Made it home yesterday – so good to be back!
Over the past two days, we took 4 flights and touched down in 4 different continents heading home- can you believe?!
We flew from Johannesburg to Dubai, and then Dubai to London, and then London to Los Angeles.
In total it was 26 hours in the air and 44 hours from door to door!
It’s so wonderful to be home, and I can’t wait to start working on all of the new images from my photo shoots in Zermatt, Dubai and Cape Town.
xx – G
I’m very excited to share with you a batch of images that really highlights our sensory experiences while on safari. Over the past few days, we have experienced so many incredible moments. We were extremely fortunate to see the ‘Big 5′ – includes elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and buffalo. Beyond that, we say a slew of stunning birds, and many other animals such as impala, giraffe, cheetah, hippo, warthog – too many to list them all.
We also experienced a walk to a nearby village where we were able to interact and experience people from the Shangaan tribe, which was fascinating.
There is a story behind every image you see, and I can’t wait to tell many of you about them in person.
Nature is truly fascinating, and getting to see and understand the circle of life from inches away puts so much in perspective. We have been incredibly fortunate to experience this together, and feel truly bonded over many of these moments you see in these pictures.
Tomorrow we head home – it’s truly been the trip of our dreams, and we are so thrilled we have been able to share the journey with you along the way!
xx – G
When we booked our safari, our agent suggested our camp Londolozi for many reasons, but the one that caught our attention was their tree sleep out.
When we first arrived at camp, we asked them about it, and to our surprise, they were shocked we wanted to do it. Apparently it’s not the most requested activity – and I’ll tell you why.
This tree sleep out is the real deal. They drive you about 15 minutes from camp after dinner and leave you all alone on a roof-less platform up in a tree. The tree sits on the shore of the river, and the platform actually is partially above the bank and partially above water. There is no security guard, no bathroom, and no electricity – they only give you a radio to use if there is an emergency. So, with this said, you can probably now imagine why this activity isn’t often requested.
Jeff and I decided we had to do it, that we would regret it if we didn’t And we are so glad we did!
Upon arrival, the tree was lit up with dozens of safari lanterns. They had packed a picnic in a basket in case we got hungry, and put a bottle of champagne and a couple bottles of wine out for us to enjoy (they really love to oversupply you with alcohol on these safaris!). Dan, our safari ranger, drove us after dinner and basically locked the gate at the bottom of the stairs that led up the tree. There was only one rule – under no circumstance were we allowed to leave the tree without calling on the radio for help.
After Dan left, it was a bit surreal. We used a flashlight and stared down into the river below looking for crocodiles. The moon was almost full so there was a lot of beautiful light reflecting off the water into the shrubbery.
We opened some champagne, crawled into our mosquito-covered bed, and listened to the sounds around us. We aren’t sure exactly what we heard, but the bush at night is anything but quiet. All the noises of the creatures together create a harmony that just lulls you off to sleep.
We woke up a few times, but there was never anything to worry about. The whole night was truly an experience we will both never forget!
xx – G
Today we woke up at 5am, setting out on our morning bush drive by 5:30. Since it’s quite hot out in the middle of the day, animals are most active in the morning and in the evening.
Dan and Like, our guide and our tracker respectively, decided to cross the river and head to the north part of the property. It had rained heavily the night before, so the river was roaring as we crossed over as the sun started to rise. When we got to the other side, we began looking for leopards. Londonzoli is famous for its leopards, so we were terribly excited to find one. After an hour or so, we were unsuccessful. We did spot a herd of elephants that were making there way to cross a river bed. In order to get a better look, we drove off the path over next to them.
Because it had rained the night before, the grass was very wet. When we went to move the safari rover, the car became stuck without traction on the wet, muddy grass. Dan and Like waited for a few minutes for the elephants to walk away from us and down towards the river bed. Then then got us out of the rover, having us walk in a single file line up to a safe spot about 20 feet from the car. With less weight in the car, they thought they may be able to get it unstuck.
Suddenly, Dan grabbed the rifle and asked us to wait where we were, swiftly walking up the bluff next to us. A moment later, he stated firmly that we needed to quickly move back to the car and get in as fast as possible. For a moment, we all weren’t sure if this was a joke ,but we did as he said and all walked back to the car. He also made his way over very quickly and nimbly hopped in the front seat just moments before a huge female elephant came barreling to the edge of the bluff, looking down at all of us in the car with contempt.
Since we had no idea what was happening, it took us all by surprise as we stared up at her, staying as still as possible. We could see the uneasiness in her eyes and feel the sudden sense of danger before us as she peered down, looking as though she was about to charge.
A few minutes later, she backed down. Dan explained that there was a very young, baby elephant at the top of the bluff that we couldn’t see, and that the mother had been protecting it. Animals are very accustomed to the cars, and feel comfortable with them being close by. However, when they see humans on foot we become one of ‘them,’ and they feel threatened.
