June / July News

The Jubilee – this was precision at its best. What a grand lady she is, and looks like she can do another 10! A fantastic start to so much happening in the UK. The boats, the troops, the weather – how more British can it get!

Bradley Wiggins!! What a star to win the Tour De France AND the Olympic gold! Not a celebrity, as he points out that there are far too many “celebrities” who have done nothing to get their so called status; good man!

What a cracker of an opening ceremony to The Games despite the usual last minute hitches one gets before such a huge event. Well done Boris and Danny Boyle! What was incredible was that even the Met. Office ordered in the right weather for the night; they don’t normally get it right (drought this year with the worst rains to date!), but there you go.

It’s all sports then. Congrats to Jonathan Marray (yes that is correctly spelt); first Brit to win the doubles finals in Wimbledon for a centon, with his Danish partner Frederik Nielsen. The other similar sounding name who doesn’t like Brits, well……………….maybe another year. Jeremy Clarkson’s obituary on the final was so to the point!

"Many Thanks to Richard!"

Cricket; thrashed the Aussies and then in the true Aussie style really beckons South Africa to do the same to England, which they have done so far! Good sportsmen those Aussies!

Another bit of sports going on; it takes a thief to catch a thief; and so the politicians set up their own parliamentary enquiries to investigate the disgusting behaviour of certain banks fixing this and that. The polticos will be perfect for this as they know only too well how to be crooked! Of course it’s not your banker that you and I know, but those despicable hyenas behind the scenes. It’s very simple. Catch them, sentence them to 20 years in Jail, remove their trading licenses, and Bob’s your uncle.

Of course the polticos have also done the media as well for wire tapping, but very interesting to see a useless labour MP call Rupert Murdoch “unfit for purpose” – the hypocrisy of it all. Far rather have Rupert Murdoch than that MP any day.

Cameron – you’re losing it; get rid of that 2 i/c of yours; he’s got the smallest minority in history but controls what you want to do! Fix it, and let the majority rule (I believe it’s called democracy). As for your trip to Afghanistan to thanks the troops there, and then hand them out their retrenchment packages and put them on the dole; despicable and traitorous! Thanks God for the troops for saving the Olympics! However Harriet Harman telling the troops that they deserve a bonus like the bus and tube drivers (who basically held the country over a barrel and demanded 500.00 pounds each) is embarrassing from a supposed politician. The whole point is that the forces are NOT like the civil services; they are totally professionally, will have a quick snide and giggle at the expense of the “civvies” who couldn’t organise a P… up in Monastery and get on with the job! If only…..! Hopefully there will be no riots like last year as there are no police (olympics), no troops left; maybe get the Giles cartoon character of Grandma out and let her wield her brolly instead!

Euro getting worse, and Syria is just a tragic basket case!

Yes, I know, been away too long. Anyway I trust you are still awake.

Away from the loony bin, here down at sleepy hollow of Garonga it’s been great to welcome our first guests from India after such a long while! Many many congratulations to Jonathan and Nicola for tying the knot; a great day indeed. Thanks to a number of industry operators who came out to check us out! I hope we passed! A very warm welcome back to Sue, then Wolfgang, Ute and Soeren (8th time).

"Many Thanks to Richard!"

Spring is coming as I saw Jaffeth (head guide) wearing shorts the other day! Warmer to hot days but still cold mornings early on. The game viewing has been great with more leopard sightings now ; the ellies have been across a number of times to Garonga, which has not always been the case before during winter. Cheetah and rhinos have been much in evidence and the plains game in abundance. Walks are great at this time of the year; if you are coming, try them. The sleep outs as popular as ever; it is NOT cold up there, and the stars are spectacular.

Only one month left having those scrumptious high teas; the chocolate cheese cake; my God, I could munch that every day! The ladies in the kitchen have been producing some excellent nosh, even the fish and chips nights are popular; not to mention those traditional Sunday curry dinners, carvery roasts and the list goes on (that’s the sales pitch coming in having just done a sales trip). A recipe will follow; please do try this at home. Forget health and safety!

"Many Thanks to Richard!"
"Many Thanks to Richard!"

Microliting is also a great thing to do especially at this time of the year. A 20 minutes flip over the 60,000 acre reserve flying about 300m above the ground. Great fun and spectacular scenery. We give you a short intro, and then give you the keys.

