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.

June, July Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep well and all the best.

Bernie

Summer Routine (September to April)

The Sala. Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology

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

0545: Wake Up

00615 – 0945: Safari

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

1400 – 1500: Lunch

1615 – 1630: Tea

1630 – 1900: Safari

1945: Drinks and Dinner

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

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

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

Sleep Outs: On Request.

Star  Bath: On Request.

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

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

Swimming-Pool: It is not heated.

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

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

May Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Navy Video… Hilarious!

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

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

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

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

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

Keep well and all the best.

Bernie

January February News

What a disastrous start to the year. Almost like someone up there giving us a warning saying “just remember I’m here and things can change at the flick of a button”. Chaotic and dreadful scenes in Australia, South America, and now New Zealand. What can you do!

Now the Arabs are revolting. Could be very interesting as to how it all pans out, but also interesting to see how quick the Yanks dumped Mubarak; their greatest ally in the area. Gaddafi – well he’s lost a few marbles anyway, and so no loss there. The rest of them I suppose are warming up their Gulf streams as we speak. Probably bump into them at the Connaught for a Bloody Mary or three in London!

Sport: England didn’t want to drub the Aussies too much and so gave them a consolation prize of winning the 50 over series in cricket after their humiliating defeat in the Ashes. Now it’s all to play for in the cricket world cup although somehow it sort of pales into insignificance after the Ashes series. Before anyone says it – Ireland, we let you!! It’s to smooth you over for the Queen’s visit this year; that’s all! Rugby – 6 nations already started and looking promising. Football – still paid far too much!

Down here we’ve had our moments. In January great to welcome Jenny back. Many congratulations to Patrick and Veronica for their wedding here at Garonga. It didn’t go exactly to plan as we had a torrent of rain the day before and the river was in full torrent with all the crossing impassable; so it was plan b in Little Garonga main area which we turned into a mini chapel with candles and all. It was a great day especially as they had all family there taking out the whole camp. Then a warm welcome for the first time to Inspect us was Michael, Kevin from Ethos marketing (At last Kevin; you’ve been set free!), and last but no means least Brigitte from Dertours and Lehandra from Welcome Tours. In February we wish Mark and Alison, and Russell and Clara all the very best in their futures together and thanks for choosing Garonga for your very special day. Also great fun as family also shared the special day with them. Makes a big difference. Also a very warm welcome back to Brian and Gail who came back after a few years and stayed for 4 nights and then went back to UK; great to see you both again! Also Christine – no nasty people this time at dinner! Will always remember that last time!

Winner being presented with the Classic safari Camps of Africa Book

South Africa was hit by floods but nothing in comparison to the others above. We had over 180mm in one night (the rain gauges overflowed and so no real accurate reading). Hence to say the drainage lines etc all became impassable torrent of water. We couldn’t reach the camp for 10 hours; It was quite amazing – never seen it as bad as that since the 2000 floods. It kept on raining. But at least the rivers subsided. As Zele kindly pointed out to me (In the way she does) that this always happens when I am away, and it just so happens that I was going away that day for a weeks leave! Guests missed their connections but we laid on transport that afternoon to get them out to Johannesburg just in case we got caught again. I must say here that some guests are not very obliging here, and when asked to pay for additional transfers refused. Not quite sure here. Travel Insurance covers this, and not much else we can do. Some people suddenly turn very strange. Please do check with your Travel Companies regarding this sort of eventuality as it is bound to occur more often now. Those who refused to pay – well, you obviously need it more than I do and… don’t come back!

School Kids departing after their day learning about Conservation and The Tourism Industry.

As you can imagine the bush is very thick but the guys are getting there with the sightings. What has been a problem have been the 2 young male lions (brothers) and female who have been getting out of the reserve on a number of occasions due to the big bad boy of the reserve hunting them. It was great to experience Ross (the game warden) recapture these guys (3 of them) at night. (They had walked 18 kms into a completely different reserve!) I went along with him. One of them was across another side of the fence so he had to crawl underneath the electric fence and with assistance from a student drag the lion back (after it had been darted of course). The other two had already been darted by the vet and were on the back of the vehicle already. So eventually I drove back with Ross with 3 sedated lions on the back of the cruiser along a normal public road. We both chuckled at the thought of someone wanting to hitch a lift along the way, and would have said “sure, mate, jump in the back!” Ha! That didn’t happen. Anyway lions recaptured and are now POW’s in the boma! Will be trying to change them with some other males.

Lights out. Jump aboard mate.

The ellies have been busy as ever and the bulls just knocking those trees down. Sleep outs, walks etc have still proven very popular even with the changeable weather. Just in January alone we had 317mm of rains. To date for this season 509 mm. So over the average now and they still reckon (THEY? I don’t know who) more to come. Last year in April we had over 200mm! So let’s wait and see.

As we always do in January we invited a whole load of school kids over for a day to learn about conservation and tourism. They were split into 5 groups and each group had a member of staff whether it be a waiter, chef, housekeeper, safari guide etc. 20 minutes round robin, a BBQ lunch and then a 3 hour game drive. The competition prize being awarded at the end. It was a great fun day and all the staff performed magnificently. Some real Hollywood actors amongst our lot. Must look into that!

Staff movement always around this time! Farewell to Zele who was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity in New Zealand. We wish her all the best. Then to Denille (therapist) who returned to Johannesburg, and finally to Obie (tracker) who “disappeared”. Wherever you are Obie drop us a line! So on that note welcome to Nicole who has taken over as manageress (last place she was in Islandwana in the KZN battlefields area), and to Geraldine as therapist after 2 years on the boats. Two trackers will be joining us very soon; Ruel and Patrick to join Rebel who’s feeling a bit left out!

