About Rich Laburn
Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.
Latest Posts by Rich Laburn
If you haven’t been to South Africa and are eager to learn what kind of magic you’d encounter if you go, there are simply so many things to do and see and the country is so beautiful, that it would take a massive book to recount all the fabulous things the country has to offer. To start, here are fabulously fun and impressive facts about South Africa. Be sure to check out the rest of our South Africa coverage for more insights and photos.
The Greatest Shoal on Earth
The Sardine run occurs every year during May through July when millions of sardines spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas bank. A cold northerly current causes the sardines to move north from the Agulhas bank up to Mozambique. While not much is known about this phenomenon, it is believed that the water temperature has to drop below 21 degrees Celsius in order for the migration to take place. The sheer numbers of sardines invites a feeding frenzy to take place and superpods of dolphins, thousands of sharks, whales and gannets find their place in the waters and chase after, gorging mouthfuls of fish.
The Cape Floral Kingdom – The Richest of the World’s Six Floral Kingdoms
With the beginning of spring it seems appropriate to mention that South Africa, namely the Cape Floral Kingdom, has the richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The Table Mountain National Park in the Western Cape has more plant species in its 22 000 hectares than New Zealand or the British Isles. It contains nearly 20% of the continent’s flora of which 68% of its species are endemic (plant species that only occur in this region and are not found anywhere else in the world).
From August through to the beginning of October, the Cape regions of South Africa have some of the best wildflower sightings. Popular places for flower spotting are along the West Coast of South Africa in the West Coast National Park and in the Northern Cape in the Namaqualand National Park.
The World’s Second Highest Waterfall
Image Credit: Copyright of Dom Wills / 500px
South Africa holds another world record with the second highest waterfall situated within the Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg. The Tugela Falls consist of five drops with the highest sheer drop at 441 meters. The highest waterfall in the world is the Angel Falls in Venezuela – there have however been many disputes as to which one is actually the tallest. The Angel Falls is universally regarded as having the tallest single uninterrupted drop of any waterfall in the world.
World Beating Wines
South Africa’s reputation for producing excellent wines is well known and this has been recognised with many wine awards, most notably in both the red and white single varietal categories that have regularly won top prizes in the prestigious World Wine Awards. South Africa also has the longest wine route (and we could also argue the most beautiful) in the world along Route 62 (850 km), stretching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
There’s the Graham Beck Brut N/V, which is the same sparkling wine that First Lady Michelle Obama elected for her husband President Barrack Obama’s celebrations on his election night, and the same wine that Nelson Mandela used to toast to his inauguration in 1994.
World’s Best Land-Based Whale-Watching Spot
The seaside town of Hermanus on the southern coast of the Western Cape is a prime spot for whale watching and the best land-based spot to see the giants of the sea as they come to the waters of the Cape to mate, calve and nurse their young.
The whales can be seen from as early as June but usually depart by December each year – the most common whale to spot is the Southern right but you’ll also be able to see humpback and Bryde’s whales. The coastal town also has its very own Whale Crier – the world’s only one – who blows a horn when whales are sighted. The first whale crier Pieter Classen began at his post in 1992 and continued until 1998. His role has since been taken over but the job of the Whale Crier remains…
Written by Kate Collins.
No truer statement could epitomize wildlife photography than the one by Ralph Waldo Emerson below. The review of the Sigma lens below features Trevor McCall-Peat who has spent the past two weeks testing it out and here are his thoughts.
“Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trevor: I am working with the Sigma Team to bring two aspects of gear testing together: A range of new lenses and the most testing conditions in the wild. Our challenge was to put them to work. I took some time to read up on these Sigma products and the reviews available on various sites. My excitement to try them out for myself grew with each review. Over the coming months I will be heading out into the field, armed with a variety of Sigma lenses and sharing some of my thoughts.
I have read nothing but exceptional reviews and comments about the new range of Sigma lenses, and it certainly seems as though they have done an outstanding job in accommodating a photographer’s every need when investing in a lens. Having said this, I look forward to putting all of what I’ve read about these lenses to the test. I have a Canon 1D Mark IV and will be using the Sigma lenses with this body – the first of which was the 120-300mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM | SPORTS
Amanda: What was your first impression of the lens?
TMP: Taking this lens out of its case for the first time and attaching it to my camera, I was immediately struck by the sleek look of the new set-up. It is an impressively sized lens but has a very smooth and slick look to it. I have to say it is definitely a lens that is pleasing to the eye.
The Sigma for Canon 120-300mm F/2.8 is a sleek looking lens
This was the first picture I took using the new set-up. I was so excited to use the lens I simply could not wait to get out into the field. I have been trying to get this image for quite some time, which has now become a reality when I attached a 1.4x converter to the lens. From a dead rest, I was able to capture the moon rising. ISO 100, F/4, 1/200 at 420mm
AR: The 120-300 lens can be quite a hefty piece of equipment to carry around. How did you find the weight and handling?
