December News

45 degrees Centigrade on Xmas Day and 30th Dec! Was so humid one could almost shower in your own sweat – nice thought I know! I’m sure you had a great Xmas and New Years Eve party; we certainly did – thanks Billy for the 0300 hrs finish on New Years night/Morning reminiscing and banging the world to rights. It’s fine; I know Billy of old (best Man at his wedding!). We had an all American cast on Xmas night; I think that is a first. Thank-You USA! Also a number of Family Groups coming over the festive time; from Mexico, Canada, Germany, Ireland. Really great fun!! So typical of the hospitality scene when the electrics stuff up in one Suite at Little Garonga on Xmas Eve; can you get an electrician? Can you heck! Some bridging was done to get some lights, but not Hot Water! The Lekkie (Electrician) does come out on the 27th December; so apologies to our 2 Guests who were upset by this situation, but unfortunately “Murphy” is always around, and as much as we try, there is only so much that can be done.

Fiscal Cliff – none of them are even trying up there on Capitol Hill! Egos so high as the Empire State Building. What a pleasant start to 2013. Thanks BO and those other ……………..Politicos. What on earth is happening out there in the US; School kids massacred by a complete Geek; then 2 firemen deliberately murdered by a Physcopath; then the whole debate of who is right or wrong; it does seem very odd that you can buy a weapon without little or no references, licenses or anything, yet to drive a car you have to have this, that and the other. Doesn’t make sense to me. The Israelis have the best system, and it is well regulated, and makes a lot of sense. However no excuse for Piers Morgan (brit Anchorman on CNN) to lose his cool and be so one-sided; I always thought a news Anchorman or Presenter should remain Impartial; not this odious Guy! He insults his Guests if they don’t listen to poor old Pier’s point of view! I saw one debate where he completely lost it. Now the Gun Lobby want him deported – good idea, not that I agree with their views.

"Thank-You Eion!"

Cameron and his “Notting Hill Set” think it more important to think about “Gay Marriage” etc, when the Country is in the worst mess for years. I thought it was the Church that decided on those sorts of things, not meddling Politicians? The Police incident with the MP at Downing Street seems to continue with new evidence etc coming to light. There can’t be a very pleasant feeling in Downing Street amongst the Police and these Notting Hill Kids, and I dare say there must have been a lot of ill-feeling going on well before this incident to kick off.

The sorry Saga of the Nurse committing suicide after an Aussie Radio Prank went so terribly wrong. Here in South Africa Zuma is re-elected at the ANC annual Conference ……just, but only after Ramaphosa is elected Vice-President; that’s a good move, so maybe next year in 2014 no more Zuma, and a New refreshing start with Ramaphosa?

A milestone in English Cricket with India being defeated in India; first time for centons! Excellent cricket Captain – Alistair Cook! Harry Rednap puts the top football players fraternity truly in their place by saying something we all think anyway; it’s the Team, NOT the Individual and much more.

"They keep us entertained - the warties!"

Down here in the not so Sunny Garonga we have had more good rains. What has been lacking is the Sun. The bush is lush and green, and we have had the Ellie Bulls frequently at the Camp waterhole always appearing almost on Q at Lunchtimes, or when Guests are checking in. It’s the Duracell batteries you see – Duracell lasts longer… apparently. Great sightings of Cheetah, and the Rhinos. The Lions are sometimes playing hard to get disappearing in to the Pidwa Block where the Guides cannot off-road. Beautiful Leopard sighting; one attached to this letter from Eion; thanks indeed Eion! Occasional walks still happening for those who want to exercise the Limbs. Sleep Outs have been a disappointment because of the Rains, but Guests are still plucky enough to try, even on Xmas day/night.

Many congratulations to Michael and Sandra, Andrew and Karen, and Holger and Rosalind for tying the knot here at Garonga!! It was a real pleasure hosting you on your very special day!

To the Chefs who work tirelessly in the Kitchen heat! I think it’s bad enough sometimes outside but then adding the Kitchen Heat, that’s quite something to be working in. A recipe will be attached as per normal. I was glued to Jamie Oliver’s Xmas cooking programme for tips etc; he had many, and they seemed to benefit.

"Invasion Force Alpha!"
"Josias Bar is now open"

2013 is looking promising, although January is pretty quiet; those of you who fancy a quickie, come over. We close 01 – 24 March 13 this year, so NOT the whole month, and Easter is much sooner this year anyway. We will be operating the Steenberg/Garonga Package again from March – September; it’s a great package; give it a crack, and then throughout the year a package with the fantastic Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa near Hazyview.

