The Leopards of Londolozi by Graham Wood

Great friend and talented photographer @grazwoodphoto has just shared his exquisite Leopards of Londolozi Collection with us. Just in case you missed these incredible shots on Instagram, take a minute and scroll down here – they will no doubt take your breath away. Thank you Graham!

For more of Graham’s awesome photographs be sure to follow him on Instagram @grazwoodphoto.

 

 

Safari Pricing Explained

We are often asked how much safaris cost. This is because it is extremely hard to find prices for safaris online, and because there is an incredibly vast range of safari tours available—each type of safari tour obviously has its own associated costs, depending on the travel agent that you use.

Iconic Africa showcases the African destinations which best represent our values of the utmost luxury, world-beating African hospitality, delectable contemporary cuisine and most importantly an authentic commitment to wilderness conservation.

We aim to give you the most comprehensive quotations by detailing all of the expenses that you will incur during your safari adventure. We pride ourselves on the fact that our quotations have no hidden costs and no hidden surprises. Here’s what you need to know about safari costs.

Good safaris are expensive, however, you truly get what you pay for. We cater for mid- to high-end, boutique safaris which means our focus is on luxury, excellent service, and unforgettable safari experiences. It is important to remember that Africa is a huge continent. Great distances need to be covered by either cars, airplanes, or both. Therefore travel costs often make up a large portion of your safari expenses.

Because we cater for mid- to high-end safaris, the lodges that we choose are only the best of the best. Guests can expect a large staff complement at all lodges—in fact, the staff-to-guest ratio at most of the lodges that we recommend is a 3:1 ratio. This is to ensure that our clients are treated like absolute royalty. Of course, excellent accommodation and gourmet meals are world-class too. The lodges that we have on offer pride themselves on exclusivity and, of course, fewer visitors means fewer vehicles, which ultimately means a more exceptional and much more intimate wildlife experience for you.

We specialise in tailor-made safaris which ensures that our clients are not limited to pre-set itineraries or specific dates. Our clients can choose their own accommodation and they can indicate which activities they would like to experience on their safari. Our clients tell us what they want the focus to be on (for example, game viewing, birds, cats, relaxation, romance etc.), and we make sure that their expectations are not only met but exceeded. Read more in our Iconic Africa Promise

Our itineraries are perfectly planned out and drafted with each, individual client in mind. They are highly intricate and specific, so you will never be met with nasty shocks or unpleasant surprises. They contain comprehensive information about where, when, and with whom you should meet, and we set up the itineraries in such a way so that they are easy to read and the important information is easy to find. The itineraries also indicate where any costs are not covered by travel agency costs or accommodation costs.

So, what do we include in your quotation? Our quotations include all of your internal flights with specific details about each flight—such as when and where to meet, and who will pick you up to take you to and from the various airports. We also include details about all of your transfers, and all of your vehicles costs will be included. The quotation includes your day tours with specific details, and rental costs for rental cars and accommodation costs are also included in the quote.

For any other queries on costing please do let us know.

Property of the Month – Londolozi

Iconic Africa’s relationship dates back decades with the Varty family and Londolozi. After so many years of support and so many happy memories there, we are proud to feature Londolozi as our property of the month.

Terri not only has been going there for the last twenty years but she even got engaged there and John had two very memorable years there as a game ranger. Not to mention the fact that it was on one such unforgettable Londolozi safari that John drove Terri and her family and, through their mutual love and knowledge of Africa, they conceptualised Iconic Africa.

We’d like to highlight and showcase the special place Londolozi has in our hearts so that hopefully one day it will have one in yours too.

Watch the video below to get a feel for the absolute magic that awaits you at Londolozi.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Londolozi Tree Camp Deck Iconic Africa Safaris

These are Einstein’s words. In Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2014, Londolozi was named the best hotel in the world! A global honour of colossal proportions. Londolozi effortlessly exceeds all expectations on a luxury, hospitality, wilderness and experiential front – however when anyone who knows Londolozi well, is tasked with describing this African wonder they are immediately confronted by the difficulty of portraying the intangible. It is this indiscernible x factor, which sets Londolozi aside from the rest!

Let us put the necessary emphasis on those last three words of the aforementioned award:

In. The. World.

