TRIP ADVISOR AWARDS

IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE TO ANNOUNCE THAT GARONGA HAS AGAIN BEEN AWARDED BY TRIP ADVISOR THE FIRST IN THE OVERALL CATEGORY AWARDS WORLDWIDE. WE ARE ALL VERY HONOURED TO BE GIVEN THIS AWARD WHICH COMES FROM “YOU, THE GUESTS”. THANKS SO MUCH! IT IS THE STAFF WHO MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE AND QUITE RIGHTLY THEY  SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF THIS AWARD.

ALL THE BEST, BERNIE

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December News

Trusting you had a grand Xmas and New Year and now back to the grindstone. In December everything closes down for 4 weeks here in SA, and so phones etc are very minimal; all seems awesomely quiet. People drive off to the Beach or the Kruger and so tale long queues at the Toll Roads – what a great start. Then there are the Road Accident results here – this festive season over 1400 killed on the roads; most of them due to those suicidal non-caring, overloaded taxis. The Cops – well, that’s a waste of time!

Talking about Cars, how very sensitive some are about mickey taking. Jeremy Clarkson in UK from the TV Car Show Top gear, stating a very amusing cliché of “They should be shot” (The Strikers in November). I mean how many times have we heard or said that – we don’t mean it! But now apologies have to be issued, and soothe those sensitive souls who actually thought they were going to be shot by Jeremy Clarkson – how absolutely pathetic. The Word Gestapo are out there – watch out! Now I see Diane Abbott (Black MP in UK – am I allowed to say “Black”?) mouthing off and then being accused of racism. Come on – we can take this. Just ignore them if you don’t like it; don’t go crying to the papers. Poor Souls!!!!!!! Jeremy Clarkson you carry on, that’s why people watch you; those that don’t like his humour; guess what, you can actually change your TV to another of the 5 or 6 channels now on. I know, technology is amazing. Press Button and wow, you have another channel!

"You can't beat it - 1 week old!"

Sarkozy – just remember Waterloo! You had to have a go didn’t you at Britain not dancing to your gallic Tune. Wait till your People decide they don’t like something and then all hell breaks loose in France – they block all the roads, and the Government backtracks. Anyway Nicolas, Old Boy, you just stick with your Euro, and stop poncing around with a scarf round your neck as if you were some French fashion icon!

Syria – well, that’s a lost case. The poisoned dwarf from next door in Iran is just propping you up, so that he doesn’t feel “lost” if you were to go. The Tyrant from N.Korea – gone, to be replaced with a younger one educated in Switzerland; that should help! Now you have an educated tyrant instead.

Amazing year though – all those Dictators gone; Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen (Soon), Libya, N.Korea; only missing Zimbabwe, but they have no oil, so they don’t count.

South Africa gave a good hiding to Sri Lanka in the cricket. Australia doing the same against India. Rugby – 6 nations to start soon; more pool braiis watching ellies! Someone has to do it.

"Me trying to be artistic!"

Now down here in Sleep Hollow of Garonga a warm welcome back to Tony and Susanne, Fabian and Laura, Paul and Jo, and Steve and Deborah! Many congratulations to William and Siobhan for tying the knot in “Whites” – a First! Keep them coming.

Unfortunately over Xmas period we did have a few downpours (good for us but not when you come to Africa for Xmas). Over 80mm during Xmas and New Year, cancelling or rather evacuating a sleep out on New years Eve. But such a great crowd in, that it was still great fun. We did the traditional Roast Turkey on Xmas Night with, of course, the Bread sauce. But only 2 takers, so I think for next year a good traditional BBQ will be better. New years Eve, a couple of diehards up to Midnight, but after that “Light Out”. After all you are up in the morning at 0500 hrs here at Garonga Boot Camp.

The Game Viewing has been incredibly good. Lions, Leopard, ellies, Rhino and the Cheetah seen on many Game drives, and of course stacks of Plains Game. Safari have been trying to find the “Poo Spitting Champion”; we may have one! But seriously the Guides have done an excellent job in very thick terrain. We had the breeding herd of Ellies (30+) in front of the camp one lunch with 1 week old calf; so vulnerable you think it’s going to get squashed as you can’t even see it in the thick grass. We did see the calf going down a gentle slope but then lost its balance and keeled over. All good things take time. I mean I still do that anyway.