On the marketing front, we are now doing a fantastic package with the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town; it’s a beautiful hotel in Constantia on its own wine farm. Check the package out on our website (www.garonga.com) fantastic add-ons, and a package of 9 nights where you only pay for 7 nights. This package finishes soon as it is only during the winter months, but will be repeated next year as well.

"Steenberg Hotel"

I was released in late June for a sales trip to UK which went extremely well. I was chaperoned around England by the ladies of Ethos Marketing (thanks Sue, Alison, Amanda and Claire for putting up with the grumpy old fart). Great to see so many supporters again who have really looked after us over the years; thanks so much to all for giving us your very precious time. I would also like to thank Julie from Country Club UK for allowing me to present to some key members (40+ turnout) at the club; A wine presentation given by SA Wines (Splendid start!), a presentation on the Steenberg and then my presentation and stories (It was THAT big!) to all. I even bumped into my Ex – CO there (I did not want to remind him about our (the platoon I was in) antics on the French commando course!), and his daughter Annabel who did a 3 month between jobs here some years ago; what a small world! Anyway beautiful countryside to drive around in with a SATNAV lady who, by the end of the trip, needed to be battered with a baseball bat; I don’t need reminding 4 times about when to take the turn off at a roundabout, and you know the UK is the king of roundabouts!

Now back in the grindstone. Both camps very busy indeed; still some small gaps in August, but September in Safari Camp – that’s a cracker! There is availability at Little Garonga for a number of days however, and before you know it, it is back to lunches, picnics, swimming et al!

Now back to more golds! Enjoy The Games. Keep Safe!

All the best

Bernie

April/May News

Now what makes an idiot try and out swim a rowing boat. Talking about the Oxford and Cambridge boat race. The best way to deal with these “d………..ds” who crave publicity and attention is to ignore them. He should have been left in the pond to make his own way back to dry land, and then be quietly knicked and lead away. It’s quite ironic that the media “complained” about how the attention was taken away from the race and landed on this aussie guy. WHO took the attention away? The ………………. media! Then of course the man involved says the race is elitist. Try telling that to crew who have been getting up at 5 in the winter’s morning and practising in their own time!

Now we have that terrorist Al Muqtda The Hook or whatever he wants to call himself languishing and making a mockery of British Justice and spending our hard earned dosh so that he can stay longer in the country he so despises. Ignore the European courts, and hand out our own Justice; send him to Jordan or wherever he has murdered before, and rot in a cell there. Bring back the British bill of human rights and stuff the European justice system which is full of unvoted judges whose pay packet would even make Wayne Rooney blink.

Greece – drachma please; who can trust them anyway. I bet there are many Europeans now wishing they had the mark, the franc, and so on. Even the guys who set it up say it wasn’t thought out properly. Start again.

Syria – The man “Basher” or something has obviously lost it; or maybe the crazed army have just taken control and ignore him, as surely nobody in their right minds would allow the disgusting images we see on a daily basis. What to do though? Russia can stop it overnight!

The UN want to name Mugabe as “Tourism’s lead Ambassador”! That sums up the UN!

Here in South Africa they have just sacked another top Cop for……….? 2nd one in a year; a pretty good record! Malema is out as we can breathe normally again as he used to gob off so much you could feel the oxygen being taken away from you by this “oxygen thief”.

Not being a footie fan, the last week of the premier league was full of fun, with the 2 Manchesters battling it out, and right down to the last minute it was undecided. Fergie – must have had a few whiskies that night to get over it. Now we have the Euro Championships; Spain V Germany Final.

Cricket going well for the team thrashing the Windies. Just the Rugby; can’t win them all.

"The Boys doing what they do Best!"
"Guide working, Tracker watching - How's that?? Josia and Patric!"

ENOUGH!

Congratulations to Markus and Marta, Dan and Lisa, Simon and Carla for tying the knot here at Garonga! And to those on Honeymoon; we hope to see you back on an anniversary! This time of the year we got a number of inspections from the Trade from Italy, SA, UK, and Germany. Andy from Africa In Focus brought in a group from Cape Town and great fun was had by all – if I can remember.

It has been a busy couple of months exceeding previous records which is fantastic. Now that we are well into winter, the fires in the evenings, and now the hot toddies, the electric blankets all make it very comfortable and fun. It has to be said that we are now purchasing a crane to hook to the guest’s ankles in the early morning to get them out of bed as it is pretty nippy first thing, and so “no mercy”. The sleep outs are a great success as this is the best time to do them, and it is much warmer than in the camp area – trust me…………I’m a catholic! The skies are incredible at night, a delicious hot meal, comfy bed with duvet and blankets, a toilet on the same deck; what more do you need?