After this scary fiasco was over, we exited the vehicle. Like and Dan radioed back to camp that we needed them to bring a tractor to pull our car out of the mud. Dan decided to take us on a nature walk while we waited the 30 minutes for the tractor to arrive, which seemed like a great idea. If only we knew what was going to happen next.
Once we got up to the path, we started walking behind Dan in a single file line. He lectured us about elephants, telling us more about why the situation had just occurred and so forth. We kept walking, and with no animals nearby, he started telling us about the plants and a bit about the different types of animals droppings nearby on the path. We continued to walk, coming across an African sweet basil plant, which we all picked and were pleasantly smelling as we continued to walk forward. Suddenly we heard a deep, deep wrenching noise and wondered what it was. At first, it had immediately seemed to be the tractor approaching in the distance. However, the noise went away immediately before coming back a second time, only much more obvious – this was not a tractor, but a very deep growl.
Off to our left, about 30 feet away, was a covered bushy area that one would never imagine to be the current resting place of three female lions. Dan picked up on the growl immediately, and as calmly as possible ordered everyone to please turn around and start walking, not running, as quickly as possible back down the path. We all asked what was going on and he said point blank that the growl we had just heard was that of a lioness, even though none of us could see them resting in the bushy area… and thank god we didn’t because I am pretty sure not one of us would have been walking back to the vehicle!
Our heartbeats raced we walked and walked as quickly as possible, finally getting to a spot where Dan said we were safe to rest and wait for the tractor to arrive. We all, of course, were in a bit of disbelief. Lions are rare, and the thought that were totally and completely just randomly walking towards three full grown lions was just insane.
And sure enough, once we got the car pulled out we headed over to the bush and there were the lions. They stared at us and they knew exactly who we were… it’s amazing what you can pick up from an animal by the way they look at you. As we peered at them, I knew we were all thinking the same thing… what if they had approached us while we were on foot.
After our dramatic and exhilarating experience, we thought nothing else could possible go wrong. However, the river we had crossed had now risen by 4 feet from the previous night’s rain! We waited about 40 minutes for the water to hopefully go down before Dan finally decided to make a go for it. We all were watching the crocodiles in the water as we creeped along the turbulent submerged path, praying the water wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the car away. After about 5 minutes, Like and Dan started cheering as we safely made it to the other side!
Though the evening drive was nothing like the morning, we did have a truly incredible sighting of a male leopard. He was so beautiful and stunning – truly a diamond in the rough, especially with a coat like that. We followed him to a bush he was protecting, under which we soon discovered a dead impala. He dragged the impala carcass to a nearby tree and we watched as he ripped it up, eating the meat and crunching on the bones – it was the real deal!
In the evening, we returned home to a wonderful surprise – a lantern & candlelit dinner on our deck. It was so romantic and stunning- we listened to the noises of the bush as we reminisced over our exciting day.
And yet, another adventure awaits us tomorrow!
xx – G
Today was pure magic.
We flew from Cape Town to Nelspruit – a small airport in Kruger National Park. We then boarded a tiny plane and took off, soon landing on the airstrip at our lodge, Londolozi. I won’t lie – the little plane was pretty bumpy, but looking out the window, we could spot giraffe and elephants from above!
Upon arriva,l we were scooped up by our bush driver for the week, Daniel, in one of the outdoor bush Trekkers. We were welcomed by a slew of monkeys, and even some antelope. Our jaws dropped as we entered this beautifully decorated camp, which I’ll definitely get more photos of tomorrow. We had lunch, got changed, and took off for our first game drive at 4pm.
We were in total shock as the sun started setting in front of a landscape that is just so raw and pure – the real African bush. We would come across giraffes, impalas, warthogs, wilder beasts, and other creatures and we would drive right up to them like we were a part of the African animal kingdom – they are so used to the cars, they are barely afraid!
As we continued to cover land and see different animals, the sun began to go down, and in the distance a summer storm was fast approaching. Lightening occasionally lit up the sky, and it was so beautiful to see it contrasted with sunset.
Suddenly, a call came in on the radio alerting the driver that a pride of lions had been found. We all perked up in excitement as we headed to the location. Lions are nocturnal, so when we got there in the last of the dusk light, the three lionesses were just waking up from a long sleep. They had six cubs with them and one male. Honestly, we were just in complete shock seeing them in the wild from a few feet away.
Just when we thought it was over and the night was drawing in, the male appeared and walked in front of the car. The lionesses then walked right next to the car just inches from Jeff’s leg and peered right up into our eyes. It was an out of world experience to interact with nature in such an environment.
As we pulled out, the lightening was striking in the background lighting up the sky as the male and the cubs walked off into the night to start hunting prey. It was such a wondrous and beautiful moment to experience.
Once back at the camp, it started pouring as we ate dinner on a covered deck lit only by dozens of lanterns. We interacted with the chef and many people from the staff – everyone is so nice and the food is delish.
We can’t wait for tomorrow’s morning drive, which leaves at 5am!
xx – G