TMP: Being a rather large lens, I expected that it would be a heavy one too, weighing in at about 3.9 kilograms. Even so, I found it manageable, even when hand-held, and over time (using it on a daily basis) the weight soon becomes less noticeable.
Working in the conditions that I do – whether it’s the bumpy roads or the potential of knocking it against the vehicle in the excitement of getting the shot – I always worry about protecting my equipment, but this lens has a solid, hardy feel which erased any concerns about its ability to withstand tougher conditions.
Beautiful light and a great photographic opportunity allowed me to hand hold my camera for a good ten minutes waiting to get this shot of the Mashaba female’s cub as he locked eyes with us after repositioning and feeding. Running on sheer adrenaline from an incredible sighting of this cub I didn’t even notice the weight of the lens. ISO 640, F/4, 1/800 at 300mm
Sitting with a herd of waterbuck, this young female stood rigidly right beside us. Normally, before I can even take my camera out of my bag, waterbuck change position or move off but on this occasion she stayed still. ISO 640, F/4, 1/1000 at 300mm
AR: With a longer telephoto lens, stability can often be a problem. How did this lens perform?
TMP: Being a larger lens, stabilisation is crucial and the two OS (optical stabiliser) modes come in very handy. OS 1 being vertical and horizontal stabilisation and OS 2 being better suited for panning(vertical). One really notices these modes on cooler cloudy days when light is limited and when shooting difficult angles where handheld is the only option.
Photographing in very poor light can be tricky at times in terms of quality of your image. On this afternoon there was thick cloud cover, but by using a bean bag to rest my camera and lens on I was afforded the stability to capture this image. ISO 1000, F/4, 1/200 at 300mm
Using OS1 mode gave me an advantage in capturing this beautiful backlit male lion. This male was marching towards his brother who was lying down behind us. In the heat of the moment (and with no dead rest) I turned my body and took the shot hand-held. In dark conditions I found myself extremely impressed with the lens’ capability. ISO 1000 F/2.8 1/200 at 250mm
AR: We often get so close to the wildlife here, what did you think of the range of the lens?
TMP: I have had issues in the past (while not major, but certainly noticeable) where other lenses on the market to date have been limiting at times. I have had to either change lenses depending on subject, distance and light or have two camera bodies and constantly switch between the two in sightings which can, and has, resulted in a good photographic opportunity being missed. Having the range of the 120 – 300mm I have had no such issues and I feel that in the moment of action, I have the ability to get the composition I am looking for and do so without battling to switch my lenses or equipment.
With a hyena moving around in the area and the remains of a kill hanging in a tree close by, the Piva male was very aware of his surroundings and was constantly changing position. The distance would have been just too far for a 200mm lens, but instead of having to crop an image or change lenses, the 300mm was the perfect fit for this shot. ISO 800 F/2.8 1/500 at 300mm
AR: Sharpness is always a huge consideration when using a telephoto lens. How did you find the sharpness and focus?
TMP: The focusing mechanism is smooth and fast, I was surprised at how quickly the focus locks onto its target. Not once have I struggled in terms of focusing. The focusing mechanism is also internal which, for someone who works out in the field every day, is a bonus as there is minimal space for dust to gather and potentially affect the working parts.
It is always entertaining to spend time at a hyena den and this time it was no different. This little hyena had us in stitches as it was still very young and shy but very inquisitive. With the help of the sharp, fast zoom I was able to snap this shot of the youngster as it popped its head out of the burrow to have a brief look at us. ISO 800, F/4, 1/500 at 300mm
AR: Here’s the big question: we have spoken about range, but how is the zoom on this lens?
TMP: The versatility and speed of this lens is incredible, focusing at 120mm from just 1.5 meters (5 feet) and at 2.5 meters (close to nine feet) for 300mm which is essential when photographing in a dynamic environment where your subject can be moving and shooting conditions are constantly changing. The ease at which you can go from 120mm to 300mm is great and when combined with the extremely fast focus, shooting moving targets becomes a breeze.
The beauty of having a long zoom lens with the luxury of shooting with an F-stop of 2.8 is that it creates a shallow depth of field which I used in this image. I wanted to emphasis the eye and by focusing only on the eye it creates blur in the surrounding areas. You can almost feel the intensity in his gaze. ISO 1000, F/2.8, 1/1600 at 300mm
A close up of the Mashaba female shows great detail but also adds emotion to the image, especially converted into black and white. ISO 800 F/2.8 1/640 at 300mm
AR: With an aperture of F/2.8, you would expect great things from the performance of this lens. What was your experience?