Last but by no means least, and how could I forget (It is definitely the Grey Cells), thanks Sue (Ethos Marketing UK) for stomping the streets through, wind, rain hail and ice, and a bit of sunshine thrown in selling Garonga to a very hard competitive Market. Your efforts and pains, and smiles reward us all so well!!

Right, lets get cracking for 2013.

Keep well and all the best
Bernie

October / November News

So BO is back in the WH and Mitt now takes a back seat. BO did handle the floods in NY pretty well and that must have certainly helped. As for that Plonker of a Mayor in NY cancelling the marathon at the last minute AFTER people had arrived is beyond understanding. It’s a no brainer – you get the storm, and you cancel – most people (reasonable people anyway) would quite understand. I hope he has a hefty wallet. Good luck to all the very stoic people of New York; they know and do it so well; pick themselves up and become even better than before. Here’s to you (actually a bit too early), later then!

Cameron and his bunch of ditherers are beyond help. It seems both Conservative and Labour just play to the whims of the People as to how they think; so forget principals, just play to the popular vote to get as many votes as you can. However the voters are not stupid, and if you don’t show your principals and what you stand for, then you deserve a good kicking in the goolies, which is what they need now. Look at UKIP; sure I don’t believe in everything they say but at least you know where you are with them. It’s quite simple; if we don’t get fair treatment from the EU and renegotiate our stance, then leave. Cameron move on. Liam Fox come back and lead the Party.

Hollande in France – a basket case; completely turned round from what he said he would do; what’s new! Who believes a politician anyway. The Arabs fighting amongst themselves – that’s a change! Uhmm. Always remember the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, at the end of the film when they are all squabbling and fighting amongst themselves. It’s a useless case; what can be done? As for Israel; they had no choice. Nobody would have put up with so much cak from Hamas which is ably supported by Iran. There’s a lot to be said to having Dictators control their Country after all the shenanagans going on in Egypt, Libya etc. Is the world a safer place now? This is said with Tongue in cheek before I get arrested by the “Thought Police”.

Here in SA, the Unions have quietened down a bit apart from one day when they blocked the Main Highway out of Joburg to the North protesting against the E toll system which looks like is going to be enforced next year and also spread to other Cities; so much for democracy when you just stamp over the people. Roll on the elections in 2014 – could be a nice surprise.

Rugby!! England v SA. Did not realise that captains are now going to be issued with calculators so they can add and subtract! Sure beating the All Blacks was an incredible achievement, but think if we had also beaten SA; that would have been a real winner beating the two top giants in Rugby.

Have I waffled enough! Most definitely. Back to reality. It’s been a bumper couple of months; it appears that South Africa is bouncing back. A very warm welcome back to Daniel and Michaela, Corne’ and Beate, Tim and Helen, Frank, Susanne, and Torquil and Marian (Good Luck with the wines – details are in the Curio Shop now). AND many congratulations to Ludwig and Anja, Luck and Cindy, Nigel and Jane, Warren and Jenna, Tim and Helen, and Karl and Terry for giving us the great priviledge of joining you together on the most special day of your Lives. Thanks also to George (MO), Louise (Photographer) and the staff for making their day so smooth.

"The One that got away!"

The rains have come! 145mm to date and the Bush is looking splendid! Impala and Wildebeest calves all jumping over the place and looking so fragile and vulnerable. The Game Viewing has been truly excellent, and the Guys pulling out the stops. Not going out all that much myself, I was very lucky to spot a Leopard under a bush 20m from my house as I was driving back one afternoon. The 2 Big male Lions have been over a few times, and the Ellies doing what they do best. Guests till doing walks in the mornings – very popular. Sleep Outs – some successes, but with the rains etc there have been a few tactical withdrawals in the middle of the night. Still so worth doing.

The Chefs have been doing a brilliant job as ever producing some really delicious dishes; for some reason the “health options” are proving very popular; difficult for me to understand when you have the “Truckers Breakfast” available. As always a recipe will follow and give it a whirl.

"Some call them Cute!"

