Safari Trip | Londolozi, Varty Camp

Jonathan and Sophie share their experiences at another of South Africa’s award-winning safari lodges, Londolozi’s Varty camp.

Steeped in family history and enviably located on the Sand River in Sabi Sand Reserve, Varty is one of the most famous lodges. It’s rare to arrive at a lodge and immediately have a hunch that the place is going to tick all the boxes on our secret checklist, but this is exactly what happens.

  • Hospitality
  • Location
  • Food
  • *****
  • *****
  • *****
  • Guiding
  • Service
  • Value for money
  • *****
  • *****
  • *****

Welcoming us royally.

Jason gives us a very friendly welcome and shows us to our suite on the banks of the Sand River. The view exquisite, so is the suite, with all the amenities you could reasonably require. Accompanied by a stunning plunge pool on the deck below. Everything here is meticulously managed. Immaculately dressed staff glide from the lounge to dining deck whispering into their radios. Pause and one of the managers will introduce himself, or better yet the barman will offer you a drink.

Activities at the Varty camp.

You’ll never have a dull moment at Varty. There’s the daily yoga session at 12, a gym, a spa, a large communal pool, an inviting library. Relax in the TV-room where you can watch the famous Londolozi leopard documentaries. Londolozi takes their photographic safaris seriously. Spend your spare time in the Creative Centre taking photographic lessons and printing your leopard photos onto canvas.

But wait, don’t forget why you’re actually here – to go on game-drives!

At Londolozi, you’ll meet some of the top guides in the country, as well as some of the most passionate ones. Our guide James captures our attention from the moment we get into the car. James introduces his tracker, Mike, and explains his strategy for our afternoon game drive. Each sighting warrants an introduction, some interesting facts and interpretation whether we stop for an Impala or an elephant.

The vehicle is always perfectly positioned, taking lighting into consideration for photographs, and making sure we’re in the shade from the blazing sun. It’s a treat to have a guide who takes pride in his work and doesn’t just consider himself a driver.

We watch a lone lioness optimistically stalk three large buffalo as the sun sets. The buff successfully turns the tables and the lioness dashes off sheepishly. But it’s another great interaction, all too common at Londolozi.

Londolozi truly values family.

Liveness, one of Varty’s chef introduces tonight’s boma dinner. Our butler Margaret says proudly “That is my daughter”, as she takes our soup orders for dinner. This brief moment says it all about the staff and the overall ethos at Londolozi. Everyone takes pride in their work and it’s all about family. The Varty family themselves have been an integral part of Londolozi since 1926 and even the vineyards on the wine list are purely family-run South African estates. We are impressed.

Back to the bush.

After enjoying a decadent breakfast, and the tastiest croissants we’ve ever had, we head out for our morning game drive. We immediately come across fresh leopard tracks. Mike jumps off the tracker seat and disappears into a block of quite thick vegetation to look for it. We continue driving around, eventually meeting Mike on the other side. The leopard remains elusive, but shortly afterwards we come across a beautiful male briefly stalking a herd of impala ahead before lying down in the shade of an acacia tree.

It’s 9 o’clock and very hot already. Soon it becomes obvious that the leopard is not going to make a move anytime soon, so we carry on. Down at the river, we come across a breeding herd of 30 elephants coming down to drink and play. We sit watching them for a while, enjoying their excitement as they smell the water and play. You can never tire of watching these majestic animals. On our way back to the lodge we spot something really special, two young male giraffes sparring.

About Londolozi.

Londolozi prides itself on its innovative, forward-thinking philosophy and is leading the way in introducing eco-technology to the top-end safari market. Each of the lodges shares a similar view, but each lodge has a unique feel. Pioneer and Granite are both well suited to honeymoon couples, each with only three suites. Whereas at Founders and Tree the emphasis is on slightly smaller camps and finally, Varty is much more family-orientated and children are welcome.

And just like that, it’s time to say goodbye to this magnificent place. All in all, it’s a well-run operation and you will enjoy your stay here.