TMP: Even before my first shot with this lens the one thing that stood out to me was the aperture. Whether you are at minimal or maximum zoom, the aperture (ranging from F/2.8 to F/22) can remain the same. I found this incredibly beneficial when out in the bush and, with conditions being as unpredictable as they are, it meant that I had the freedom to change it accordingly and be one hundred percent confident that I would get the shot.
I was very interested to see how this lens would perform in low light – whether it be on a gloomy, cloudy day or using a spotlight in the cover of night. The results I achieved were phenomenal. Previously when lighting was tricky I would never be confident of capturing the photograph perfectly, and often on my return to the lodge, when downloading my images my concerns would be confirmed. I often found images soft or even slightly grainy even when using a low ISO. Using this lens I was confident that my image would be the standard I expect it to be without an element of doubt in my mind.
In tough light the lens still performs at a high tempo. The eye contact from this Matshiphiri male is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/160 at 300mm
With overcast conditions photography can be tough, but I love the challenge. Wildlife photography is always unpredictable and so many outside factors control your image. A male cheetah stands tall, scanning the area for any potential prey. ISO 1000, F4, 1/320 at 180mm
AR: Your final verdict?
TMP: Having used this lens over the past couple of weeks, and really paying attention to its capabilities and handling in certain situations, I have been amazed time and time again. Sigma have done a phenomenal job in creating a truly remarkable lens and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed using. I realise this is a big statement to make but based on my recent experience, if I had one choice of lens when out in the field, it would be the Sigma 120 – 300mm F2.8.
Take a look at the rest of the images that Trevor has captured during his lens test:
The Piva male gave us great photographic opportunities to capture different angles. Once again the light was tough but the result is one that I’m very happy with. ISO 800, F/4, 1/400 at 300mm
Using the rule of thirds and a very tight angle I tried to capture a tight intimate feel with this beautiful Styx male. ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/160 at 300mm
Playing around in my garden one afternoon I had fun photographing this nyala as she groomed herself. It is a very unusual image with the focus being off centre, with rich contrasting colours. ISO 640, F/2.8, 1/1250 at 300mm
This was my first time seeing the Matimba males. They have been seen on our property over the past two weeks and I am in awe of their size. This male had just fed and his discomfort was noticeable as he constantly rolled around trying to keep weight off his full stomach. ISO 800, F/4, 1/400 at 300mm
Being able to shoot 300mm at F/2.8 allows for the same feeling and effect you would have with a fixed lens. I was able to take a close up image of this male cheetah smelling the tree for any past scents that may have been left by other cheetahs or animals. Iso 1000, F/2.8, 1/320 at 300mm
The second brother of the Matimba coalition. This male was passed out sleeping for a lengthy period of time and was awakened by a nearby vulture repositioning in the tree. The presence this male created with a single stare was instantly felt by all. ISO 800, F/4, 1/320 at 250mm
Positioning ourselves in the Sand River, we had a great low angle view while we watched a breeding herd of elephants move through the waterway. This young elephant separated itself from the herd temporarily to feed on the luscious vegetation growing in the riverbed. ISO 400, F/5, 1/3200 at 200mm
A lioness listens to distant nyala alarm call, possibly indicating the position of the rest of her pride. At 300mm this lens creates a fair amount of blur behind the subject which adds emphasis to the lioness’s face. ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/1000 at 300mm
With dark surroundings contrasting with the lighter golden colour of the Piva male’s coat, a black and white conversion really makes the leopard stand out. ISO 800, F/4, 1/320 at 235mm
This old buffalo bull stood dead still and gazed at us for a long time, and I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind, what he thought of us and what he must have seen in his life. ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/2500 at 300mm
Leaving camp one morning we found the Styx males resting almost on our doorstep. They had been calling throughout the evening and the dry conditions remaining from winter aided in creating a clear image. ISO, 1000 F/2.8, 1/320 at 300mm
This young hyena was just looking for affection from its mother, who was just interested in catching a late morning sleep. Iso 800, F/2.8, 1/400 at 260mm
It is always a privilege to be able to spend time with these animals and to share intimate moments like this with them. ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/500 at 300mm
This is probably one of my favourite images that I have ever taken. What looks like a growl is the tail-end of a yawn by the Piva male – the backlighting of his teeth makes this image for me. ISO 1000, F/2.8, 1/500 at 300mm
Written by Trevor McCall-Peat and Amanda Ritchie and Photographed by Trevor McCall-Peat,
Disclosure: Lens provided by SIGMA.
I started the photographic journal series to allow the hobbyist photographic guides to share their photographic styles, techniques and stories. I thought this is a great opportunity for guides and staff, who don’t necessarily post on the blog on a frequent basis, to share their growth in the field of photography.