On the Staff front Vanessa has very sadly left Garonga to live in Durban. A truly loyal, hard working, and great person who will be sadly missed. She had been with us for 8 years. Vanessa, good luck in what ever path you chose to travel. However we must move on and so Nicole (manageress) will now be taking over Reservations and Accounts, and Elizma joining us to take the position of Manageress. Good luck to both! Andy and his farm team working hard as ever fixing, growing the garden, and doing all the behind the scenes work which is not really noticeable up front. So much does go on behind the scenes to keep such an operation going. Evelyne has been kept very busy indeed with massages, and something noticeable, Facials proving very popular. Dinamosi (Tracker) had his work cut out when hosting one night, when one of the Guests decided to teach him the “Rumba dance” (no, Berlusconi was nowhere to be seen).

I have been in Mud Island again visiting The WTM Travel Show in that terrible place called Docklands. The show itself is great and very impressive in EXCEL, but when you go outside you could almost be in “The Clink”. Anyway once again managing to defeat Customs and bring back Cheeses; Vicherin, Stinking Bishop (Reineth, head Chef, always runs a bloody mile when she sees me return with this), and the inevitable Blue Stilton. This has now run out.

"Face your Front, Lad,and cover your arcs! Patric in pose mood"

Now it is that time of the year to wish all our Guests (previous and those coming) a very Merry Xmas and every success for 2013; apparently the Aztecs have other ideas however; we’ll see. Also to the Tour Operators from far and Wide who have supported us so nicely, a big Thank-You! Also to our Marketing Reps who patiently grind the walk and keep patient with us – The Ethos marketing Team in UK, Alison, Amanda, Claire, Kevin, and Cara; Roland and Hella ETC Marketing in Germany; and Andy, Beth, and Jann in the Africa In Focus Team in South Africa. Also a big thanks to Wild Web, Paul and his team who keep us in check regarding the web, Facebook and Twitter (Still trying to figure this out especially all the stuff that went on in the UK. We look forward to the year ahead whatever it may bring.

As always spare a big thought for the Troops In Afghanistan; we wish them every success in their task. We can all help by giving to “Help4Heroes”; a cause that keeps going from strength to strength! They look after us, we need to look after those who keep us safe! Cameron, stick to your word and keep to the Military Covenant!

Signing off another year in the African veldt! Keep safe and Go well!
Bernie

 

August / September News

TEAM GB! What more can be said. What a sterling, courageous, professional outcome for the whole team both Olympics and Paralympics (footballers take note; as if you care!). France cried because the bicycles were too technologically advanced for them, and we all know where that technology came from, don’t we – LA FRANCE! HA! Boney eat your heart out. Maybe the French should take up cricket. Anyway judging by the guests coming over from UK, it was just such a euphoric atmosphere; like the empire had been rebuilt – Rule Britannia and all that. Well, only another 100 years or so to repeat that performance; what a crescendo of a finishing concert; even the tube and bus drivers were polite! The military; I’d wager a bet that the WO & Sgt’s Mess watched the volleyball, The officers the horse events, and the JNCO’s and Rfm the remainder. Boris was a superstar and outshone that ridiculous PM, DC, who has lost the trust of most if not all.

Now we have a stinking toad of a politician who calls the police protection team at Downing Street (People who protect him) “Plebs” and “I’ll have your job”. The sheer arrogance stinks; he needs to go; send him to Afghanistan and do a decent day’s work there.

So In UK don’t wear a cross to work or you may offend…………………..WHO exactly! The PC police? stuff them; go ahead and be proud to wear it in a Christian country. Others wear their turbans, or their long ghostly dresses, so why not good honest decent Christians!

So, on the cricket front KP has done the unthinkable and betrayed his “mates” to the opposition; in fact this isn’t unusual for him, as he doesn’t have many friends in the English cricket dressing rooms; country or county. A one man band who plays excellent cricket doesn’t wash anymore. It’s called “teamwork” KP. We still lost the cricket anyway against South Africa.

