Behind the Scenes at Garonga: Meet the Security Team

Meet Garonga’s Security Team – the men who watch over the camp, because lions don’t sleep at night.

This month we invite you to meet our Security Team, another essential ingredient in the Garonga operational cooking pot and one, without which, we would be left tossing and turning in our four poster beds. The phrase ‘unwanted guest’ takes on a whole new meaning at a safari camp after all!

These 4 chaps only come out at night (much like many of the predators they protect Garonga guests and staff from) but play a key role in the overall hospitality experience at Garonga. Their tasks include escorting guests between the common areas and the tents in the dark, general upkeep of some of the grounds but of course most importantly keeping watch for any intruders. They have in the past encountered elephant, lion, hyena and leopard in the camp and, as you can imagine, have many a story to tell.

Introducing the team:

  • Jazman: Head of Security

Jazman has been employed at Garonga for almost 10 years – since 2009. He started off as a General Security Guard and is now Head of the whole department which is no mean feat at all. Very well spoken, highly intelligent, and not afraid to speak his mind, Jazman is the ideal person to have in charge.

  • Lloyd: Security Guard
Security team at Garonga
Lloyd escorting guests

Lloyd enjoys driving guests to and from the local airports. Additionally, he is involved in routine night security patrols ensuring the safety of guests. A very personable fellow with a profound sense of humour, he has been employed at Garonga since 2014.

  • Thomas: Security Guard

Thomas’ main responsibility is assisting with luggage when guests arrive, and day to day security tasks. He has been with Garonga since 2008. A very pleasant and intelligent person, Thomas uses his initiative and is always willing to go the extra mile for guests.

  • Anold

Anold’s main task is night security during the ‘Quiet Hours’ between 10pm and 6am. He has, on many occasions, taken the initiative and sorted out problems for guests without having to involve management. On other occasions he has of course reported to management when he feels necessary even if to inform them of what has happened and what he has done about it,. Anold has been with Garonga since 2013.

Garonga’s Uninvited Guests:

As amazing as our team are at keeping guests and staff safe, this is the African bush, and occasionally the beautiful creatures that we so long to spot on our game drives, come to us. It’s at times like these that the security team’s real experience and professionalism shines through. Anold (night security guard) recalls escorting guests back to their rooms after dinner one evening and being greeted by two mock-charging elephants! On another occasion, a whole lion pride with cubs were found toddling down the main pathway of the lodge just before the guests came back from safari in the evening. Other special appearances have been made by hyena and leopard.

Imagine bumping into these guys on your way back from the Bush Boma…

We can’t thank the security team enough for what they do for us and our guests. Well done Jazman and the team for always being alert and aware, and especially for always going the extra mile for staff and guests. Without you Garonga wouldn’t be the peaceful ‘safari for the soul’ that it is.

Behind the Scenes at Garonga: Meet the Kitchen Team

Feeding your soul at Garonga Safari Camp is in the artful hands of our passionate and skilful kitchen staff. And they take your tummy’s satisfaction very seriously.

Over the next few months we are going to take you on a journey behind the scenes at Garonga Safari Camp. You will have insight into the love, passion and history behind all aspects of the lodge’s services which, of course, stem from its beautiful people as a foundation.

A focus on Food
Breakfast buffet at Garonga Safari Camp
The Breakfast Buffet

In January we start with a focus on our champion chefs and kitchen staff who not only guarantee that no one ever goes hungry at Garonga but also promise to bust your new year’s diet resolution in a flash. From the droewors (traditional South African dried meat) and spicy corn snacks served on your game drives paired with fabulous wines, to your high tea or potjie (South African stew) night in The Boma, everything is sprinkled with a generous dose of African spirit, energy and a smile. They are even kind enough to share with you their ‘not-so-secret’ recipe for their renowned Amarula Chocolate Cake (see below)…what a lovely bunch they are!

The Team
  • Reineth – Head Chef 

Reineth, (our ever faithful!) started at Garonga when we first opened in 1997. Over the years she has performed magnificently, and quite rightly was given the position of Head Chef 10 years ago. During our Closedown in 2016 for 3 months, she spent 3 weeks in a top hotel in Cape Town learning more tricks of the trade.

  • Venecia – Assistant Head Chef
Venecia at Garonga
Venecia at Garonga

Venecia has been at Garonga a few years now coming across from Makalali. She is a very capable stand-In when Reineth is away and a valuable assistant to her day to day.