Falling under the awards was another category – Top 20 Safari Lodges & Camps in Africa – and, as can be expected when you’re the World’s Best Hotel (too much emphasis? – we think not), Londolozi claimed top position. Three of Londolozi’s five lodges, namely Granite, Pioneer and Tree are Relais & Chateaux properties and these lodges are true to the elegance and attention to detail that this world-renowned signature embodies. The remainder of the five, Founders and Varty are not to be overlooked. Varty Camp is adored for its deep history and endearing charm, and Founders is equally deserving of complimentary adjectives: sophisticated, warm and classic. Awards aside – and we’ve only skimmed the surface of the property’s accolades – Londolozi’s reputation continues to soar thanks to the oldest advertising there is: word of mouth. You see, to know Londolozi is to adore Londolozi.

 

The Intangible

There remains that which is difficult to pin down with mere words. But before we address that, let us first touch on the wildlife. To delay it any longer would be to ignore why everyone is drawn to this place and when we say everyone, we meant it; both those who call it home and those who travel across continents to experience Londolozi with their own eyes, their own minds and, of course, their own hearts. It’s mandatory for us to say the Big 5. There it is, we’ve said it. But let’s crack the term open and put a magnifying glass to the one member of the quintet that Londolozi is famed for: Leopards. Anyone who has spent time in the African wilderness – besides Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – appreciates that Leopards are elusive creatures. Some South Africans visit the bush time and time again and these graceful cats continue to elude them and then one day, let’s call it a Tuesday morning; they get up at sunrise and spot a female Leopard through their binoculars. It’s a brief and distant sighting – just an outline in the approaching day – but it’s enough to put a grin on their face for the rest of the week.

Considering this reality, it seems almost cruel to speak of the intimate leopard sightings at Londolozi. It is common for game drives to spend an hour or two with a leopard and this familiarity extends into every aspect of the cats’ lives: hunts, cubs, mating, territorial spats… When it comes to Londolozi, calling it a Leopard sighting is misleading because the word implies a fleetingness that is just not a factor. Lions too are generous with their presence; loitering in the grass, unfazed by the vehicles they allow to share large chunk of their days whether it be lazing in the grass, chasing a herd of impala through the bushveld or rearing their young. Not to be forgotten, elephants, rhinos and buffalo punctuate game drives through this beautiful reserve.

The origin

And so now, finally, let us turn to the energy that is so difficult to capture. There is no better place to start than with the name: Londolozi. Derived from the Zulu word, “to protect,” John, Dave and Shan Varty took the decision to leave the farm’s history of hunting behind them and build, instead, a sanctuary for all living things. Londolozi’s pioneers did not discard the past, they evolved it and so the charm, stories and character of the property’s previous generations was cherished and passed onto their own children.

Generations of striving for perfection

Here exists one of the pillars that defines Londolozi: it is family run. Blood is not the only determining factor of that family, it branches into friendships that were forged on the land and reaches back into eight decades, encircling those that are no longer physically present yet remain nonetheless.

We read somewhere that thoughts are infinite. That once formed they travel into space and time, never ceasing to exist. If this assertion is true, it can be used to explain Londolozi’s energy: Running back five generations are men and women who considered the land sacred, who sat together, after another perfect day in Africa, around an open fire with the people they loved most and ate and drank and told each other stories – sometimes the same one for the tenth time – and these moments gave birth to a plethora of happy thoughts and sentiments. The thoughts of Londolozi’s yesteryears are still felt today and they are affirmed by everyone who lives and visits the property in recent years. Ask any ex-ranger what the best time in his life has been and his answer will almost always be, “my years at Londolozi.

Belong

The same is true for guests. Londolozi continually shakes off other destinations to earn a position as their favourite. When everyone is, literally, having the time of their lives, the air cannot help absorb some of that liveliness. And that in itself, is the reason why you will feel, on arrival, that you instantly belong.

Londolozi Tree Camp Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

Londolozi is a feeling! Of course, Londolozi’s absolute luxury goes without saying, however if you are to understand this incredible place and it’s feeling, you have to visit and experience it for yourself!

Graham Wood Leopard Londolozi

If you’d like to come and see for yourself we promise you won’t be disappointed. Contact us now and we will craft a once-in-a-lifetime Londolozi safari for you! BUT heed our warning, book months and months (a full year or more to be on the safe side) in advance! Getting in isn’t easy!

To read out five favorite blog posts from the Londolozi blog click here.

 

 

 

 

Game Reserves and National Parks—what’s the difference?