The Kitchen has produced amazing dishes as ever, yet still complaints on “Too much food”. Ok, so back to Boot camp, and watery soup and a bit of cabbage! Hopefully the recipe will be more entertaining. Anyway well done to the Chefettes!

"Try it and see!"

On the Staff front we welcome Angelique as Therapist. She has settled in very well and broken records already. Never did like the Bee Gees anyway! Sung as though their trousers were too tight! Percy (from the old days) came in to help Track for a few days. He’s now joined the Communist party! But he states it’s because they need to infiltrate it and ………………! Umm, I lost it after that.

All the staff went out on a day out for their Xmas outing and had a thoroughly good time. Never asked where they went – but they were smiling when they got back!

Many thanks indeed to all the Staff for 2011. From Scullery to management they all are equally important; one breaks down and I end up washing up!

Well, as I say, back to getting as many guests out here as possible this year. It’s been a good year in the circumstances, and we look forward to welcoming you here. Don’t just look at the price, look at what you get – all meals, all drinks, safaris, laundry, bush baths, sleep outs, picnics. Honestly a really good deal. Stay 5 nights pay for 4 throughout the year; wedding and incredible honeymoon packages. Spectacular surroundings and really friendly, amusing and Obliging Staff. One big happy family. That’s my marketing speel over. On that note many thanks indeed to Ethos Marketing in UK, ETC Hella and Roland in Germany, and Andy, Lizette, and Beth from Africa In Focus in South Africa, and last but by no means least Paul and his team at Wildweb who actually send out this letter – for that I give them 100% for daring to.

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October and November News

Death of a dictator; maybe the mad colonel’s death was not particularly pleasant but, hey, these aren’t the playing fields of Eton. They have their ways, we have ours. Not too surprising therefore that the Syrian Pres. is holding on literally for dear life. Good for the Egyptians to force the army to relinquish authority, as no doubt they were up to their old tricks; let’s hope it works out there for them.

So this is how democracy works in Europe. 2 Countries don’t like the way other countries are being lead; so they tell them change your leaders or you don’t get our cash. It is quite interesting though that the Greeks don’t seem to siesta 75% of the days any more but spend most of their time out on demos or striking; pity they can’t works a much as they do on demos! Remember when the irish voted against the European thing a few years back, and then the EU told them to vote again! Keep voting people until you say “yes”.

Bunga Bunga is now off the agendas. Poor old Slivio. Then in England there’s an idiot of an MP (that is strange isn’t it!!) who decides to drop his parliamentary papers into a public waste bin. Can’t they afford shredders, or even a fireplace? Letwin you cretin, wake up and get a real job! God, where do they find them! So England was closed for the 30th November because 30% of union voters wanted to strike, and the union barons/dictators/oligarchs (whatever you want to call them) reckoned that was a huge mandate for their “day of action”. Democracy works in interesting ways.

Here in SA big mouth youth league leader, Julius Malema, is suspended, and now wants to take up cattle farming. So he has a cattle farm now, on top of his mansions, cars etc. Unfortunately he has a lot of unused oxygen, and no doubt he will keep depriving some of us of ours.

England thrashed by India in cricket; revenge is sweet no doubt for that very proud cricketing nation – India that is! The Rugby World Cup is now done and dusted. What a great result; very chuffed for the Kiwis – they have deserved it for ages. England win two football matches on the trot and so now, England are world champions.

Down here in not so sunny Garonga we have been blessed with rains. First of all though many congratulations to Martijn and Annelies for cracking the bottle, tying the knot at a splendid wedding here. Welcome back to Lizette who came up with family, also to Naas and Adre’, and Jennifer.

The veldt is looking really lush and green now after having had 236mm since the season began in October. Plenty of thunder and lightning storms which also blew our PC’s. To be honest recently we have had hardly any sun for about 2 weeks or so. But it is now back, so don’t start unpacking yet.

The game viewing has been haphazard with some really splendid moments, and some frustrating with the bush being so thick. The reserve took off 15 Ellies and relocated them in a new reserve just north of Pretoria. They are well settled in by now, and the others that remain have resumed normality as it is an extremely stressful time for them during the operation which worked very smoothly thanks to Ross (reserve warden) and his wife, Auds (research ecologist; should also be reserve psychologist!). We have purchased a rhino cow, hopefully pregnant, and the new 4 lions we swapped have all settled in well.