  • Sylvia, Caroline and Phumzile – Sous Chefs 
Caroline at Garonga
Caroline at Garonga

Syvlvia and Caroline both previously worked in the scullery and over the years learnt cooking techniques by observing the other Chefs. Both are now very capable Sous Chefs. Phumzile started at Garonga about a year ago as a Breakfast Chef and she has progressed beautifully and is now more than capable of preparing dinners as well.

  • Paulinah – Scullery Manager
Paulinah at Garonga
Paulinah at Garonga

Paulinah (another ever faithful staff member) has been at Garonga almost 20 years and has overseen the scullery ever since she started. She also takes casual staff under her wing when they come in for short periods of time.

  • Lee-Ann – Trainer from the Culinary Guild

Lee-Ann started consulting in 2015. She comes up from Cape Town about 3 times per year for 10 days. She completely overhauled our food style and presentation when we reopened in June 2016 after our 3 months refurbishment. It has made a huge difference and the standard and quality of food and presentation has dramatically improved.

Each evening at Garonga takes on a theme, and we rotate between private and communal dining. We do also cater for all dietary requirements on request. You can see more about our daily offering in our previous blog ‘A Foodie Traveller’s Delight’.

The people behind the food, and of course the food itself, at Garonga is something we are exceptionally proud of. We would like to publicly thank our staff for the commitment and enthusiasm they show to not only delivering top quality food to our guests but also for their motivation to continually learn and develop themselves, meaning Garonga can also only grow bigger and better and, importantly, keep creating more delicious and unique cakes like this one…

Not-So-Secret Chocolate Amarula Cake
Afternoon Tea - Amarula Chocolate Cake Garonga Safari Camp
Afternoon Tea – Amarula Chocolate Cake

Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake:
(Separate mixture into two tins when baking. Use spring form cake tins, they are more user friendly)
120ml good quality cocoa powder
250ml boiling water
6 whole eggs
440ml caster sugar
120ml vegetable oil
500ml cake flour
20ml baking powder
4ml salt

Ingredients for the Amarula Syrup & Topping:
800ml granulated sugar
1000ml water
300 ml Amarula liqueur
4 tins caramel condense milk
800ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peak for topping
Flake chocolate

Method for the Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180 C
Sift the cocoa powder
Pour the boiling water the cocoa, stir to dissolve into the water and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs, caster sugar and oil together until ribbon stage and sugar is dissolved
Add the cooled cocoa mixture to the egg mixture
Sift the rest of the dry ingredients together and fold into cocoa / egg mixture
Divide the mixture into two 22 cm x 30 cm pans and bake for approximately 20 minute or until a skewer comes out clean

Method for the Amarula Syrup
Heat the granulated sugar and water together for about 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid has reduced slightly.
Remove the sugar mixture from the stove and whisk in the Amarula slowly until well combined.
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, while they are still hot, prick the cake with a skewer (all over – leave the cake in the tin)
Divide the syrup and pour an equal amount over both cakes while hot.
Place the cakes in the fridge to cool completely.

Method for the Topping:
Once cake has cooled completely in the tin, in the fridge, spread caramel on one of the cakes
Remove the other cake out of its tin and place the cake on top the caramel topped cake.
Spread whipped cream on top of the cake in the tin.
Place the cake back in the fridge to set for another 1 hour or until serving. (keep in the tin)
Just before serving sprinkle chocolate shavings on top and serve.


A Photographer’s Dream in More Ways Than One

An African safari is an obvious dream choice for a photographer. Those priceless wildlife moments and the breath-taking scenery framed by rich sunsets lure them in with a creative hunger like no other. But first they must get there, and in doing so they bring equipment…lots of equipment! Here we offer a solution for professionals and an opportunity for the novice. 

It’s fair to assume that baggage is every travelling photographer’s bug bear. Different lenses, camera bodies, support systems, lighting accessories and not mention those all-important super binoculars all must find a space in the suitcase. For professionals it’s a drag and for budding photographers, or those simply wanting to ‘give it a try’, it can all seem like a bit of a mission.

At Garonga we put the cherry on top of the photographer’s dream cake by launching a new photography rentals partnership with Africa Photographic Services which means you can now enjoy the convenience of renting your equipment Africa-side and even have the pleasure of it being delivered to your accommodation ready for your arrival. Luxury safari indeed!

