We speak to camp manager Cry Sithole, the man behind the seamless safari stays at Tree Camp on South Africa’s venerated Londolozi Reserve.
Following in his mother’s footsteps, Sithole began his work-life at Londolozi, initially as a butler, before working his way up to the role of camp manager at Londolozi’s Tree Camp, one of five luxe hideaways situated on the reserve. With only six elegant suites, guests get a remarkably intimate experience.
Travellers understandably become spellbound by the extraordinary surroundings and wildlife. Sithole tells us: “As soon as you walk out onto the camp’s deck overlooking the wild plains, or as you dine beneath the ancient trees, you are overcome with a sense of being amongst nature.”
Sithole tells us that at Tree Camp guests have the opportunity to both relax and socialise during their stay, before adding: “The warm, friendly staff complement the atmosphere of the camp with their different personalities that suit each type of guest, building relationships with them and ensuring a seamless experience.”
While each Londolozi safari experience is different, each person does leave with the same connection to the people and the land.
“One thing that every departing guest has in common, which they can take away with them, is the sense of being a part of a bigger community and feeling a connection to nature,” Sithole says, “The friendships and wonderful relationships that you make with unexpected people are something quite unique to Londolozi, and the memories of friendships, as well as incredible animal sightings, last for longer than their days spent with us. Guests often become part of the family, so it’s an exciting affair when they return to the camp.”
“Guests take away the sense of being a part of a bigger community and a connection to nature.”
The heady exhilaration of wildlife sightings is balanced out by downtime at the camp, which for many includes ending the day with a sundowner.
“A drink at the bar before dinner is the perfect time to share stories of the past day and unwind before the next early morning adventure begins,” Sithole says, “The sharing of cultures, stories and traditions is a wonderfully uplifting experience.”
The stories themselves are at the lodge too, with some surprise visits from the reserve’s wildlife. “It’s not uncommon for guests to be on the deck with a hot cup of African-brewed coffee, to be greeted by a breeding herd of elephants passing by on their daily journey to the river. The elephants have a magical way of silencing people in appreciation.”
“The elephants have a magical way of silencing people in appreciation.”
“The array of bird species that call to guests at breakfast can be quite exciting too. If we’re lucky,” he adds, “a leopard or two can be spotted from the deck, or their positions are given away by the alarm calls of the monkeys standing watch from the trees. When walking along the pathways you are also likely to be amongst a family of Nyala feeding peacefully.”
While on site, guests can take part in a variety of activities from yoga classes and bush walks to fishing and working on their photography skills at Londolozi Creative Hub.
Built around the local culture, the camp also encourages guests to take part in village walks to learn more about their traditions and beliefs. “We incorporate the local culture of singing and dancing in every guests stay,” Sithole explains, “It is a wonderful insight into the culture, history and lifestyle of the people who make up the Londolozi family.”
Dining at the camp is no less dynamic with the chance to experience uniquely South African food as well as decadent fine dining, wine pairings and outdoor banqueting. Sithole enthuses: “Dining at Tree Camp is beautifully theatrical in its location, and it’s often highlighted by burning flames and bright stars.”
“Londolozi is special in many different ways,” Sithole concludes, “Everyone feels at home instantly and the natural beauty of the lodge allows people to escape into the bush with ease, to reconnect and spend quality time together.”