Bush Fire on the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve near Garonga.

It had to happen some time but why a Sunday! Anyway trajically for a Giraffe, it ran into a power line causing the line to snap but also spark up on the ground. The Giraffe ran off but had been badly injured. Anyway the Bush obviously caught alight, and hey presto all men to the Pumps! After a good 4 hours it was brought under control, but was checked on throughout the night. Luckily that day/evening was cool and with no winds ( a few days before and the day after the winds were really bad, and would have caused a huge fire.

What was excellent to note was that all members of the reserve rushed to assist and so eventually we had plenty of bods. The fire was on the Siyafunda side of the reserve south of Garonga. This is always a bad time for fires when the Bush is so dry, and the weather can be very windy and hot. Anyway fingers crossed for the next 2 months before the first rains!

Dramatic picture of the fire at Dusk.

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Lion Kill

Whilst on a Night Game Drive we were fortunate to see this kill. The Male has the spoils as normal.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube DirektLion Kill

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June, July Newsletter

Here’s a good test of brain, stomach, hands, feet co-ordination; try driving and eating an egg sarnie at the same time and see where your priorities lie! It’s not easy!!

So the mad colonel is still around and all those planes and bombs doing? Let them scrap each other and get on with it. Syria; not much say there from the Arabs. Arab solution to Arab problems.

Now we have Christian fundamentalists slaughtering the innocent in the most peaceful of all countries, Norway. There really are some very odd people floating around.

In the UK we have DC telling the generals to shut up as he’ll do the talking and they do the fighting. Doesn’t work like that Dave, old chap. It was like that about a century ago. More cuts, no aircraft carrier, and more tasks; doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Soon we’ll be a little 3rd rate country bowing to the Europeans.

Now what has happened to DSK? Is he still in house arrest in his penthouse mansion? I suppose more interesting news takes over events and he’s no longer an event, but we do have a very charming woman now in charge of the IMF so thank-you DSK for something.

The News of the World – gone. All very suspicious; maybe the younger Murdoch knows more than he’s letting on. What a great read it was, but preying on the innocent like that beggers belief. Morals – none whatsoever.

Now down here in not so sunny South Africa we have strikes, strikes, and strikes. These guys I’m afraid think it’s a game because asking for 15% Increases is well………no brains! In these very difficult times you would have thought some commomsense would prevail; not here. Billions being lost on strikes! Hardly an encouragement to invest; quite the opposite.

The tri-nations in full swing but South Africa send their B or C team over to play gearing up towards the Rugby World Cup (braiis, beer, and ………. so on).

Right, sermon over, and now on to the real stuff.

As I said everyone is feeling the pinch and we have had a very poor last couple of months. It is thankfully picking up well for the next 3 months. In June Andrew (Africa In Focus) brought a number of agents down to come and inspect; thanks for that and I hope some good lasting impression was made. Great fun with Ada, Shelley and Barb; I know you had a great time at Wait a Little but needed that bit of relaxation after horse riding for 10 hard days. Hope to see you back one day to keep Musa and Ruel in check. In July a very warm welcome back to Shaun and Belinda and Paolo and Patrizia.

The bush is still looking great with plenty of excellent sightings. Lions have been everywhere, including 2 lionesses both giving birth to 3 cubs each. Lion calls close to the farmhouse practically every day. Leopard sightings, ellies, and the infamous cheetah. Walks are popular as it is pretty nippy still first thing in the mornings. Another ellie calf has also been born so all looking healthy there. It was great to welcome Brian and Dephne who had to postpone from last year. We hope to see you back again. The sleep outs are incredibly popular. On that note we will be redoing the loo there and putting it closer by and also above the ground – just don’t fall out. You just need to put in a R 5.00 coin to make it work, a bit like the gas meters from old. The safari teams were also put through their paces by Andrew in 1st aid training; half of them should have achieved a grade level 2, and the others level 1. Andrew will be back in November to do the remainder of the staff.


Down at the farmhouse the ranger training programme continues although now the instructional team have changed where we say a sad farewell to Sean, Wayne and Robyn, and a warm welcome to JP, Margaux and Sebastian. Good luck with the 14 Students you have currently. JP brings a wealth of knowledge including birding SKS qualification which hopefully the guys here can utilise and improve their birding skills and knowledge.

In the camp I have installed the “Vivreau Water System”. This allows us to get rid of the plastic water bottles and have our own Vivreau bottles which are very elegant indeed. The water runs through their filter system and it really is delicious still and sparkling water. Soon we will have also small stainless steel bottles where each guest gets issued one for their stay and fills it from the new system. They can then keep them as a momento when they depart.