Photography rentals at Garonga Safari Camp
A snap happy moment for safari goers

In case you needed more persuading, here are some top reasons you should choose to hire rather than lug!

Save money and try before you buy
Many of our guests see their Garonga safari as an opportunity to dabble in the art of photography. But there’s no point spending large sums of money on fancy equipment which might only see the light of day once per year so save the cash and put it towards your next trip instead. Hiring equipment gives you the chance to try before you buy. See how you get on with a professional range before splashing out.

Last minute planners
Some people have their whole trip planned months, or years, in advance but we know there are many people that leave some things to the last minute. This is also where we can step in and help you out by organising your equipment at short notice. Especially if you do pack your equipment and then realise while on the flight that you have forgotten that all important lens.

Ultimate convenience
Not only will you NOT have to carry heavy and awkwardly shaped equipment across the globe with you, but you even have the choice of collecting/dropping off at the airport or it being delivered ready for you in your accommodation. Additionally, you have the ease of our online shop to make your booking and we are there for any advice you might need about the kind of equipment you should go for based on your level of ability.

Photography rentals at Garonga Safari Camp
Those all important binoculars

Weather you are a photographer in the making, an experienced hand or even if once you get here you just fancy a go…we can assist you to make sure you get the most out of your African adventure without the headache…not to mention backache!

You can see more about our photography rental service here

A Foodie Traveller’s Delight

‘Food Travel’ or ‘Culinary Tourism’ is a thing (Wikipedia tells us so!) with food ranking highly alongside climate, accommodation and scenery as the most essential elements for tourists’ experiences.

Now we know that our fellow safari-lovers choose an African safari with the main aim of seeing African wildlife in their natural habitat but let’s be honest, after a long sweltering day in the bush, there’s nothing better than a delicious, indulgent, nutritious and satisfying meal to put the cherry on top and complete your day. If that meal is also unique, creative and well presented in a beautiful location then you’ve got a winning combination.

Garonga Safari Camp promises a ‘Safari for The Soul’ and the dining experience is a large part of that. We offer various Africa-pretty locations within the camp for you to dine from including intimate dining on your private deck, the more social Bush Boma experience and our favourite ‘The Bush Breakfast’. The menu we offer is focussed on freshness and taste and values the roots of classic dishes created with African influence and flair, using locally sourced ingredients.

Here we give you an overview of what your tummies can expect from sunrise to sunset, at Garonga.

Early Morning Coffee and Tea: To get you going before your early morning game drive, we offer homemade rusks and biscuits alongside your morning cup of Joe, with fresh fruit available too.

Breakfast: The breakfast buffet includes Greek yogurt with home-made fruit coulis (which changes daily) and you can ‘build your own’ muesli with a variety of seeds, grains and berries to choose from. Order a smoothie from the kitchen, which are available on request or indulge into individually portioned fresh fruit salads.

Breakfast Tray at Garonga Safari Camp
Breakfast Treats

A platter of cold meats and cheeses are available as part of the buffet too. The hot breakfast is made to order and guests have a choice between a full English breakfast or eggs benedict served in an iron pan or one of our copper/silver dishes.

The Bush Breakfast is a unique way to enjoy your most important meal of the day. Set outside, in the wilderness, you can choose from a varied buffet including hot and cold options. You’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the bush-veld and may even have some unexpected wildlife join you for the meal.

Lunch: Back at camp, you can build your own salad from a selection of fresh ingredients or choose our prepared salad of the day. You can also add the protein of the day such as roasted chicken pieces, char grilled beef kebabs or lamb cutlets with a piquant fresh herb salsa. Accompanying this there is a selection of homemade breads and a cheese board with preserves and nuts for guests to help themselves to.

Cheeseboard at Garonga Safari Camp
The Cheeseboard Selction

Afternoon Tea: Always feels like a treat and a good way to keep your sugar levels up through the day. This includes bite sized loveliness of both the sweet and savory variety.

Afternoon Tea - Amarula Chocolate Cake Garonga Safari Camp
Afternoon Tea – Amarula Chocolate Cake

Game Drive Snacks: Served straight out of the safari vehicle this little pick me up is very welcome when out scouting wildlife in the bush. Served in glass jars on a wooden chopping board for guests to hep themselves meze-style, this includes savory crackers, biltong or droewors, salted roasted nuts or spicy corn, marinated olives and crudité. Plus wine….of course!

