April and May News

What a busy world it has been recently. Those Vikings up north sending “ash instead of cash” (I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s still worth putting in!) and sending airports into turmoil. Once again that hardy breed of tour operators burning the midnight oil getting their guests hopefully home. As they say – it ain’t over yet until the fat lady sings. Lets hope not as the sister fat lady next door may well also blow hot air, and then we’re well in the…! Then the elections in UK causing quite a stir, but thankfully the Scotsman is out and we now have DC and NC. I don’t think that will last, as the Libs tend to run the moment something “bad” has to be done. Give it 6 months. GB resigns to be replaced by…? I can’t believe a Yank was the first to cross the channel with balloons. Surely that has been done before.

BP upsetting the apple cart somewhat in the USA with their oil spill. BO pretty slow to step in and assist, but very quick with the finger pointing (Like all good socialists). 1st time something as bad as this has happened so a bit new for everybody.

Down here in SA there was the murder of the white right winger, Terreblanche. That caused a stir with threats of a right wing backlash (they haven’t got it anymore). Not helped of course by the big mouth, Malema (the youth league plonker). Not one grey cell in the guy’s head. When they gave out brains, he thought they said drains. The ANC are really struggling to control their own. Also it is “strike season” here in South Africa. It was the trains; we’re just waiting to see who is next in line. The Democratic Alliance (DA) are doing very well having won 2 more by-elections from the ANC.

Can you believe it – England won something. The 20/20 cricket in the West Indies, thrashing Australia in the finals. What a pleasure! Now the Ashes to look forward to this Xmas! The Football World Cup fever has taken off here with teams arriving already. Not long to go.

One I found in the archives and feel I need to send it to improve morale - perks of the job!

Down here in Garonga Land we have the solar power working nicely, and the heater pumps for the geysers also. The biogas basically needs more food waste which is difficult when you are working below normal occupancy. April we achieved 57% occupancy for Safari Camp and 15% for Little Garonga, and then May was 20% down on last year achieving 45% occupancy for Safari Camp and 15% again for Little Garonga. Disappointing indeed. However on much more exciting stuff many congratulations to Stefan and Stephanie, and Warren and Gigi for tying the knot here at Garonga! We wish you all the best. Also a warm welcome back to Brenda, Michael and Alan and Gwen. Great to see you back after many years.

The bush is incredibly lush and green having had over 200ml in April (it just didn’t stop!). This is very unseasonal, but I think guests are sick of being told that when staying here. This really assisted a lot for up to the next rains which may not come until November. Depends what those Vikings get up to up north. First they rape and pillage England (admittedly many moons ago), then they try and pinch our cod, then they pinch our cash, then to put a cherry on the top, they send out “that stuff”. Send the navy in!

On the game front due to the late rains the ellies have been frequent visitors around the Camp. The lions have been playing “hard to get” (come on guys, do your stuff!), but overall pretty good game viewing considering the density of the bush. The leopard have been seen on the odd occasion, but otherwise good sightings of rhino, cheetah, lions. The plains game has also been frequent on Garonga with large numbers of giraffe, impala and wildebeest around. On the guides themselves we welcome Josia, and say a sad farewell to Alisa whose time elapses at the end of May. She got many very favourable feedbacks from guests. Well done and good luck. On the game front it would really be great if any guests would like to share their photos on our site. Please feel free to send them to us as we do have a folder on our website for guest’s pictures. Then at the end of the year we can have a competition for the best picture and either offer 4 nights at Garonga complimentary or, as it is difficult now to travel half way across the world, I will offer a lush dinner voucher for two. What do you think?

I’ve been away for most of April and some of May… selling in UK in April (only 2 days late back due to you know who). It was great seeing old and great supporters of Garonga. Ben, I trust you managed that climb and got back OK (Your Bergen wasn’t heavy enough when I tried it on!). Driving around Gloucestershire was fantastic. The GPS sent me on some very strange routes indeed and I saw hamlets which I thought only existed on Robin Hood film sets. It was incredible. Horses, dogs, ducks and geese running around – beats the London set. I also chanced upon Jaci from “Jacis Safari Lodge” in London as she was doing the same pretty much. We rv’d in Harrods’ food hall as we normally do and spent 3 hours lunching and munching champagne, wine and oysters! You can’t beat it. We raised our glasses to Al-Fayed just before he sold the shop to the Qataris! Thanks Jaci, but no Jan! He was gallivanting around Zaire! So the UK trip was a great success and many thanks to Sue, and Alison from Ethos Marketing for putting up with me.

Then it was a week back at Garonga before departing again for the Classic Safari Camps of Africa (www.classicsafaricamps.com) AGM held this time at “The Fort – Onguma” in Namibia. Absolutely stunning! Congrats to Andre for setting up such an awesome property. It overlooks the salt pans and borders with Etosha. We had a few days there discussing tactics and all that before moving down to Durban for the Indaba Travel Show. Classics had an incredible stand and won a “Gold Award” for best stand. Many congratulations Pauline. We also held a very successful margarita party on the stand. The show went well seeing agents and operators who you don’t really get to see from all over the globe. It was also a chance to show off the new international airport near Durban. Apparently it is great! Once the show was over it was eventually time to go back home to Garonga after nearly 6 weeks away on and off. First time in 13 years for so long a time. It was great being back, also enabling Zele to go on a well earned leave after staying on an extra week. Also a big thanks to Vanessa from reservations for only taking a weeks leave to cover over my absence. But she is about to go on 3 weeks leave now, and so I’ll be manning the desk. Could be fun.

It is VERY quiet at the moment and will be until the FWC starts. Then busy for about 3 weeks, but then July is looking terrible. I’ll have to start moonlighting!

Lets not forget the troops out in Afghanistan (help for heroes!!). We gave away a 4 night package for a H4H charity auction in early May, and are hoping to contribute towards the Aston Martin H4H charity auction soon as well. It was fantastic to see David Beckham go out there to support the troops. I take my hat off to him as he seemed incredibly humbled by the whole experience! A pity more don’t follow his example.

Finally and unfortunately on a very tragic note, I dedicate this newsletter to Olmah (the chef) who died suddenly on the 18th May. She will be sadly missed by us all. She was totally dedicated, quiet and unassuming, but never afraid to go beyond her comfort zone in the kitchen. Here’s to you Ollie “up there”, and to your 4 children! We miss you already!

Keep well out there!
All the best
Bernie

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