On my side I took 3 weeks off and went to Italy and Switzerland. Rome, Milan, and Portofino were spectacular and I much miss it all. Rome was simply chaotic but somehow it works! The bodywork is incredible; incredible structures as you would imagine. Even the women police officers are elegant and dress in Gucci type shoes. I mean how can you argue with one of them – “yes maam, anything you say maam!”. Did some excellent hill walking in Zermatt; restaurants were out of this world. Anyway all good things come to an end.

In the kitchen the ladies have been cooking a storm! We are now coming to the last month (August) of high teas, and then next month we start again with lunches, and picnics, and only a cup of tea and a biscuit for tea. I’m sure you won’t starve. Anyway they have done a sterling job and been well complemented by a number of guests. Try the latest recipe!

On the staff side Janine has taken over as therapist; I’m sure you will find her bubbly personality infectious; Nicole copes and smiles at Mr. Grumpy, and Vanessa flings her eyes in the air and thinks “another hair-brained scheme” but it worked – our early bird special brought in a number of bookings so I added it on again to include until the end of August; check the website. Andy is slogging hard down on the farm with the veggie garden which was hit badly by the frost and porcupines (porcupine potjke is coming on the menu!). then there are numerous maintenance tasks to carry out which he and his band of brothers undertake. He will also be putting together the new sleep out loo (SOL). So thanks to all staff for the last two months.

On the last note (phew!) please do check out our new revamped website. Thanks to Paul, Brandon, and all of his team at Wildweb for doing such a splendid job. Now we have moved on to Twitter/Twatter/Twooh or whatever it is called, facebook and I’m sure there’s somethingelse. If you hear a rumbling in the ground it’s me trying to figure which button to press as nothing is simple and doesn’t say something like “press this button”! The new access road is booming, and a pleasure to drive on.

David and Eileen – thanks so much for the gloves for the guides! Can you send an email address?

We have some availability still for September and certainly for October and November; how many days to Xmas!?

Keep well and all the best.

Bernie

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Summer Routine (September to April)

The Sala. Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology

These Timings are flexible depending on Summer as it kicks in.

0545: Wake Up

00615 – 0945: Safari

0945 – 1045: Breakfast (earlier B/Fasts can be taken from 0800 hrs when the Kitchen opens. If earlier than 0800 then B/Fast Packs will be provided.

1400 – 1500: Lunch

1615 – 1630: Tea

1630 – 1900: Safari

1945: Drinks and Dinner

Walks on request will be conducted during the Safari Times only.

Massages: 0830 – 1700.The Therapist will come round during Breakfast to take Bookings.

45 Minutes = R 360.00.00.00,   60 Minutes = R 425.00.

Sleep Outs: On Request.

Star  Bath: On Request.

Fire: This is a hazard during September – November as there are no rains and the bush becomes very dry. Please be careful if smoking, and inform Staff if you see Smoke anywhere out in the Bush.

Monkeys: As the Bush becomes dry, the Monkeys become more “Interested” in the Camp. Please be careful where you leave Cameras etc and please do not leave food lying around.

Swimming-Pool: It is not heated.

Microliting: This can be arranged depending on Pilot Availability and, of course, the Weather. R 780.00 pp for a 20 Minutes Flip over the Reserve. Great Fun!

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to ask. Enjoy!

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May Newsletter

Three months and no newsletters! You must be champing at the bit (ummm!). Horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan. How they suffered and then the consequences of the nuclear reactors. But how stoic they are, repairing roads so quickly and life just getting back to normal. Then there’s the mad colonel in Libya massacring his very own people, and the same in Syria.

OK, let’s send a few million pounds worth of hardware down his throat. Unfortunately he’s just one of those survivors. Talking of which; what fantastic news about OBL (One B….rd Less) being scattered amongst the fishes. A pity they didn’t drop him out of an aircraft over the Atlantic and see what it’s like dropping from a height like a number of his victims had to on 9/11.

Certainly some embarrassed faces though in Pakistan and many questions unanswered. We all know there are a number of people high up in the echelons of power sheltering his cause, yet we still pour billions into their coffers.

Recently some excellent news with Mladic being nabbed after so long on the run; again being sheltered by those extreme orthodox nutters. Another monster taken down.

Slight embarrassment in the IMF – DSK. Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but hasn’t he “been there before”?