Dinner: Our Bush Boma sets the scene for an interactive and social dinner between guests, staff, guides and chefs. Fridays are probably our favorite at the Boma as we offer pizza, fresh from the oven, as a starter around the Boma Bar, combined with a classic potjie choice for main course.

Every night is a different dining experience alternating between private dining, a communal setting around one large table in the main area under the stars, and of course the Boma.

On Tuesdays we offer a tasty and indulgent BBQ, Thursdays is ‘Meat Night’ served on traditional wooden boards and on Sundays you will smell the spices drifting across the camp from our curry night. Importantly though, should you have any specific dietary requirements we are always willing and able to cater for all.

If you are seeking wildlife we have it, including ‘The Big Five’ and so much more. If you want to add that ‘icing to your safari cake’ (and yes, there is also cake!) then we invite you to come and enjoy that little bit extra with us at Garonga. Foodie travellers will not be disappointed, and nobody goes hungry, ever!

A Bush Wedding & Honeymoon Combo

Weddings don’t have to follow the traditional herd anymore. Adventurous love-birds rejoice!

Engaged couples these days tend to look beyond the ordinary and destination weddings (bush weddings in particular) are a great choice. They combine culture, adventure and often very pleasant climates – enabling the bride to wear whatever dress her heart desires, and the groom to reject that uptight suit and embrace more comfy and fitting attire to suit the scene too. Guaranteed picture-perfect wedding moments are part of the destination wedding allure.

Fabulous wedding destinations are also usually equally-fabulous honeymoon destinations…and so is born the ‘wedding and honeymoon combo’. A bush wedding in Africa offers this very opportunity and Garonga Safari Camp was privileged to recently host the wedding of Adam and Ruth Gooding.

Ruth & Adam's Bush Wedding at Garonga Safari Camp
Ruth & Adam marry at Garonga Safari Camp

Here we give some top reasons why the honeymoon/wedding combo is a winner and Ruth kindly gives feedback on their experience with us.

Five Reasons to Combine Your Wedding and Honeymoon…

  • No busy itineraries

No need to pack bags, rush off to the airport and leave the party behind (that’s just not fair anyway seeing as it is your party!) Your honeymoon begins from the moment your wedding day ends so you can ease into married life at leisure.

  • Best of both worlds – privacy and company

Having your friends and family right there on your honeymoon with you can be a draw card or quite the opposite depending on what you are seeking but quality and experienced venues will be able to ensure you still get that seclusion and privacy. For example, at Garonga we can arrange private dining, private game drives, exclusive accommodation as well as experiences like The Sleep Out and Bush Bath to make sure you still have that all important private honeymoon feel. And for the socialites amongst you, having your nearest and dearest with you just adds to the ongoing paaaarty!

Ruth & Adam marry at Garonga Safari Camp
Ruth & Adam marry at Garonga Safari Camp
  • Less stress and expense

Planning a wedding and honeymoon can be stressful but when you combine the two you are generally dealing with one venue and often one specific contact at that venue. The less people interfering the better (mothers-in-laws included) and the simpler and more enjoyable the experience will be. Destination wedding venues also sometimes offer cost effective packages with thrown in perks. At Garonga, included in the wedding package is a cake, bouquet, massage for both bride and groom, a private dinner for the married couple and even ceremony/vehicle décor. You can see more on our weddings page.

  • Bucket List Tick

Choosing a destination wedding and honeymoon venue, such as a bush wedding, is also a way of (or maybe excuse for?!) being able to tick off one of those key locations you’ve longed to visit and its highly likely it will be on your guests’ lists too.

  • The ultimate setting and photos

Honeymoon destinations lend themselves to wedding settings with romance and beauty at the forefront of everyone’s minds. And you don’t have to leave your guests for hours just to get those picture postcard wedding photos.

Ruth & Adam marry at Garonga Safari Camp
Ruth & Adam marry at Garonga Safari Camp

Ruth & Adam’s Bush Wedding & Honeymoon…

This couple from Scotland had their hearts set on a bush wedding in South Africa and booked the venue and accommodation (The Hambleden Suite) two and a half years in advance. The countdown then begun to their big day.