The kitchenettes have as ever been producing brilliant food, and picnics, sleep out menus are as popular as ever. Hopefully a brilliant recipe will be attached to this letter. The health menus are also proving very popular especially coming in to summer where hot food is not so attractive excepting the truckers breakfast of course.

On the training front a big thanks to Andrew again for 1st aid training to some general Staff members, however I do have to remind some of them that they are not quite yet “doctors”!

My nephew, Taro, has returned to mud island after 2 months gap here at Garonga. He is sadly missed by all, having had 3 surrogate Mothers here. When returning to my house for the first time after his departure there felt a huge loss, not least his very entertaining company and his culinary skills. Anyway he is now working in London temporarily until he starts his studies again.

I was away for 4 weeks, firstly to celebrate a fellow lodge owner’s 50th Birthday in UK. This was a truly memorable occasion, great fun and laughter throughout the night, not least being woken at 05:30 in the morning by fire alarms in the hotel as one of the fellow invitees (also lodge owner) got locked out of his room thinking he was going to the loo; can you picture the scene now AND it’s caught on the security CCTV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe something for YouTube Tom! It was a real Africa evening with guests from the lodges all over Africa and also from the travel trade. After that it was work at the WTM travel show; a great reunion with fellow riflemen for a fantastic lunch and so on (no, you don’t need to know!); some shooting, and then it’s all over and you return with the Lurgy! Even whiskey doesn’t get rid of it.

Just another one to throw in here. A great friend was asked to break in a horse (no this is NOT a joke), and he thought nothing of it until the horse galloped away with him riding, and suddenly decided to do an “emergency stop”! You know that Tom Cruise film “Top Gun” and the song they sang, “Great balls of Fire”; well amend that to “Great balls ON fire”. Will see you soon “…” no names no pack drill! HA!

Well this will be the last one for 2011 as the next one will only be out in January 12. How it has flown. I wish you all the very best for the festive Season. Thanks indeed for all your support especially in these very tricky times.

Let’s not forget those out there putting their lives on the line for us. H4H and “Care For Casualties”. Good luck to all In 2 Rifles, and not least their very precious families!

All the best
Bernie

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August and September News

Yes, back again. It’s been two months now and I’m sure most of you get weekly, monthly newsletters anyway from various establishments, and so would rather not drown you in news too regularly. However with our new up and running web blog which I try and send every so often this will seem to dissipate the newsletter somewhat. I know the Guys from Wildweb (Our Web Organisers) can be heard muttering “It’s not really that difficult” which it isn’t but the time factor is, and having read some facebooks it seems there is plenty of time out there! So blogging has begun, and even my nephew decided to have a bash whilst I was away on a sales trip to Joburg. Mind you, his generation (sounding old now) grew up on this thing. He wrote a very good blog I thought minus the photos. So those of you who have sent in facebook comments, many thanks and apologies if I haven’t “responded”. Those that have been here and wish to send some pictures to add to the facebook page please do so.

So back to crisis in Europe, USA, and Middle East; what’s new! Nothing, excepting our leaders are NOT leading and this is why we voted them in?? They squabble like little children in the US between Senate and Representatives because they don’t satisfy their egos. Obama to give him credit has tried to get the country back but the Republicans (purely out of spite) block him, putting the world economy at risk. In Europe the same; a bunch of leaders who cannot agree to anything; God help us in a War; we may as well put the white flag up straight away. Pathetic. Let Greece default; it’s going to happen, why try and stop something that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Libya; still he tries to hang on despite the changes that have already happened. Let the Arab Democracy spread and neutralize the Muslim Fundamentalists at the same time. The trajic events in Kenya where two hostages have been taken and one tourist killed. Come on Kenya, put a stop to these Somali Pirates; go in hard and punish them severely. Kenya taking the brunt now of an exclusion zone round the very popular Lamu Archipilago which I know well, and so popular. When will Somalia ever come right?

"Something in your eye, Son?"

The long ago riots in UK. Totally unacceptable and no excuse whatsoever despite Liberal statements of appeasement. Don’t send them all to jail, only the ones who have committed a serious crime; the others caught up and joining in; give them a fluorescent jacket, a bass broom and tell them to sweep the streets for 6 months for 10 hours a day. Pay them five quid a day, and a hot meal once a day. Clean the streets that you dirtied, and if you don’t…… keep sweeping sunshine!