Safari guides have been incredible and gives me much more confidence in saying that we are a “stand alone safari camp”. The sightings have been amazing; one morning they saw cheetah, lions and leopard in the same game drive. Another couple saw a leopard drinking from the Little Garonga fountain during their tea time. Unfortunately due to the high number of lions including the 18 lion coalition, we have had to reduce lion numbers by 7 as the wildebeest and other Snack game were just being dropped regularly. This makes it more even stevens on the reserve wildlife. The ellie bulls have been performing their normal tricks, ripping up water pipes dropping trees in the most inconvenient of places when there is SO MUCH space out there. The eland have been back which are always great to see. So well done guys, and now that most of them are qualified trails guides (no mean feat by the way) they can teach and show so much more.

On the feeding frenzy front the ladies have been cooking admirably, and those chocolate cheesecakes look simply delicious. Still cooking a lot of game meats and also adding more traditional winter fare such as casseroles, Pastry type steak and kidney, a fish and chips night which went down very well, but the special wines………………? Not doing well there as apparently the house wine is too good; so am off to Gravelotte to buy a cheapie!



"Typical Mum"

On the staff front congratulations to Zandile for the birth of her daughter. Angelique has left us to take up massaging on the cruises, so Tahnee has stepped in as relief therapist until we have a permanent one in August. I went to the Arabian Travel Market Show in Dubai (waste of time) and then on down to the annual show in Durban for the Indaba. Indaba has become over-expensive and completely lost its way; I wouldn’t be surprised if a competitor show started up and Indaba just dropped out.

June and July we have a fair bit of space left for those who want a quickie trip over; great time to come; warm to hot days and chilly nights but no bugs, rain or mozzies. We are about to put a package together with the “Steenberg Hotel” in Cape Town; it will be on the website very soon. It‘s so worth doing (9 nights between us and 2 of those nights free!).

Am off on my travels again to “Mud Island” for a sales trip and back in mid July. Wishing you all the best and hopefully see you here soon.

Keep well!
Bernie

March News

Despite being closed in March for our annual clean up and 5 year refurb, it was busy here with builders, tent repairs, interiors, tree fellers, the clean team steam cleaning, and all the game drives going in for their thorough annual check up. All of them have done an incredible job, and now the rooms are looking much better with a few subtle changes, and the main area looking great with some new furniture pieces etc. So the feel is still the same which was the whole point – NOT to change the feel and look too much. So thanks to Jonno and Keith from “Africa on Site” for the subtle changes and rebuilding here and there, and Trish and Ilona from “Lateral Designs” for their interior thinking; very happy; only the dining chairs to be changed which happens next month in May.

It was certainly “Murphy’s Law” that we had a huge storm the evening after all the new furniture was put in, and despite the blinds being down (but not hooked up!) the wind tore through the main area and left a number of pieces looking dishevelled; nothing serious though but quite heart stopping when I first arrived on the scene. One of the tent fly sheets tore off and so the tent guys had to return! And only a paltry 35 mm of rains.

So now it’s back to normality and full camps in Safari Camp and Little Garonga. A few nice touches to breakfast with fresh mint from the garden being available for those who like fresh mint tea, and also fresh ginger where you can cut some pieces and have with hot water – apparently very health and actually quite tasty.

The weather here has changed quite dramatically with fresh mornings and evenings now but hot days – a perfect combo. So do start bringing your autumnal clothing if you’re coming this way soon.

Flood Day
"Refurb - tent Deck"
Flood Day
"Refurb - Tent Bathroom"
Flood Day
"Refurb - Bed in Tent"

On the marketing front Garonga is offering a complimentary 3 night stay at the Hambleden Suite for a couple who win the “Stars Auction” in conjunction with “Help4heroes” golf day being held at Stoke Park on the 25th April 12 – go to www.heroescelebritygolf.com. Please support as much as you can!

And you thought you had got away with it – no chance! How can those idiots in government in UK put out such poor info regarding a looming petrol tankers strike panicking all to stockpile fuel; this was over a week ago now and there hasn’t even been a strike yet. God, where on earth did they get their brains from! God help us all in a crisis!

So Mitt the Mormon is the favourite to take on BO in November. I think BO will have a field day. Afghan seems to be going from bad to worse now with “an allied soldier” going nuts massacring 17 People; this is only just after the “Koran” was mistakenly burnt by the same allies! Not particularly helpful. Syria – well he’s just sticking his fingers up to all. Nothing will happen there.

