Leopard Hills – July 2010

Posted on July 17, 2010

“I can feel it. I am here”

With South Africa having hosted the FIFA World Cup 2010, the phrase “Feel it. It is here” became the catch phrase for all South Africans while this spectacle unfolded inside our borders. Being back at Leopard Hills is again a privilege and I can indeed feel something extremely special while here.

What exactly “it” is that I feel is rather difficult to define. There is a feeling of almost insignificance when you come face to face with a Mapogo, or the strikingly beautiful, Hlaba Nkunzi Leopard and her cubs. That was my first sighting of Leopard cubs after having spent a vast amount of time in the bush and was indeed a very endearing sighting. Amazingly enough, while viewing Hlaba Nkunzi and her cubs walking down the Leopard Hills entrance, we spotted a kingfisher perched in a tree that was completely unperturbed by our presence. I had to lean back at full stretch to get a shot as I was to close with a 100mm minimum zoom. That was a fantastic sighting that fits in the “specials” category.

Maybe it’s the contrast between the slightly nippy, winter evening drives, then to return to a softly lit lodge whose warmth is only equalled by the friendly staff, eager to make your stay as memorable and as comfortable as possible.

Out here, in order to survive, the wild rarely rests, but fortunately enough, there are a few hours for us to put our feet up and dissolve into a state of complete contentment. While doing just that, feet up on the deck, listening to the cascading pool, a few Elephants came to drink at the Lodge Pan. Does it get any better than this?

So what is “it”? In all honesty, it’s the entire experience. On safari drives, the rangers are extremely knowledgeable about the bush and all of it’s inhabitants, and not only that, they are quick to dish out some very good photography tips that will ensure you take home some fine images of the animals that roam freely here. The remainder of the staff will also share in stories of the past and take a genuine interest while you relate yours, and if you keep a keen ear open, the staff will continually keep you entertained with banter amongst each other.

Leopard Hills is so much, and then more. It all boils down to personal choice and what it is that you expect from a spectacular bush experience. Is it getting up close to the big 5? Is it elegant cuisine? Is it indulgent massages with a view to mesmerise you? Is it being part of an exciting and entertaining experience? Well, regardless of the order in which you prioritise these expectations, one thing is for sure, the Leopard Hills team and experience will comfortably meet all of them and more.

Again, to Duncan and his entire compliment of his staff, especially Gary and Dave who both did some great driving and offered extremely helpful tips on photography, I sincerely thank you for an experience that has finally encouraged me to pursue a career change in the bush, and best of all, I still have a couple days left to experience this dream destination.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Herewith a few images I have taken, and will be sure to post again on my return to the cold steely concrete jungle.

Kind regards and sincere thanks.

Andrew Cairncross

8 thoughts on “Leopard Hills – July 2010

  1. Drew,

    That is a fantastic and insightful narative, mirrored by the incredible photographic images, Thank You for sharing.

  2. You ‘almost’ caught the "it" we all know. But I don’t think we can find the words to completely describe the "it" that is LH. You have come closest, however, Andrew. And I thank you. I was privileged to be there when the great Makwela began stashing her cubs by the plunge pools. And so it continues into another generation.

  3. Wow Andrew, your story is almost as good as Duncan?s ? please, take is as a complement 🙂 Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures and your feelings with us. I can only agree with you ? ?it? has a lot of faces in LH and all of them are just perfect. By the way?this relaxed chin in the grass is a million dollar sight!

  4. Such a wonderfully written letter. Your description almost captures the essence of being there in person. The photographs are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Such a wonderfully written letter. Your description almost captures the essence of being there in person. The photographs are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Wow andrew,as i said to you,you should be writing Novels.thank you for Sharing your Thoughts on your Memorable stay with us.looking forward to seeing you in the bush again.Peace King

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