If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, it is important to keep in mind the differences between game reserves and National Parks so that you can get the exact adventure that you have been dreaming of. Many travellers to Africa don’t realise that there is a huge difference between game reserves and National Parks, and this can often lead to disappointment because guests were hoping for a distinct type of experience.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the two lies in the exclusivity and freedom that guests will encounter. If you are looking for a unique safari adventure, it is essential to book in a private game reserve. Because there are fewer safari tours that take place in private game reserves, guests are allowed to freely explore the African wilderness. Private game reserves offer guests the opportunity to escape from the crowds that are associated with the larger National Parks. This means that guests can experience the true African bushveld all to themselves, and they won’t have to share their wildlife sightings with an enormous crowd of other vehicles.

The number of visitors to National Parks is not restricted so the safari experience is open to everyone. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that you will have to share your sightings with quite a large number of other people. ‘Traffic jams’ are a real thing in National Parks as visitors scramble about to view animals that have been sighted. Visiting a National Park will also mean having to share your bucket-list safari experience with all sorts of other visitors. At private game reserves, the number of vehicles that can be present at a game sighting is restricted to two or three cars which means that you are ensured the ultimate game viewing experience.

Private game reserves only allow game viewing vehicles from the lodges to be used, and the rules about where you can drive are very different from the rules at National Parks. In private game reserves, game viewing vehicles are allowed to drive off-road to allow guests to search for big cats or to track specific animals. Private game reserves don’t have hours of operation like National Parks so guests are given an exclusive opportunity to experience an exhilarating night drive. This means that visitors to a private game reserve enjoy a more ‘full’ experience than visitors to a National Park.

It is essential to have the option of going on night drive if you would like to search for nocturnal animals which won’t be visible during the day. Unfortunately, visitors to a National Park have to abide by the rules that are set by the Park. This means that game drives are restricted to certain times and to certain roads. Guests cannot enjoy night drives in National Parks. Bush walks are another popular activity that private game reserves offer that cannot be enjoyed by guests of National Parks.

Although it might seem that private game reserves are the way to go, it is important to remember that National Parks do offer some of the best game viewing in Africa and it is an experience that is not to be missed. Ultimately, your choice has to be based on the kind of experience you are looking for. If you are looking for exclusivity and freedom, private game reserves are your best option.

Please do let us know if you have any more questions on the above as we’d be more than happy to help.

Iconic Africa’s 2017 Bucket List

“One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” Paulo Coelho

Having a bucket list is a great way of making sure we see, do and experience as much as we possibly can. To help you with yours we’ve handpicked the most, breath-taking, unforgettable and unbelievable experiences that Africa has to offer. All of which come very highly recommended!

  1. Witness the Great Migration

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  1. Visit the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls

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  1. Explore the old town and beaches of Zanzibar

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  1. Experience the wonder of the Kalahari

Tswalu Game Reserve. Southern Kalahari. Northern Cape. South Africa.

  1. Sample the Cape Winelands

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  1. Ride a hot air balloon over the Serengeti

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  1. Swim with dolphins in Mozambique

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  1. Go on a walking safari

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  1. See the leopards of Londolozi

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  1. Witness the absolute abundance of the Masai Mara

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  1. Raft the Zambezi River

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  1. Visit the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater

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  1. Go whale-watching in Hermanus

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  1. Ride a Mokoro through the Okavango Delta

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We wish for all our friends and fellow travellers that you get to experience as many of these as possible in your lifetime. For after all…

“…in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln.

Please do let us know if we can help in making any or all of the above dreams a reality for you!

Top 5 Spots to See Leopards in Africa

The leopard is without a doubt the most beautiful and most elusive member of the Big Five. It’s the most sought after sighting amongst tourists and one that safari guides across Africa spend their days in search of. If you are lucky enough to see a leopard in your life… that moment will be one that you remember and treasure forever.

Leopards are solitary and stealthy predators whose mastery of camouflage makes them very difficult to spot. To increase your chance of seeing them you need to find their prime habitats where concentrations are greatest. It also really helps if guides are able to take you on night drives as well as drive off road in the reserve to follow these magnificent predators. A leopard sighting is truly a sight to behold but unfortunately seeing them really is down to luck. However, if you go to one of the 5 places listed below you will most definitely have better odds of witnessing this definitive wildlife experience.

Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Sabi Sands situated on the Kruger National Park’s western boundary has an incredibly high concentration of leopard. Within the Sabi Sands your best bet is most definitely Londolozi as this pinnacle safari destination prides itself in its incredible relationship with its leopards. The reserve contains hoards of the perfect leopard prey, its lush habitat and expanse of dense trees makes is perfect for leopards and guides are allowed to drive off road and at night in search of them.