“We booked the Hambledon Suite as it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip and it was everything we could have hoped for and more. From the spectacular view from our own private deck and pool, to the luxury copper bath where I have very fond memories of relaxing on the morning of our wedding day taking in the view and the peace and tranquillity – not many brides can say they spent the morning relaxing. It was exactly how I hoped it would be.

The Hambleden Suite at Little Garonga
The Hambleden Suite at Little Garonga

We were lucky enough to stay for 8 days for our wedding and honeymoon.

Upon arrival it was much more than we could ever have expected. The day I had dreamed of was here and we were completely blown away. We were made to feel welcome from the second we arrived which in turn made it all the harder to leave when our time was done.

I say it was a once in a lifetime trip, however, that certainly won’t be the case as something keeps calling me back and I fell more in love with Garonga than I could ever have imagined and cannot wait to return. We now have a 2-year-old daughter and just as soon as she is old enough to stay we will be booking our next trip out. Not a day goes by that Garonga isn’t on my mind and that’s testament to just how amazing this place is.”

You can read more about Ruth and Adam’s day on their wedding blog.

Photography thanks to Jeannie C Photography

Giraffes – The Dark Side that May Surprise You

The gentle giants of the bush, giraffes are not always as graceful and docile as they first appear. They have a dark and brooding side too. We look at some fascinating giraffe facts that may surprise you.

Poised, elegant and peaceful. These are all words we would most commonly use to describe the giraffe as it saunters effortlessly across the plains, munching innocently on leaves. It’s such a spectacular and majestic animal and certainly iconic when it comes to African wildlife. However, don’t be fooled by this angelic appearance. A giraffe endures an abrupt entrance into the world, consisting of a long drop of an average of 6ft to the ground and a heavy smack to the head! Who wouldn’t have a grumpy side after this rude awakening? After this, they are well prepared for anything life throws at them next.

giraffe mother and calf

‘Necking’ (of the romantic kind) is an adorably common occurrence in giraffe courting. However, it also refers to the action taken when a pair of male giraffes wrestle it out using their necks to fight. Yes, this show of bravado is all in an attempt to woo the ladies. They swing their necks from side to side to head-butt their opponent hoping to win themselves a mate. The sound of this spectacle can be heard 100metres away and often results in broken jaws and sometimes even broken necks or an unconscious contestant! Not so graceful and elegant any more right?

If you don’t believe us, check out this collection of clips of giraffe battles in the wild. It will change your perception of giraffes for life and you will certainly think twice about challenging one to a dual.

Here are a few other interesting facts about giraffes:

• A loooooong, moody pregnancy: A giraffe’s gestation period is a whopping 15 months. That is well within the top 12 animals with the longest baking time and they certainly need it to ensure the calves are strong enough for that long drop.

• Early achiever: After their dramatic entrance into the world (the drop which surprisingly does not hurt the calf but rather encourages them to take their first breath) it takes them an average of only 1 hour to walk and 10 hours to run. How is that for reaching milestones early!

Recently during a morning game drive with guests, we witnessed a giraffe birth and managed to capture the first precious moments of the calf’s life – post-drop! No pain meds, no hospitals and doctors were present. In the wild, it’s just mom on her own. “It was an unforgettable moment,” said one of the guests immediately after we quietly drove off.

• Giraffe Day-care: Young giraffes hang out in nursery groups until they are around 5 months old, resting and playing together while their mothers forage in the distance. One female will tend to stay and look after the young. So civilised!

Giraffe Day-care

• A Tower of Giraffes: The collective noun for a group of giraffes – and so apt it is too.

No need to drink: If fresh green food is available they do not need water.

• Surprisingly fast: They can gallop at up to 60kph, which OK, isn’t a patch on its predators but is impressive none the less.

• Yes they are tall! They are the tallest mammal in the world (average 16-20ft) with their legs often being taller than most humans at an average of 6ft alone.

So…tough, rough and ready to fight. These are all new phrases for you to describe these ‘dark horses’ of the savanna. But let’s be honest, there still is (and always will be) something soft, fluffy and a little bit goofy about them and there’s nothing like a giraffe calf trying to find its feet to warm the heart…aww!

giraffe calf

The ‘Guest from Hell’ Reviews Garonga

You know that segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live when celebrities willingly read aloud some of the ‘mean tweets’ that are written about them?

It made us think. The internet is both a wonderful and horrible place. It’s the go-to place for people to share their love and also their hate.