In France, Sarkozy is playing the strong man ready to hit the elections running. Spain next then on the bail out list – that could be interesting. More pain for the Euro – how long can it go on? In Italy we miss the “bunga tales”. Silvio, go on TV or something and amuse us all.

Sports – England just holding on to No.1 spot but not playing well at all. Hopefully that will change as we can’t have South Africa overtaking now, can we! The Super 14 Rugby has kicked off, and so now rugby, rugby, and more rugby. Don’t forget in June England are over for 3 tests – just think; come and stay here at Garonga, watch the games at my pad on big (well biggish) screen, drink beer and more beer, have boerowors rolls with loads of onions, mustard and ketchup, get drunk, sing bawdy songs and celebrate England’s……………… win! Oh what a life, by the pool watching the four legged game walk by thinking what are those crazy people up to! God, what fun!

Flood Day
"Refurb - Main Area"
Flood Day
"Refurb - Fireplace"
Flood Day
"Refurb - Dining Area"
Flood Day
"Refurb - Nicole! Ha! No time to check the hair or anything!"
Flood Day
"Range Practice with the .500 double shortened barrel Nitro Express"
Flood Day
"Now that is going to hurt - lean in to it Lad!"
Flood Day
"The Hoods on Training!"
Flood Day
"Right - who

On the safari front it is with great pride and joy to announce that Jaff, Musa and Josia have all passed their “trails guides exams” with flying colours. This is a huge step for them in their careers, and so well done to them all. CJ – hopefully next month. Thanks indeed to Mark for the training and persevering, so now we have the majority of trails guides here on the Greater Makalali reserve; Makalali come on, catch up!

So all the staff are back now after their 3 weeks annual leave and raring to go. Uhmmmm! Bear in mind that in May we move to winter routine where Lunches are replaced by high teas, and sadly no picnic lunches until September. Game drives leave later and come back earlier morning and afternoon time; fires, white port, rose port and tawny port – what more do you need.

Happy Easter to all, and hopefully see you soon.

Keep well and all the best
Bernie

January / February News

What a difference a day makes – do you remember that song! Absolute disaster month was January; can you believe it! Swedish Scientists now declare that bacon is very bad for you!! That’s it then for the English Breakfast; even worse that’s it for Garonga’s signature dish “The Truckers Breakfast”. Right get the Invasion force ready (will only need a Company of “Rifles”) and go and swot those ignorant Scientists who have got nothing better to do. Time to get the uniform back on again. I should think the Danes may also join in as their bacon ain’t too shabby!

What a disaster is happening in Syria; the Russians and Chinese all think it’s perfectly OK to bomb, maim women and children. Hands are tied. General Bashir, whatever he calls himself, is obviously going for broke, and he won’t be given amnesty now; so its backs to the wall and wait to see what will happen there.

Now there’s Mitt and Newt battling it out – sounds like a cartoon movie. Wait for another Bush to spring a surprise and lets get George, no forget him, Jedd Bush to run for it. Stranger things may happen. I think BO will stay in for another term as the Opposition isn’t really clued up for it. I voted for the Tea lady (Tea party), but she’s been bagged. Ha!

In OZ they seem to be having a bit of a scrap between JG and Rudd who wants his job back; she beat him hands down. Even Ricky’s been left out of the team; what is happening!

The EU still throws money at that basket case of Greece; it’s going to default so stop pouring more money into that bottomless pit. Split the EU up; the strong ones remain in Euro, the rest go back to whatever. Short term pain for long term gain on both sides. UK, remain out of it.

UK seems to be quiet at the moment preparing for the Olympics, gearing up to close roads so all the Olympic Staff can flop out of their 5 star hotels and get a luxury carriage to the games. Should have given them a bicycle.

Down here in SA that glorified rabbit faced so called Youth Leaugue Leader still seems to be rabbiting on; I thought he was suspended ANC. Give him a traditional African car Crash; shouldn’t be difficult; all you have to do is put him in a taxi!