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Click here to read our five favorite stories from the famous Londolozi blog.

Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Moremi is a truly special place as it surrounds much of the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s wildlife hotspot. With herds of small antelope, monkeys, warthogs and the like the grassy floodplains and tall forest are prime leopard country. Most of the camps allow night and off-road driving which helps considerably too. Chiefs Camp in particular sits on the Delta’s largest island and is renowned for some of the best big game viewing in all of Africa and most notably leopard viewing.

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Samburu & Masai Mara Reserves, Kenya

The Samburu and Masai Mara National Reserves both have great reputations for excellent leopard sightings. Samburu a dry woodland area and the Mara an open rolling grassland are both prime leopard habitats. Leopards lie especially along the rivers, in the trees and in amongst the kopjes awaiting the arrival of their prey often which consist of the great herds that move annually into the areas.

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South Luangwa, Zambia

The exquisite South Luangwa Valley in central Zambia boasts one of the highest concentrations of leopard in Africa due to its high concentrations of prey. A wide and fertile alluvial plain nourished by the Luangwa River, the park’s wildlife ranges from aardvark to zebra and it has long been known for its dense concentrations of predators, especially lions and leopards. South Luangwa camps also offer some of Africa’s best walking safaris, which enable you to prowl this big predator country on foot!

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Kalahari Desert, Namibia and South Africa

The Kalahari Desert is a large “waterless” desert covering most of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is hot and rainfall is minimal but it is also home to a large collection of leopard, which graze and cool off by the few rivers in amongst the sandy plains, mostly up North towards Namibia.

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A leopard sighting is one of life’s true wonders, an experience you will never forget and one that will leave you speechless and covered (head to toe) in goosebumps! We wish you all the best on your quest to get up close and personal with Africa’s most magnificent predator.

#TBT: Terri And Her Love For Londolozi

The ultimate #throwbackthursday. A little trip down memory lane, a whole heap of nostalgia and some really old photographs:

Our co-founder Terri Abadi has an inimitable love for legendary Londolozi. We sat down with her to unpack this. Thank you Terri for sharing your wonderful memories and happy snapshots!

Terri Adabi Londolozi Blog

Tell us a little about your history at Londolozi:

Terri: “My extreme love for Londolozi started at 19 years old and I have since visited there almost every year. I got engaged in Granite Suites almost 19 years ago and am now blessed to be able to take my four children there every year on our annual summer vacation.

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Where do you stay when you go there?

Terri: “We stay in Pioneer Camp every year.”

 

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What brings you back?

Terri: “I’m not sure whether it’s the people or just Africa as a whole. In fact it is the feeling that you get when you are in Africa and especially Londolozi. It cannot be described… it just engulfs you. Each trip is better than the last. When we leave there and say bye to the Rangers and the staff we almost always have tears in our eyes, Africa always keeps you wanting to come back for more! 4

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What is it like for the kids?

Terri: “They have the most amazing kids programme, its educational as well as fun for them -offering them everything from tree climbing, baking, tracking animals to karaoke. Really and truly, they go above and beyond for you. My kids now love it just as much as we do. It is real quality family time… the perfect place to really go and just be a family in the true sense of the word. No iphones and ipads just good old talking and bonding. All my kids have been given African animal names – to represent something about their characters. My daughter says that we are true African Americans!”

JOHN AND KIDS Londolozi Blog

What do you think of the game at Londolozi?

Terri: “ Game sightings are always phenomenal! The topography and the position of Londolozi comes close to the best game viewing in my opinion in all of Africa! I love the leopards, know them all by name and follow their movements almost every day, even from home in the US. I check in with the rangers and numerous blogs every morning and in fact my kids now do that too!” Below is a lovely pic of Mashaba and cub:

Mashaba and cub

Which was your favourite leopard?

Terri: “ Camp Pan leopard was my favourite but unfortunately all signs lead me to believe he isn’t alive anymore… he was a brute of a leopard.”  Camp Pan in all his glory:
CAMP PAN

Which are your favourite lions?

Terri: “My favourite pride is the Sparta pride, they were the very first lions I ever saw at Londos. I always keep track of them through the Londolozi Blog.”

What do you think of the staff?

Terri: “The staff are phenomenal we have built friendships with them all from the camp manager to the host to the trackers to the team who runs the kids club and we look so forward to seeing them every year. In fact you leave Londolozi feeling like extended family!

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For our top 5 londolozi blog stories click here.