Monday, April 14, 2008

Londolozi Day 2 Afternoon

Photo of leopard on safari, only feet away from us

Posting by Andy

Yesterday afternoon we visited a local village that was set up for the employees of Londolozi (visit <> ).   The employees work 6 weeks on and get two weeks off.   The village consists of one room buildings that house each employee... if they have families, the families live outside of this village but can stay with them in the one room huts.   The Londolozi village has a clinic and daycare/school to care for not only the employee but also the families when they visit.   It is very simple and appears poor, but their roots are even poorer.  On the site of this village is the original village made of straw huts...  so there is an improvement.    The school/day care teacher also sung in the choir for us earlier in the week!   A little boy followed us along they way that was facinated by us, perhaps because we were stangers or perhaps because of the color of our skin. He was about 4 years old and very cute and very outgoing...and stayed with us until we left the village. 
Later that night we went on our night time safari.  Last we spoke we were on the hunt for the spotted leopard and boy did we find him.  Our tracker has been searching for the spotted leopard and last night, during our night safari after about an hour, there he was, this magnificent animal just laying on the grass as we drove on by.  At first, amazed to finally see one in the wild, all of us in the jeep were speechless and hoped that he would not run long enough for us to take a photo or two.  Well, it was amazing folks, he was more beautiful than I could amagine with a coat of spots and eyes that were so wonderful to look at.  We pulled over and just stared at him as he drank from a puddle of freshly rained water.   He didn't run, nor did he care that we were looking at him.  Soon after he started to walk along the road and we followed him to his next stopping place....a place were he sat and calmly examined the lay of the land.  Shortly afterwards, we noticed a couple of zebras, and so did he!  He could care less about the jeep we were in and focused solely on his next hopeful meal...the zebras.  I have seen an animal hunt many times on television but to see the art in which an animal do so in real life is beyond words.  Patiently he waited as the zebras grazed on the grass about 100 feet beyond us, we waited for about an hour for him to make his move and so he did.  He did not catch the zebra that night, but being there watching him stalk the animal was just phenominal.  Again, much more intense than just watching it on t.v. to the point that you hold your breath waiting to see his next move.  This animal is truly beautiful and also very dangerous to be around without a rifle and protection as we were.
We are now seeking the buffallo which is part of the "Big Five" animals here.  They are elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, and now the buffalo.  We spent so much time with the leopard that it grew dark and we had to return to our village to have dinner.  Dinners here are fantastic, we have a private chef who cooks something different every night and make sure we never have the same thing twice.  Rhett and I tried the ostrich and although I was a bit wierded out by tasted like meat and I just made sure I did not think it was ostrich...not bad, but I would not seek it in the states. 
Today we were again awakened at 5:30 a.m. for our morning safari and once again, not disapointed with our find.  Our guide/trapper heard of the male lion some ways away and we were off to see if we could find him.  After about 40 minutes or so along the bush, there he was, the king of the bush, with two lioness nesting on a rock, viewing his land in which he protects with his life.  Should he see another male lion who is not part of his pack, he will kill it without hesitation and the villagers are not so happy with him because he also will kill the little cubs should he find them.  Sad but this is the law of the bush, he wants to make sure that other males, wether cubs or lions, never compete for his land nor his lionesses. 
Soon after we also encountered crocs, monitor lizards, hippos and many more that we have seen days past. 
When we returned to our village or camp, we then took a bush walk with Foster our safari guide and also a great nature guide.  He walked us around and told us that his parents were medicine doctors who used all of the herbs and trees for medicine. These people believe so strong in herbs for medicine, mainly because they can not afford medicine, that they rely on witch doctors to treat them and use herbs to help their sickness.  He swears it works but I still question how it can be so.  The walk was extremely inciteful and he was so much full of knowledge of how everything around us, from bushes to trees and grasses, can be used for food, medicine and even afrodesiacs (our Viagra!).  We all learned a great deal from this man and he has come to be our friend and our guide throughout our stay here at camp. 
Oh, we were also asked if they could move our room to another room as an upgrade, I don't know why but boy was it an upgrade.  I think it was because we are so friendly with everyone but they picked us and the room is even more spectacular.  The cost per night is around $8,000 and Rhett tells me that it is the best room he has ever been in which as we all know, says a great deal.  It is an adult treehouse that is nestled up in the trees with a glorious living room that views the land and a bedroom fit for two queens!  A shower that is both indoors and also one that is outdoors too that feels like you are taking a private shower in the forest.  We thought we had the setup here, but now we really have the set up! 
I am going to take an afternoon nap now since I have been up so early and then ready for another night time safari and dinner.  Tommorrow we leave this wonderful place and all the animals to drive about 4 hours (wish us luck) to central Swaziland, a small country nestled next to South Africa where we hope to see more indigenous African people and we also planned a white water rafting trip which should be supurb.
Until our next opportunity to write you......our adventure continues and our expectations of this safari have been surpassed and amazing to see.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile