It was the trip of a lifetime and we hope to do it again. We loved both Shumbalala and Londolozi. We found Shumbalala was smaller in scale, cozier and more intimate. Chalet 5 provided a great view of their man-made watering hole. We loved especially the fireplace in our bedroom which, upon our request, they kept going 24/7. We loved the outdoor showers at both places. The food at Shumbalala, prepared by Lynn, was stupendous. She met with all of us every day to tailor the meals and snacks to our requests.
The weather in general was much cooler at Shumbalala because it is further north. They made heavy jackets, blankets and hot water bottles available to us to keep us warm. The veld was still lush and quite green but allowed easy game viewing. The bush was more dense at Shumbalala with more watering holes whereas Londolozi had wide open spaces and a greater variety of vegetation that was beginning to turn brownish. Thus, at Londolozi game viewing was generally easier.
The variety of game we saw was stupendous, not to mention the birdlife which surprised us and especially delighted Allen. We saw lions (males, females and cubs), elephants, giraffe, wilderbeast, warthogs, impala, rhinoceros (white and black), water buffalo, hippos, and African wild dogs in abundance. We saw animals we did not even know existed. We saw three leopards, two at close range (at Londolozi which we learned was the more likely place as they had more of them). We saw two cheetah kills, one at each lodge, the second from start to finish and with two cubs in tow. Our guides, Wiehan at Shumbalala and James at Londolozi, were incredibly knowledgeable, articulate and interesting. Our trackers, Palance at Shumbalala, and Mike at Londolozi, pointed the way to some incredible sightings. We felt we were not only tracking and seeing beautiful animals but also learning a lot about them, almost like hunting.
Our guides' command of the vehicles and knowledge of the animals meant we always felt safe. All of our senses were in play and our minds were thoroughly engaged. We had many photo opportunities, often going off road to pursue lions, African wild dogs, a cheetah kill, or a leopard. We grew accustomed to the routine at the lodges, even getting up at 5:30 am, and miss it even now, especially the feeling of excitement when you mount the Land Rover in the morning at what you might see in the glorious sunrise. In short, we are quite hooked.