My photographic journey has had a beginning, a monotonous middle and now the forever and ongoing. When I arrived at Londolozi at the beginning of 2013 I took an immediate interest in wildlife photography as I saw it as an opportunity to express myself and share my experiences with friends and family.
I loved being able to look at a single photo, letting it take me back to the exact moment and the people I shared that moment with. Yearning to understand more about photography, I sucked the life out of one of my ex-ranger colleagues, Mike Sutherland. I harassed Mike a couple times each week with questions and he patiently taught and shared his knowledge with me. After a while I was content with what I knew and I kept on the same monotonous line. That line was suddenly erased when I had the privilege of guiding Sergey Gorshkov who took me on a completely new journey.
Sergey is a National Geographic Photographer and the founding member of the Russian Union of Wildlife Photographers. Among his many awards, Gorshkov has twice been voted Russia’s Photographer of the Year, and has won BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2012.
Sergey’s accolades were one thing, but what really interested me was his journey as a photographer. Sergey’s career in photography began only 12 years ago. His birth as a photographer shared parallels to my upbringing, making the transition from hunting to eco-tourism in the late 60’s. Sergey’s life changed forever when he went on a hunting trip to Africa. He told me when he first saw a leopard it was in the cross hair of his scope and he froze. He was so captivated by the leopard’s beauty that he couldn’t shoot it. “My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I knew at that moment that I couldn’t fire the gun, so I took up photography and began taking pictures instead. Photography became my opportunity to hear the roar of a leopard on the Okavango River, and the honking of geese flying over the Taymyr Tundra” Sergey says.
Sergey’s humility and manners can’t be faulted. He has a natural understanding of the world around him and his patience and passion is contagious. He has made it clear the he is not a professional, rather that he is a hobbyist, and that wildlife photography doesn’t bring him material gain. In fact, he has never looked at it as a way to make money, but the opportunity to communicate with wild animals brings him wealth beyond measure in the form of spiritual enrichment. “What I do is equal parts science, adventure and art, and I’m grateful that photography became my way of understanding nature and reflecting the world I live in. I don’t want to change that and turn it into a job, because the feelings of joy and freedom would be lost. I consider my lens to being the link between wildlife and the viewer, and to show the elusive beauty of nature — a beauty that is slowly disappearing”, Sergey says.
Sergey’s main focus is the Russian Arctic and bears, but when he comes to Londolozi for two weeks at a time we primarily focus on leopards. He has taught me to try and capture the unusual and he always says, “I never know when the shot will come, but when fate gives you a chance, you must be ready to act.”
Spending 14 days with Sergey has led to a brand new chapter in my photographic journey. I hope that this growth is depicted in the images below.
The Tail of Mashaba’s Cubs
The most incredible part of Sergey’s last trip was the insight we got into the new life in the heart of Londolozi. We spent over 50 hours looking for the Mashaba Female and her two new beings. It was the most I’ve ever followed an individual and by the last couple days the tracker I work with, Lucky, could almost precisely understand how, where and when she moved. Incredibly we were able to watch the development of the characters and confidence of the young male and female cubs – a very special time.
One of the first views we had of one of the Mashaba females cubs. ( f2.8, ISO 500, 1/600 sec. )
Affection was always shown to their protector and mother. (f2.8, ISO 2000, 1/800 sec)
The young male always seemed to show more confidence. (f.4, ISO 2500, 1/640 sec)
On our third last day the Mashaba female moved her cubs to another den. She moved them with extreme caution and we were fortunate to have a brief view of them in the open. (f2.8, ISO 2000, 1/200 sec)
Stalking with stature; already their movement is fluid, showing their instinctive nature. (f3.2, ISO 500, 1/600 sec)
Born to pounce. (f.5, ISO 250, 1/800 sec)
A special moment between the two that will eventually go separate ways once they reach maturity. (f2.8, ISO 800, 1/2000 sec). A glimpse into Mashaba’s Past
Along with seeing Mashaba and her two cubs, we were able to briefly follow her only surviving cub, the Mashaba Young Female.
Back lighting of the Mashaba Young Female. (f2.8, ISO 1600, 1/125 sec)
Underexposing at last light in some situations is better than increasing ISO to get the image in colour. (f2.8, ISO 400, 1/3000 sec)
The Struggles for Power
There is the constant battle for territory and power, both of which change shape and go through ebbs and flows. The Piva Male had battle wounds from a territorial fight over his territory. We believe the antagonist in this case was the Inyathini male, who was also found at around the same time with lacerations on his face.