Sports – England thrashed by Pakistan in Cricket, then thrash them back in the ODI’s. Rugby is all gearing up now; 6 nations, super 14 Rugby, and now I understand England is playing SA in Rugby in June/July; what an excuse to come and visit here! I’ve got 2 x cases of Whiskey on the result; come and help me down them in celebration of winning. I can’t drink 24 Bottles on my own; I can try…

Flood Day
"Flood Day"

OK waffle over; phew, relief I hear you say! It has been a tragic time here for many Locals in the Hoedspruit area when we had the day of the floods; 17th January. Some recorded 800mm in the night! Rivers obviously flooded, roads washed away, camps closed or flooded out, and sadly many lost homes as well. It was only due to the heroics of the Air Force and their Choppers who literally got people off their roves. Tourists and Staff alike flown out of Camps that became cut off. Hoedspruit is still without clean water, but the authorities are rationing it out and people struggle on. Our hearts go out to all those who lost their homes! We had over 220 mm as it flooded over the rain gauge, so really don’t know exactly. It was almost to the day the year before that we experienced the same thing here (not in Hoedspruit). The river was swollen and so we couldn’t get in or out for up to 10 hours. The staff did a marvellous job of looking after the Guests whilst some of us couldn’t reach the camp until the river receeded. However the river went down and we were one of the very few lucky ones who carried on operating, and so we became inundated with Guests from other Camps or who were going to other camps. Great for us but left a bitter sour taste. We did therefore meet many Guests from all corners of the Globe who would never have heard of us. We thank them for their understanding and hope they had a great time here. Also with the rains came the stink bugs – my God, did we get invaded one night. Nothing could be done about it; it happens now and again. We are in the middle of Nature here which is what it is all about. Little Garonga was full and so we couldn’t use that.

Brother Nick trying his flying skills.
"Brother Nick trying his flying skills."
Brother Nick explaining to Taro, his son, HOW to Fly - AGAIN!
"Brother Nick explaining to Taro, his son, HOW to Fly - AGAIN!"

So down here at Garonga it was great to welcome back Peter who brought a group of friends with him. Great seeing you back and hopefully see you again. Many Congratulations to Mark and Michelle for tying the knot here, and to all those celebrating their honeymoon with us! On that note a special congrats to Bongane and Odie! Odie you provide a majical air charter service – thanks! Come back on an anniversary! Preferably not your 25th, as I won’t be around; be kicking up daisies somewhere. Thank-You to Andy from Africa in Focus (Our Rep company in SA) for bringing a group of Operators down here to experience the Garonga Flavour. A warm welcome back to Christine who bought her Mum along as well. Great to see you back. Finally to Taro (nephew) who managed to persuade the last of my Brothers to come out and visit with family. So after 15 years welcome Nick!

Hysterical MUSA
"Hysterical MUSA"
Reineth. Head Chef; works incredibly hard!
"Reineth. Head Chef; works incredibly hard!"

The Bushveld is obviously lush, green and thick, but despite that the Game Viewing has been superb with a couple of very interesting moments that was talked about for a long while! Well done Musa and Ruel, you performed admirably. I bet that’s got you thinking eh! Annoying isn’t it! The coalition of Lions (up to 20) is often seen on Garonga, and it really is amazing to see 3 different sets of Cubs at differing ages, plus the mums and plus the 2 Big Males – Impressive or what. Walks, sleep outs all proving popular as ever – 18 in the 2 months.

The Chefs have done admirably as ever and standing up to the challenges of suddenly having an extra 6 Guests at the last minute on quite a regular basis. Well done Ladies, and lets see what recipe you have this time!

Thanks Charlie and Kate and mentors Musa and Patric
"Thanks Charlie and Kate and mentors Musa and Patric"
Taken by Charlie and Kate
"Taken by Charlie and Kate"

Safari have been put through their paces studying to do the Trails Guide Exams, theory and Practical; this culminates in a Shooting exercise under immense pressure. Crossing fingers and toes, I hope 3 of them will have passed these extreme tests by the time we reopen in April. One has passed already. We will see.

Well, we are now about to close for March for our 5 year refurb plan and our usual cleaning and maintenance opening on April Fools Day – good time or what; well done Bernie! It is going to look superb; no significant changes, just touches; if anybody mentions that they don’t notice anything then tell that to my bank manager, but keep your distance. Joking apart it will look great.

So on that hysterical note cheers all; have a great march and hopefully see some of you down here again soon.

It is on a final note that I thank all our very precious Guests for voting for us on Trip Advisor; you have given us all a very special award of No1 in the world as best “Overall category”. It is only thanks to you, and I promise you the Staff are thrilled by this. It is indeed a very special honour! Thanks Folks!!!!

You look after yourselves and don’t forget “Care4casualties”. Look after 2 Rifles!

All the best
Bernie

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

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.

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

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.

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!

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.