Sports – England cricket completely thrashing the World Cup Holders, India. Brilliant stuff. Top of the world now. Something to neutralise the doom and gloom. The RWC in it’s qualifying rounds now; I hope a North/South Final, and New Zealand being the South!

Here in SA Juju Malema (the Big Mouth with little to no Intelligence) is sick with Flu avoiding his Disciplinary hearing! We’ve all tried that “Sick Note” thing; who are you kidding Juju! Strike season seems to be over. Fuel prices go up despite brent crude going down – how does that work? The Home Affairs department has passed it first audit in 14 years! I received my renewal firearms license from them after 6 years of reaplying; one of them out of the 3 at least. So things apparently are moving. Watch this space.

Perfect spacing and in step - sound familiar?

Now down to the real stuff. August improved quite a bit and September was nice and busy also; great after a disasterous June and July. A number of weddings in both months and so a hearty congratulations to Neil and Natalie, Arno and Andrea, Steve and Pippa (hope you enjoyed the Le petit Ferme), and finally Bart and Sanne; a great thanks to George and Louise for making their day so special. Also a warm welcome back to Mandy and Thaine, Michael, and Howard and Cathy. Also to welcome back the 7th Cavalry Division from Wait a Little ; thanks Philip and Gerti, and Barney for paying us another visit with the Horses; always great fun and very entertaining Guests, despite the Big head in the morning! It’s a tradition you may have figured out already. Thanks also to Lisa and Lyndsey for coming to visit from one of our top suppliers (Turquoise Travel), AND Lisa comes from a great part of the world called “Hambleden”!! Those on Honeymoon, many congratulations! CJ and his staff at Little Garonga also performed an excellent service to our Guests up there – well done; you are a great credit to Garonga in carrying on pretty much on your own with no problems.

The game sightings have been brilliant with Lions, Some ellies, Rhino and her playful calf with her brother, Leopard, the Cheetah and excellent plains game. The Guides are now called the “A” team but which team is the A Team as they both seem to get that title! Musa and Ruel seem to quietly go about their business but nearly always are the first to find something, whereas Josia and Patrick also find the game but are very entertaining; so a great combination. CJ at Little Garonga goes about his business in a very professional and extremely informative way! Anyway well done Guys, and thanks! Please check out our site for new Images, and keep sending in your Pictures.

"Mum, when I get older, will I look like you as I'm so cute as I am"!

The Veld of course is dry now but still looking good; no rains to date but on the way I’m sure as we have had some incredibly hot days. Sleep Outs have been very popular indeed with one every other day; something very exciting – the Loo construction has been completed by Andy and The farm team; so now you can loo with a clear piece of mind! The Kitchen have done tremendous food, and now in September we move to Summer routine with Lunches and Picnics and no more thick chocolate cake (that’s a crying shame!) for high teas. Thanks indeed to Debby who came up and trained the Chefs again for 5 days; we have some great new ideas; potjkes now are on the Boma menu, and we still do the Sunday Curry nights, carvery nights and so on; always something different.

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Leopard and Hail makes a quality combination

Hi there. My name is Taro Smith, I’m Bernie Smiths nephew. This week Bernie has gone away for a few days which has given me the opportunity to write a blog. I know of course that since this is the first blog that Bernie hasn’t written it is up to me to blow our readers away with a wonderful blog written by an amateur blogger. This week has been quite exciting animal wise as we have had our first sighting of the leopard cubs. To our amazement the guests watched both the mother leopard and her cubs playing around for about half an hour! However this sighting was brought to end by a small hail storm which seemed to spark up more interest with the rangers than the leopards sighting! Fair point, I guess a hail storm is rarer than a leopard sighting around this region.

Overall a lovely sighting and I’m very much looking forward to seeing these cubs myself!

I myself had an incredible week as I got to fly on the microlight. This was somewhat of an incredible experience to say the least. Whilst in the air I saw a range of animals including an, elephant, crocodile and vultures. I have to say actually that seeing the vultures in the air was probably the best part of the whole thing. I highly recommend doing it as it is very good fun. I would also highly recommend not sticking your hand out the side of it while in the air with your camera in your hand. Trying to take a “cool” looking photo mid-air nearly lost me my camera!

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