The Piva Male has a defiant presence that he carries with him. It will be interesting to see if it lasts. (f2.8, ISO 400, 1/800 sec)
This was the last time I saw the Gowrie male. There were signs of wounds around his neck and his right eye was heavily swollen. Nevertheless, his eyes always made you feel as if he was looking into your soul. (f2.8, ISO 400, 1/800 sec)
We waited patiently for the Gowrie Male to move from the shade of a giant granite rock. Once it had cooled down, he moved and lay down on the higher bank of the Manyalethi River. This allowed us a rare opportunity to get an eye-level perspective. (f.5, ISO 800, 1/320 sec)
This was an interesting interaction of hierarchy and pure opportunism. Shortly after a cheetah made an impala kill, a hyena stole it. The Tutlwa Female was on a granite rock in the Sand River watching the story unravel. She smartly moved towards where the hyena was and lay in wait. There was a second when the hyena was distracted by a jackal; the Tutlwa Female didn’t hesitate, and she just managed to steal and secure the remainder of the kill in a Leadwood Tree. (f2.8, ISO 2000, 1/250 sec)
In true wild dog fashion we unexpectedly happened to stumble across a pack at just the right time of the afternoon. We saw them finish off a young nyala kill, chase hyenas and then get chased themselves by a dazzle of zebras. (f.4, ISO 2000, 1/200 sec)
Short but Sharp
In search for the naturally elusive leopard we managed to stumble across a number of other interesting photographic opportunities. This was one of the best times to learn and ask Sergey questions. It was often these shorter, smaller moments that left a crater of impact and memories that I will hold dear.
I recently did a blog on this incredible and shy animal. Spending over 30 minutes with a honey badger will go down as one of my fondest memories of the two weeks. (f.4, ISO 400, 1/400 sec)
Dust and golden morning light. (f5.6, ISO 400, 1/800 sec)
One of the only places at Londolozi where you can get clear sky with a low-angle perspective. This giraffe gave us a great opportunity. (f2.8, ISO 250, 1/6400 sec)
A kudu bull at sunset. (f3.5, ISO 320, 1/2600 sec)
The last photograph of the two weeks. An African Jacana walking on a thin layer of bright green duckweed. The fast shutter speed captured the movement of the water behind the large jacanas foot. (f2.8, ISO 250, 1/4000 sec)
What did you think of these images?
Written and photographed by Don Heyneke- Londolozi Ranger
There is nothing that I enjoy more than connecting with ‘foodie folk’ who are as passionate about food, wine and beautiful places as I am. So, you can imagine my absolute delight on meeting Aron Mullis, Head Chef of The Hand in Flowers in Marlow. We went to visit him and what a delightful establishment it is. Owned by Chef Tom Kerridge, this one Michelin Star ‘gastro pub’ is more than what meets the eye… Delicious food is served in an informal space where the emphasis is on comfort and quality of food. The food is distinctive and bold while retaining its simplicity, a style that resonates with our Londolozi food ethos of being ‘simply sophisticated’.
Pork Cracklings – a little appetizer to get the taste buds going! Washed down with their incredible homemade Pear ‘bubbles’ – wish I could have bought 2 cases!
Duck Liver Parfait with Orange Chutney and Toasted Brioche
Spiced Sweetcorn Soup with Spring Onion and Blowtorched Lime
Hand & Flowers Warm Gala Pie with “Matson” Spiced Sauce
Twice cooked fries with a delicious side salad of organic leaves
White Peach Soufflé with Tea Sorbet and Rosemary Custard
Next up was something new and exciting in London –NOPI is part of the famous Ottolenghi dynasty and has recently opened its doors. This Soho based restaurant still celebrates the traditional bold flavours of Ottolenghi, however, NOPI has a slightly different feel to its trademark delis. We ate downstairs in the informal communal dining area, which was a novel experience. Surrounded by all the ingredients used on the menu, it was fun to see the chefs popping out the kitchen to grab a litre of Virgin olive oil or a large tin of olives.
The informal communal dining area with a birds eye view of the kitchen right in the hustle and bustle of it all
Pio Tosini Prosciutto, Beer Piquillo – thinly shaved prosciutto with the sweet tastes of peppers and crisp tartness of the watercress was sublime – my ideal lunch!
Scallops, Apple, nettle and lemon puree – simply fabulous
Pork Shoulder Croquettes, kohlrabi, nashi pear & basil mayonnaise
Their signature – Courgette and manouri fritters with cardamom yoghurt – delicious!
After you’re done grazing through the incredible food, take a bathroom break and be ready to be multiplied! Pretty crazy bathrooms.
I always love meeting up with old friends, so when Dominic called up and suggested lunch at Baraffina, the answer was easy. I used to be Dominic’s private chef in Cape Town before moving to Londolozi, so we had lots of catching up to do. With Dom being an esteemed foodie himself, I knew the restaurant recommendation would not be disappointing. This two Michelin Star Tapas Bar is situated in the heart of Soho and is incredible. Don’t be later than 12h00 though, otherwise you won’t get a table!