Insert TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor is an open journal for travellers. It’s probably the greatest form of user generated content there is, which is why we love it so much. It’s a place where our guests have their say. Even when that can be scary (mean tweets) or great (appraisal and awards), we encourage every Garonga guest to write a review about their stay with us.

Recently, we came across one TripAdvisor review in particular that took us on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Here it is, along with the wild thoughts in our head as we read it for the very first time.

(Disclaimer: to be read with a sense of humour)

The Review of a Lifetime… 

I must explain before I review this place that I am the customer from hell and can find fault in EVERYWHERE I STAY!

[Garonga: Oh no. This could take a bad turn…]

I did not want to go on safari and stay in a tent and this was not my idea of a relaxing holiday, until I found Garonga and Little Garonga!

[Garonga: Phew (smiles and giggles)!!!]

I am now converted. I could not fault this place, it is AMAZING. I am totally converted and LOVED every minute, no every second, of this holiday.

[Garonga: CONVERSION. Day is made.]

ALL of the staff are wonderful, thank you so much CJ, Richard, Phineus, Josiah, Loderick, Charlotte, Bernie and the lovely chef who made me mash potato because I am a fussy eater!

[Garonga: Mmm…mashed potatoes. Best comfort food ever!]

You are an example of how to do a job properly. This is hospitality at its best. Anyone who can find fault in this place, shame on you! If you don’t appreciate this lodge then don’t go on safari because it is not for you and perhaps you need to return to Benidorm where you can stay in a nice 3-star hotel!

[Garonga: Haha! So honest and full of personality. We must share this one with the Garonga fam.]

Thank you, guys. From not wanting to embrace a safari holiday, thanks to you I am totally hooked. You have given me memories to last me a lifetime (Julie’s corner!). I can’t wait to come back and see my elephant Lisette.

[Garonga: The customer from hell? No way! Little Lisette won’t go anywhere.]

Keep doing what you do, you are incredible! X

[Garonga: Guests like yourself make this job the best one in the world.]

Garonga TripAdvisor Review

Did you know….

  • We read every TripAdvisor review that you write. So far, we’ve read a total of 364 reviews.
  • We strive to reply to every single review. We know writing a review takes time and time is precious so we are grateful for the time spent giving us honest feedback.
  • Your review doesn’t only help us to improve our safari experience but future travellers who are researching where to go for their African safari of a lifetime.
  • You are clever! The tips and pointers you give to future guests are so…well…helpful. So valuable in fact that we share them on our Facebook page from time to time.
  • We were named a TripAdvisor 2017 Travellers’ Choice Award Winner in the top 25 Small Hotels in South Africa. Based on reviews and opinions from millions of travellers, Garonga is in the top 1% of hotels – all thanks to YOU!
  • If you’ve stayed with us before and haven’t wrote a review yet, why don’t you? We’d love to be defined by your opinion. Stop by our TripAdivsor page.

Being a Safari Guide: 8 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

“As a guide, you’re the first person the guests hear from in the morning and the last person they see in the evening.”

Being a safari guide doesn’t follow the typical 9 to 5 schedule. By the time you arrive at your office in the morning, they’ve already returned the guests back to camp from a 3-hour game drive. While it seems like a wonderful and romantic job, with sunrises and sunsets and lions and elephants all around you, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes. Repairing flat tyres, managing guest expectations and warding off snake and baboon intruders are a few of them.

Being a safari guide: behind the scenes

Are you wondering what it’s really like to be a safari guide? Here are 8 behind the scene secrets about the realities of life in the bush.

1. People skills are most important.

The biggest part of being a guide is working with people. You can have a wealth of wilderness knowledge, but if you bore your guest to tears, it won’t take you very far. As a guide, it is your responsibility to enhance the experience for people when they go on safaris. It starts with learning the names of your guests.

2. It can take over a decade for a safari guide to reach the top qualification.

The learning never stops. The only way to progress in the field is by obtaining the qualifications that are set by the Field Guides Associations of South Africa. Reaching the top qualification can take up to 15 years of studying and practical work experience.

Each year at Garonga, Adriann Louw conducts an intensive Track and Trails guiding course with the guides and trackers over 5 days. It may seem like a short while, but the transformation that takes place is overwhelming. This year head guide, Jaffet, maintained his Tracker Level 4 (senior status) but with even better results. He mentored the remainder of the team who also achieved excellent qualifications.