Now down here in deepest Africa there was a huge problem in the mines; the platinum one to be precise. Weeks before there had been violence and intimidation even before “The Shooting”. No politicians, or senior police came out; it was left to the men on the ground. Basically a turf war was surfacing between two unions; one being pragmatic, the other offering such ridiculous hopes for their members that of course the members crossed sides. Anyway both Unions had no control whatsoever of the Miners. Two policemen and two security guards were hacked to death and their weapons stolen. Then to cut a long story short a mass of “people” armed with Spears, Knokopjies, machetes, and of course the weapons stolen from the police advanced on the police lines. Police had tried to restrain with Rubber Bullets and Tear gas to no avail, so when your lives are at risk from a Mad Mob you have only one answer left; which is what happened. Sure some were shot in the back turning away after the mass attack (not to be condoned), but what would you have done? The thing is that this should never have got to this stage; where were the politicians (cowering in their SUV’s and sumptuous homes in Houghton)? Where was the police top brass to support their members; same as above! Now the company has given in and handed them their demands and now, guess what – all the miners think that if you intimidate, kill etc they will give in to your demands. Anarchy in the workforce is where we are now in the mines, and now possibly the transport strike, where vehicles have been torched and one killed. The government needs to seriously get a grip or anarchy will reign. There are no longer negotiations; it is strike, and so on! Enough; I think you get the gist! So Africa is not for pussies (was told that many moons ago – it is not Sloane Street in London).

"New Look massage Sala"

Talking about pussies – Julian Assange has gone and run behind his mother’s skirt in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London pleading Immunity! Ecuador – Not exactly a bastion of free speech now! I suppose he can always get his food delivered by Harrods next door. Julian, old boy, be a man, and go and face the music in Sweden; don’t run behind those people’s skirts in the Embassy. After all I’d imagine a Swedish jail is a bit like a 3 star Hotel!

The heat is on now for the two sluggers in the USA – 4 weeks to go for the result. We all wait with baited breath – uhmmmm!

That was a bit of a long one – been a long hot day today; 40+ degrees. Now many many congratulations to David and Aline, Frank and Tanja, Brian and Denise, Andreas and Bettina, Gerard and Ann-Marie, Andy and Ulrike – for all tying the knot here at Garonga! We all wish you the very best for the future. Andreas and Bettina, you have set some very high standards as to what is expected post dinner celebrations! A very warm welcome back to Martin and Jane, Helen and Stuart, Barbara, Fabian and Laura.

"The Garonga Choir"

Most of the game Viewing has been exceptional; sure there were a few quiet days, but the safari chaps have really done some sterling work with leopard sightings, the cheetah, ellies , the lions (Although not as prolific as before – story later), and loads of general game. Walks have proven popular as it has been chilly still in the mornings. We have now moved in to summer routine; by now wake up is at 0515 hrs departing at 0545 hrs getting back for those infamous truckers breakfasts! The lions; unfortunately the Garonga pride (five of them) went through the fence to a neighbours cattle farm; I’m sure you can guess what happened. Anyway the farm manager there took a dislike to them all (despite being informed that assistance was on the way to take them off) and shot all five of them! Unfortunately the mentality beggars belief! This is indeed tragic, but also I suppose what can happen in fenced off reserves. My aim is to restore a Garonga pride again.

"Garonga Solo Tenor"

The veld has been looking great recently greened up by the first rains – about 40mm. Yes, folks it does rain in Africa in September, so if you just arrive with a swimming cozzie; well, the rest is history. The chilly mornings are still happening, but the days becoming much hotter as you’d imagine.

So, it’s no longer death by chocolate… cake for tea; we have switched back to doing lunches, and of course picnics up in the tree. The chefs are now back in the thick of it with lunches, picnics, sleep outs, weddings – all go for them, and how well they have preformed! AS normal a recipe will follow this letter.

"Sean, you were an inspiration to us all for your Courage and Fortitude!"

Sleep outs have proven very popular but I must admit we have had a case of 3 coming back in the same week. I think it was definitely a case of “It was THAT Big”. However we seem back to normality now and everybody thoroughly enjoying the experience.

On the staff front a very warm welcome to Eveleyne who has taken over the massages; welcome back to Zandile from maternity leave.

Both August and September have been very busy indeed, as will October and November. December – Xmas; can you bloody well believe it! I can’t. Surely Not! Off to UK in November for the WTM trade show in Docklands (EXCEL) London – what a pit of a place! Hope to see some of you there. Anyway a good chance to buy “Stinking Bishop” (Reineth the head chef loves it – NOT!), Vacherin, and the good old Stilton. Haven’t been caught yet returning with it.

Just to remind you, we have an excellent package with Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa, and also the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town (remember this for next year March – September 2013).

Enjoy the Autumn where you are as we will enjoy the Spring/Summer, swimming-pools, cold beer , braiis/bbq, and Rugby!

Look after yourselves and keep well.
Bernie

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.