Barraffina serves contemporary and traditional dishes from all regions of Spain – expect the freshest seafood and dishes that are prepared in front of you. We trusted Dominic’s suggestions as he knows Barraffina well and were definitely not disappointed.
Pimentos de Padron – a taste sensation extraordinaire!
Baby Grilled Artichokes with Aioli
Chipirones – deep fried calamari with chili and salt
Octopus with Capers – grilled octopus with the smoky aroma of capers
Green Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Parmesan Shavings – another all time favourite of mine! One of my big foodie inspirations is that of Skye Gyllenhall.
Having moved from Petersham Nursery Café in Richmond– Skye has moved into a beautiful dining space set in the New Wing of the iconic Somerset House. The food is wholesome and produce driven (a lot of the ingredients come from their farm called Fern Yarrow). The interiors are peaceful and artistic with hundreds of paper flowers pasted to the walls and the staff are donned in different shades of green.
An appetizer – Fritto misto of sage flowers – deep fried sage flowers with a squeeze of fresh lemon
Pappardelle with Sage and Crème Fraiche – this for me was so heartwarming and delicious – the pasta perfectly cooked and draped with the subtle flavours of sage and citrus…. As you can imagine, I have recreated this delicious dish at Londolozi!
Pan fried Scallops with green tomatoes, fennel and sweet cicely
Hundreds of handmade paper flowers adorn the grass wall paper walls
In conclusion to my London Food Safari 2015 – I leave you hopefully wanting to get on a plane and experience these wonderful restaurants for yourself. If you have been to any of the past featured restaurants or markets, please let me know as I would love hear all about it.
Written and Photographed by Chef Anna Ridgewell
Steuart Pennington, CEO of South Africa: The Good News recently shared his wealth of knowledge about South Africa. An authority on Africa and South Africa and an author of a number of books on the country, Steuart shared fascinating insights about South Africa’s population, economy, heath sector, transport access and more.
Some Say… I am In Africa
The Truth is… Africa is in Me
Steuart’s inspiration for his work came about, a couple of years ago, after having attended a dinner party where the conversation at the time turned to the negative issues that were being broadcast about South Africa, its leadership and safety. Not one person at the table had anything positive to say about the country and this angered him. “I was adamant that I would change this negative perception and set out investigating the good news showing people just how much we have to appreciate.”
The greenest canyon in the world – the Blyde River Canyon. Photograph by Rich Laburn
His talk made me think about the many incredible reasons that we have to love our country and why South Africa is simply awesome. Here are just a few impressive facts to start the first of our South Africa is Awesome series:
South Africa has 11 official Languages
South Africa is rich in culture and boasts equal status to 11 official languages. The languages include: English, Sesotho, Sepedi, Xitsonga, Siswati, Afrikaans, Tshivenda, isiXhosa, isiNdeble, isiZulu and Setswana. The Xitsonga language is spoken by as many as 2.3 million people and is the home language of the majority of Shangaan staff working at Londolozi.
South Africa is the first country outside of Europe to gain Blue Flag Status for Coastal Management
The Blue Flag is an award in recognition of beaches and marinas where a standard of excellence meets all 27 criteria of coastal management including safety, services, water quality and cleanness… South Africa has as many as 41 beaches and five marinas with this status.
Long Beach, Noordhoek, Western Cape.
Home to 8 World Heritage Sites
South Africa is a place of great beauty and this has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that declared eight sites with World Heritage status. The following eight destinations in South Africa are World Heritage Sites: Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Cape Floral Kingdom, Mapungubwe National Park, iSimagaliso Wetland Park, Robben Island, The Vredefort Dome, The Cradle of Humankind and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
The scenerity of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. Photograph copyright: Tim Nicholas
The Biggest Man-Made Forest in the World
Johannesburg is the economic hub of the country but it is also famous as the biggest man-made forest in the world with as many as 10 million trees. The next time you visit this city take note of how many beautiful trees can be seen along pavements and in people’s homes.
It is estimated that there are around 10 million trees in Johannesburg from pavements and sidewalks to trees in private homes. Image courtesy of Google Images, unlicensed footage.
The Largest Green Canyon in the World
The Blyderiver Canyon in Mpumalanga forms part of the northern Drakensberg escarpment and boasts verdant landscapes, unearthly rock formations and animals such as hippos, monkey, crocodiles and antelope to name a few of its residents. Bird watchers must look out for eagles and falcons. Apart from being the greenest, the canyon is also the third largest in the world.
Can you think of some reasons that make South Africa simply amazing? Share your suggestions in the comments below.
Written by Kate Collins
Join me for dinner at the opulent Le Gavroche in London, a walk through the Columbia Flower Street Market (that will leave you in awe), and food markets to feast your eyes on.
