete with rangers and camp staff performing skits, delicious Cuban food, and copious drinks. Overall it was the kind of party that embodies everything great about New Years Eve. This is coming from someone who generally finds New Years Eve to be an overrated let down. The party is a no expense spared affair and if you ever find yourself in South Africa over New Years I highly suggest booking a few nights at Londolozi but do it a year in advance to secure space. 

Surrounded by the people I love the most, I celebrated the arrival of 2017 and all of the love, prosperity, and adventure it will (hopefully) bring.