What about some good news for once. A brilliant royal wedding putting aside all those “moaners and groaners” who thought it not right to be having such a celebration in these difficult times.

It’s called “boosting morale”; we need something happy now and again and not all doom and gloom. Well, at least they came to “Africa” for their honeymoon. What a fantastic couple they look. However… some of those “hats”.

The Queen in Ireland – that is really something. How she keeps going and also how she is so unassuming, but grand at the same time. She was magnificent and long may it continue. So HMQ goes, and so BO has to go as well! Finding his roots!! It seems everybody wants to come from Ireland.

Great sports with a fantastic Cricket World Cup. I thought the semi-final between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was the best game and the most entertaining. Then the sub-continent winning it; even better – they thoroughly deserved it. Twitter and Ryan Giggs (how funny!); although Sir Alex doesn’t see the funny side it would appear. What a ridiculous situation with Injunctions etc – Ha! The sad sad news about Seve. An impeccable sportsmen and a huge loss for “sport” in general.

Yes, more coming! Local elections here in SA and UK. The alternative vote in UK not getting anywhere, and Labour not doing well at all. Keep it going DC (Nick – just move on and out). Here in SA the ANC were given a “warning shot”. The DA held on to the Cape as expected – The only province in SA which has passed their audit.

Down here we closed down for most of March for our annual clean up. The guides have done magnificently finding the game with some spectacular sightings. One of the best being a lioness and leopard scrapping over a kill. Then a lioness chasing the 2 male cheetah away.

Numerous lion sightings now as the big males have established their territory firmly on Garonga; almost every evening and morning you can hear them calling. This has also resulted in Cubs (3 of them). A great sighting of them walking down the airstrip following mum. Walks are proving ever more popular now that winter is setting in. Sleep outs carrying on regular as ever.

US Navy Video… Hilarious!

In April it was a pleasure to welcome back Mike and Sue, Andrew and Charlotte, Philip and Gerti with the 7th Cavalry, and finally Bea and Olivia. Also a warm welcome to Carolyn from New Frontiers and Sally from Sally and Alice Travel. In May we had the big event of Peter and Tina’s wedding with 16 other family and friends taking out both Camps for 5 nights. The wedding itself was held at Fig Tree Pools on the Makhutsi River; a truly spectacular venue should anybody wish to try it. They had choir and dancers performing; so all in all a really spectacular day. Well done to all the staff for making it so special. Kehnsani (chef) had a huge smile on her face as she was chosen to be a witness with CJ. A warm welcome back to Yolanda, Roland and Hella, Martyn and Carolyn, and last but by no means least Juliette and Magali for 18 nights. Thank you both for the video footage which we will place on our “You Tube” (I know, we are really getting “with it”!). Facebook next!

Well we are now in winter mode with no more lunches, but replaced with a high tea. This is due to the game drives returning at about 1015 hrs for a late breakfast. The chefs have produced some amazing cakes, and delicious baguettes etc. Debby has come twice now to spruce up the chefs and their food and so her training has really been a winner with the Chefettes. Look out for next recipe. For dinners, as it is getting colder, coal braziers are going out, and a lot of hugging of the fireplace. On that note, I do try and alternate dinners by some being private, boma, or round table dinners with a variation of plated dinners, curry, and carvery. I don’t get it right all of the time, and so please do specify if you want private dinners.

What else? May is the month for the main Africa Travel Show held in Durban. Before attending that Classic Safari Camps of Africa has their AGM, where all owners get a chance to see each other again (normally only around this time when all together). 3 days AGM held at Robin Pope Safaris in the Luangwa valley in Zambia. What a beautiful setting and of course raucous great fun. Serious stuff also done – HONEST! The trade show – much the same, but always worth going to meeting your supporters from the trade and also some new openings. Also great fun to be at the sea!

The rest of the year is looking pretty quiet at the moment, and so in order to try and reverse that am offering an “early bird special” – “book before the end of July and if staying 4 nights then you only pay for 3 nights at both camps”. This is valid until 20th December 11. We still offer a “stay 5 pay 4″ throughout the year. Check it out with your favourite tour operator! Nope, I didn’t have to say that!

It’s great to touch base again with you; apologies for the delay but too much going on. Facebook, and that damn webcam; need to get it sorted urgently. Have a great summer if you’re in that part of the world. Great time to come here – crystal clear nights, fires, excellent food and wine, and of course those “cats!”

Keep well and all the best.

Bernie

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