The famous Soufflé Suissesse – Cheese Souffle cooked in double cream, made for the Queen over 40 years ago and still an incredible and consistent signature of Le Gavroche.
Something very rare – Oeuf de Mouette Asperges et Caviar – Poached Gull Egg with Oscietra Caviar and Asparagus Tips. These Gull Eggs are only found for five weeks of the year during this particular time – imagine the texture of softly poached gull eggs with the subtle crunch of asparagus and caviar melting in your mouth…
Salade de Crabe et Crabe Mou Frit Tomatoe et Balsamic Blanc – Portland and Soft Shell Crab Salad, Tomato and White Balsamic – another incredibly delicious plate of textures and spoils.
Although Emanuel put together our menu for the evening together with Michel Roux Jnr himself, we insisted to have our favourite from each year!
Coeur d’Artichaut “Lucullus” – Aritchoke filled with Foie Gras, Truffles and Chicken Mousse – mouthwatering and sensational – a must for anyone dining at Le Gavroche.
Homard Pôché Parfumé à la Citronelle et Coco – Butter Poached Lobster, Coconut and Lemon Grass Bisque Sauce – simple, light, tasty and full of subtle flavours
Filet de Veau Rossini – Veal Fillet with Foie Gras and Truffle Madeira Sauce – extremely rich and decadent.
My all time favourite ending at Le Gavroche – the Cheese Board. An amazing selection of Cheeses from all over the world and this year a five year old Cheddar that I’m still thinking about!
During our dinner at Le Gavroche, Emmanuel found out we were travelling to Marlow the following day so insisted that we make a stop at The Waterside Inn. “Guided by the inimitable Alain Roux – whose passion for food is a reflection of his father’s – this team continues to create food that delights even the most discerning palates.”
Due to Londolozi having three Relais & Chateaux, camps, it was an honour to visit and dine here. Diego Masciaga’s dedicated commitment to service and hospitality clearly showed me why this establishment is unashamedly one of the best. We had the pleasure of meeting him and he coerced us into not only a canapé and a glass of bubbles, but a four-course lunch!
Émietté de tourteau du Devon au naturel, crémeux Du Barry et caviar osciètre “Royal de Belgique” – Flaked Devon Crab with a smooth cauliflower cream and oscietra “Royal Belgian Caviar” – this dish was not only so pretty (note how they have thinly sliced the cauliflower and dipped in beetroot juice to replicate the look of coral!) it was light and delicious.
Fleur de courgette farcie aux senteurs des sous-bois et sa palette de primeurs du Val de Loire agrémentés d’huile d’olive à la truffe écrasée – Courgette flower filled with wild mushrooms, spring vegetables tossed in a warm olive oil with chopped truffle – a highlight of my lunch as all these flavours were incredible together – sadly this was the last week it was being served due to the seasons changing.
Tronçonnettes de homard poêlées minute au porto blanc – Pan-fried Lobster medallions with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne
And why not end off with not just one dessert but a few?
Outside The Waterside Inn in the rain. Big smiles on our faces as it was a day to be remembered forever – Thank you Diego and your amazing team!
A new find for me this year was done by Alex, who insisted that she take us to the Columbia Flower Street Market. What an incredible street – imagine a road, filled with flowers of every variety – the scent of fresh peony’s, sweet peas, hydrangeas and roses – the flower sellers shouting their prices loud and clear as we strolled through the rain! I felt as though I was on the set of My Fair Lady (one of my childhood favourite movies). A great morning out and something I would recommend everyone visiting London should do.
As you may remember, one of my favourite things to do is browse markets and this year Borough Market was once again on our Saturday itinerary. There’s nothing better after your first cup of coffee, than finding the place for the best bacon ‘buttie’ in the world! Then feasting your eyes on the pure and utter beauty of food, breads, Turkish delights and the market buzz
Another all time Anna favourite – Turkish delight. This year, the newest flavour was Pomegranate and Cherry. Needless to say many of these were devoured. The breads were incredible and taken as an inspiration for our new baker the fabulous and passionate, Brite Ncube (watch this space for his story coming soon).
Never one to dismiss a glass of fine wine, once again I was spoilt beyond belief. I couldn’t help think of Kim Drake, our resident Sommelier who readily agreed that I was a very lucky person! Below are a few wines of the many that were served at La Gavroche and The Waterside Inn.
From left to right: the first three-courses were enjoyed with these wines.
Le Gavroche wines and an incredible 20-year-old Port which accompanied my cheese
Some of the wines tasted at The Waterside Inn…
Even though my tummy was quite full and my senses were charged, I still managed to fit in another four of London’s finest dining establishments. Keep feasting your eyes as there is more in store next week.
Written and Photographed by chef Anna Ridgewell
The cool, fresh morning air in southern Africa brings about an excitement that can be felt by all as a new day begins presenting new challenges and new possibilities. The energy radiates off the animals as they eagerly await the first warm rays of sunlight. Enjoy the skies, the sunlight and the animals.
