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Q&A DAVE VARTY, PIONEERING CONSERVATIONIST AND
OWNER, LONDOLOZI GAME LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA
Dave Varty was a schoolboy of 15 when his father died. Less than two years later and with only 62 Rand in the bank, he and his brother John started a business that would change the conservation landscape across Africa. They renamed the family farm Londolozi, derived from the Zulu word 'to protect' and made it a place where people would come to look at, not to hunt, wildlife. In 1992 he co-founded CC Africa (now called &Beyond) , and created a string of conservation-minded safari camps across the continent. Eventually feeling a need to strip back, simplify and get back to the important things in life he left the company, bought back Londolozi, now run by his children, and concentrated his energies on his beloved camp and the wildlife of the world.
His goal remains to make the world a better place for wildlife and, ultimately, for mankind.
What inspired you to create Londolozi?
Family circumstances - the untimely death of my father and the threat of the need to sell the family farm - the farm which now is Londolozi. And a combination of ignorance and fearlessness. It was a case of, "where angels fear to tread ".
 
What decided you to return to Londolozi and come 'Full Circle' * ?
The original values and beliefs of what a safari lodge should represent were being lost in the business of making profits. I needed to get back to core values. Also the need to reverse the trend of urbanizing and over regulating (taming) the bush experience which I felt we could do at Londolozi.
 
What is the single best/defining thing about Londolozi?
The land, the wild animals and her people - all rolled up into one "life changing experience".
 
What is the next big safari trend?
Getting back to basics: Simplicity, connections, involvement and meaning.
 
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a safari Lodge is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
Luxury can be a dangerous concept which can be described as a "double-edged sword". The new frontier is meditative luxury; something which is experience based not consumption based.

 

Dave Varty - Owner of Londolozi Game Lodge
Dave Varty, owner of Londolozi Game
Lodge, South Africa
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a safari Lodge doing the right thing by the animals?
The energy of place.
 
Can animals and 'luxury camps' co-exist?
[In contrast to a traditional hunting safari] the photographic safari industry is opening up remnants of a 'return to Eden' where man and animal are kin. This is evidenced by the increasing harmonious cooperative (symbiotic) relationships which are being forged between man and animals [at camps that are doing things the right way].
  Pioneer Camp, Bedroom, Londolozi
Pioneer Camp Bedroom,  Londolozi
  Private Granite Suite - View from River at Londolozi
Private Granite Suite - View from river at Londolozi
What is the one conservation initiative you long to see come to fruition?
More space for animals - corridors of wild life across the world.
 
Apart from your own, what are your favourite lodges? (And why)
Klein's Camp in Tanzania. It is wild and open. [There is] space and simple human constructions which make up the camp. Matetsi Game Lodge, Zimbabwe [at the water lodge] - the power of the river has such eminence.
 
Are you heartened or saddened by the present global attitude to conservation?
The institutional conservation initiatives and management strategies have not been successful but [people are becoming more aware] individual consciousness is exploding across the world and within this consciousness lies the possibility of a sustainable future for the human species. Balance will return to our existence because millions of individuals decide that it should be so.
 
What is your favourite city to visit?
I don't like cities.
 
What three things do you never travel without?
An air ticket and a credit card that works (I only need two things).
 
What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
The first time I saw 100,000 wildebeest on the move - pure luxury of spirit.
Varty Camp at Londolozi
Varty Camp - Londolozi Game Lodge, South Africa
What is the most important thing (travel wise) that money CAN buy?
A meaningful and authentic engagement with [all the world has to offer], and the universal life force.
 
What is the most important thing it can't?
Money can't buy love.

 

Varty's Choice

Matetsi Game Lodge, Zimbabwe: http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/

Luxury Link:

www.londolozi.com

* Dave Varty's new book, Full Circle is now available on Amazon.com . Part autobiography, part spiritual manifesto Full Circle has also been nominated by the Sunday Times and has been put on the Long list for the Alan Paton Literary Award.

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