Being a safari guide: behind the scenes

3. Patience is a non-negotiable.

If there is a characteristic a safari guide must have, it is patience. Patience with animals and patience with people.

4. The all-khaki dress code is sort of a lie.

Truth be told, most animals see in black and white. So, you don’t have to wear khaki from head to toe on your next safari but it may be one of those fun things to do! Having said that, keep the lumo, reflective outfits for your time in camp instead of sporting them on a game drive. Many birds and some creatures are sensitive to colour and may see you as suspicious instead of one with their environment when they spot you out in their wilderness.

5. Guests’ excitement can be contagious.

The beauty of being a safari guide is the ability to see the bush through the guests’ eyes. There’s a specific sparkle about it. The smiles, questions and enthusiastic reactions are constant reminders to never get too complacent. So future guests, remember that your excitement is infectious to those around you, especially to the ones in the driver and tracker seat!

6. Being mechanically savvy comes in handy.

There will be plenty of flat tyres and the lazy lions who enjoy 20 hours of sleep a day certainly won’t offer their help. If your vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you have to know how to fix it or you risk getting stuck.

7. Early morning and late nights are part of the job.

Safaris run on a specific schedule for a reason and it is the guide’s job to make sure the guests are ready on time. They will wake you up in morning for the first game drive of the day and often stay up to wish you a good night’s sleep after dinner. They are not just guides, but caring hosts that look after every aspect of your stay.

8. They are great mixologists.

When the sun sets, this is when your guide gets to really show of their skills. First, they will stop the vehicle at one of the most scenic spots in the reserve. Just when you think the moment can’t get any better, they’ll offer you an ice-cold beer, glass of wine or a classic G&T as you watch the egg-yolk sunset disappear behind the horizon.

being a safari guide: behind the scenes

Garonga Turns 20! Our Celebration in Photos

Birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons and weddings – you name the special occasion and we will turn heaven and earth to make it a memorable celebration for our guests. No request is too big or too far-fetched because we’re only offered one lifetime to embrace the good stuff.

So, on the 1st of June when Garonga turned 20 years old, we took it upon ourselves to practice what we preach and throw a big party for the Garonga staff members. That afternoon, we cleared Little Garonga and the boma area and celebrated the best way we knew how; with lots of food, drink and laughter, much like our past guests will fondly remember.

It was the happiest of Thursdays and a joyous way to commemorate our achievements over the years with the entire Garonga family.

Here, we share our 20th anniversary celebration in photos. We hope you raise a glass as you scroll through them!

Cheers to the next 20 years of Garonga magic.

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga's 20th anniversary

Garonga turns 20

Baby Animal Moments That Will Make You Go ‘Aww’

Adorable, fluffy, clumsy, playful and affectionate. You bet we’re describing the safari babies of the bush. Recent guest, Kelly, visited during the summer season when nature welcomed the little ones into the world of wildlife. She shares all of the precious moments with us.

Warning: Goosebumps, awws and warm, fuzzy feelings ahead!

“Garonga and its Makalali bush setting stole my heart during the 3 days we called it home.

Our visit was in mid-March, being South Africa’s summertime and because of the good recent rains the wilderness was alive and wearing its green summer leaves in all their glory.

It was magnificent to see it so lush, dense and beautiful. The abundance of food and water around made for very happy animals too and because of that we were treated to so many sightings, especially encounters with baby animals too.

It’s always special to watch the interaction of young wildlife in their family groups and the cute factor was on overload at Garonga during our game drives. We saw baby warthogs following their mom’s raised tail through the grass and toddler monkeys playing in the trees and on the tent decks. The most endearing moment witnessed was of a baby giraffe giving his mom a kiss on the side of the road.

baby animal moments on safari

However, the most unique sighting we were spoilt to was of a young male cheetah calling (or more like tweeting) for his mom to come back from the hunt and reunite with him. She returned his call and they found each other in the bushes as we watched on in awe. Then they proceeded to relax together and enjoy a well-deserved mid-morning nap.”

We also can’t forget about the handful of hyena cubs that gave mum a serious run for her money in the hot summer heat.

baby animals on safari

Garonga is certainly wonderful in any season, but it’s hard to beat the cutest season of all – baby season in the bush!