I always feel blessed to be able to start my day in such an incredible manner. A beautiful sunrise. ISO 640 F4 1/8000
A Mhangeni youngster prepares herself for another day. ISO 1000 F4 1/1250
A young hyena anxiously awaits mom’s return. ISO 1250 F2.8 1/640
The striking contrast in colours of a hornbill is always a favourite of mine to try capture. ISO 400 F2.8 1/2500
The Tsalala youngsters are all starting to come into their own as their scruffy manes start to develop. ISO 1000 F2.8 1/640
A male cheetah spends the last dying moments of the day scanning the area and soaking up the last rays of sunlight. Iso 200 F2.8 1/2000
Something I have waited over two years to see. The Tsalala pride crossing the Sand River. Iso 800 F5 1/2500
A hammerkop patiently waits for fish and frogs to be washed over the causeway. ISO 800 F4 1/1000
Young and inquisitive, it is always fascinating watching young animals explore new smells and sounds. ISO 1250 F2.8 1/125
The Mashaba female rests in a clearing late into the afternoon before disappearing into thicker vegetation. Iso 800 F4 1/320
This cheetah uses a mound to scan the area for any potential prey or threat which allowed us a great eye level look at this magnificent predator. ISO 1000 F2.8 1/800
Side light often creates a different angle and highlights key features. A Tsalala lioness strolls off and disappears into the darkness. ISO 1000 F2.8 1/125
Breaking the rules of photography can sometimes work in your favour. In this image I purposefully shot a tight angle to emphasise the golden light on the zebra’s face. ISO 800 F5 1/2000
The contrasting colours of black and white shows off the power of the newly dominant Piva male. ISO 800 F5.6 1/160
The variated colours of the sunset was a wonderful way to end off yet another successful week in the bush. ISO 640 F7.1 1/4000
Written and Photographed by: Trevor Ryan McCall-Peat,
Scars –untold stories of hardship and aggression but also of a brotherhood and support. New lions to the area with an unknown history. Lens 500mm Nikkor , ISO 800, Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/2500sec.
Ears – hearing is the link between the unknown and the seen. When vision is cast elsewhere gaps can be filled by the airwaves. Lens 500mm NIkkor, ISO 1000, Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/1000sec.
Hunger – a drawn in stomach indicates the need for a meal. Starvation or life.Motivation does not come in more potent forms. Lens 500mm, ISO 800, Aperture f5.0, Shutter Speed 1/1000sec.
Contact – physical touching rarely seen in a solitary species. Lens 300mm Nikkor, ISO200 , Aperture f2.8, Shutter Speed 1/1600sec.
Reflection – mirroring or showing an image; a thought taking place in consideration or meditation. Are they capable of the latter? Lens 500mm Nikkor, ISO800 , Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/400sec.
Camouflage – the act, means, or result of obscuring things to deceive. No longer necessary after years of gained trust. Lens 500mm Nikkor, ISO 1000, Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/160.
Ripple –a small wave or series of waves on the surface of water. Not necessarily restricted to water and waves but actions of life. Lens 500mm Nikkor, ISO 400, Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/2000sec.
Movement – an act of changing physical location. These changes are a daily occurrence but the shift of territory is on much slower scale. Lens 500mm Nikkor, ISO 500, Aperture f5.0, Shutter Speed 1/2000sec.
Teeth – shapes and sizes differ but the function remains the same. Lens 200-400mm Nikkor, ISO 1250, Aperture f4.0, Shutter Speed 1/320sec.
Whiskers – an addition to the sense of touch, a 6th sense if you will. A guide when all other senses are momentarily insignificant. Lens 300mm Nikkor, ISO 800, Aperture f8.0, Shutter Speed 1/800sec.
Focus – the state or quality of having clear visual definition. The clarity of which could mean the difference between a meal or an empty stomach. Lens 300mm Nikkor, ISO 800, Aperture f2.8, Shutter Speed 1/640sec.
The focus of this post was on the photos so I thought I would let them have their say before I had mine. A brief connection that we hold onto for as long as possible and once it’s gone find ourselves chasing it again. The selection of images above are some of those moments, many I have not been able to capture. I feel that photographing wildlife cannot be forced and the moments, particularly the great ones, are opportunities where for a short time everything comes together. Such moments can’t be setup; they can only be captured if the time is right.
The bulk of the images above are all shot with longer lenses. I love being able to use long lenses to create a sense of intimacy. I also enjoy shooting with a very low aperture and a shallow depth of field to really focus attention for my intended subject within my subject.
I hope you enjoyed my small collection. Which one did you enjoy the most?
Written and photographed by Simon Smit, Londolozi ranger