We are now in the first week of the closedown, cleaning, dusting, sealing, varnishing, painting, repairing and so on. Reopen on the 24th March. Plenty of space available and for April as well.

Finally the winner of the photo competition for 2010 is Amanda Jennings. Four nights complimentary at the Hambleden Suite (excepting 20 Dec – 10 Jan). Available from now until end of February 12. If you don’t think you can take it let me know and I’ll sort out a very nice dinner for 2 with voucher. Many congratulations Amanda. Please RSVP before June 11 in order to qualify for the prize, otherwise I will ask the judge to reselect. Many thanks to all those who took part, and we will continue this for 2011. Keep those pictures coming. Not pleasant to finish on a sad note, but our commiserations go out to Judith and family for the tragic loss of Roger Diski. A very well-known, kind and respected figure in the tourism Industry in UK who had a passion for the future of South Africa and Africa in general.

Keep safe and well out there.

Bernie

PS: That B….y webcam will be sorted soon. Sledgehammer on its way!

November and December News

Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust! Right, my Antipodean friends lets just keep them at Lords; it makes it much simpler. What a Xmas cracker! Can’t talk about anything else; it just frails into insignificance!

Of course I hope you all had a great Xmas and really stuffed yourselves with Turkey, stuffing, and of course the famous Bread Sauce!

Now this very strange Guy, Mr. Wikileaks, an unfortunate name considering the stories coming from the two Swedish ladies involved! No names, no pack drill! He seems to have a sort of sect that idolises him and what he does, and the lefties praise him for “Freedom of Speech” or “freedom to write things that may get Americans or Brits and Allies killed”. Strange breed, as normally they rush to the arms of Women who have been “Abused”; not so in this case it seems. Anyway let’s see what happens. I’m sure a car accident or something might suffice.

Now, sackings for 2010: The BAA Chappie who said he had enough staff to keep Heathrow opened, and then kept passengers imprisoned in the Airport for days with little provisions or care to their comfort. In fact, that’s a prison case. Give the airports back to the Government to organise not some foreign company that doesn’t care! Then there’s the Guy who runs N.Ireland Water. Can’t think of anybody else at present but any ideas? Yes, one more – Sed Dinosaur Blacker or whatever his name is. That fool in charge of that corrupt organisation called FIFA!

Down here in SA we had the usual soccer results: Limpopo 245, KZN 337, Eastern Cape 426, and so on. That’s how these traffic accidents/deaths are announced over the radio during the Xmas break.

Herfric - The Buffalo of Little Garonga!

Well, what happened down here. Over the new year the power cable went after water seemed to have seeped into a crack; so only generator power which cannot run 24/7. LUCKILY an electrical company decided to not go on Xmas leave as strangely enough these things do also happen over Xmas and New Year. They managed to come out having just finished another farm with the same problem. It does take a few days to locate where the “break” in the cable is and then it has to be fixed. So after 3 nights of this it was finally sorted. It was also burning hot over this time. Our occupancy for Safari Camp was 43% and Little Garonga 20%. For the year Safari Camp 53% and Little Garonga 19%. Not so bad considering the climate and that round ball competition thing.

Xmas dinner was a fun affair with the traditional of course, however New Year slightly more subdued. We only really became busy from the 22nd December; leading up to that all very quiet.

It was great to welcome back Mandy and Thaine. Surprisingly we did manage a last minute wedding in Late December; many congratulations to you both – Thomas and Astrid!

Play Station anywhere C/O Alexandra and Alegria!

We have had some good rains in December totalling 123mm. It needed to as it was unbearably hot over a number of days and something needed to break. Thus making the bush even greener and of course thicker. Only the elusive leopard giving the guys the slip but then not surprising in this thick jungle. Some excellent sightings including cheetah actually taking down a kill and all the wailing and gnashing and snarling; you get the picture. Took lots of patience and skill on the guides side! Ellies are going moggy here at Garonga. Every day you have to put the signposts back up; I’m sure it is their favourite past-time.

On the staff front we held a great Xmas party for the guys and gals, and then took the frontline staff to Xmas dinner and overnighting at the famous coach house Inn. Great fun and great food.

Happy Xmas from us all!

Well finally the country is slowly getting back to normal after a 4 weeks break. Fuel prices set to hyper and so on. The Photo Competition will be announced at the end of January (The Judge is not yet back from his leave!).

garonga Image

On a personal note a sad farewell to the heavens for one “Dave Cormack” (Platoon Sergeant of old). You were a great and respected man, Dave. We’ll play “High on the Hill” old mate! One memory that sticks with us forever is when he, as Plt. Sgt went with us on the “French Commando Course”. Being Brits we excelled in everything they had to throw at us and far outscored the other nationalities present. However one Sunday afternoon when off duty the French offer wine for Lunch and, well, this took a turn for the worse. To cut a long story short it went all the way to the Embassy in Paris about these “Animaux Anglais”! On the farewell medal parade the French general came down and refused to present us with ours; so our Instructors did, and they took a shine to us all and gave us a nod, wink and a smile!! Dave Cormack proudly stood in the background saying “Well done lads” at the side of his mouth!

On a lighter note a happy Birthday to my mother – the grand age of 80! She rounded up as many of the family as possible and dragged them round her birth place, Moscow in – 14 Degrees for 4 days. They were all knackered at the end!! Sorry I couldn’t make it!! Ahemmm!

Finally lets not forget the troops out In Afghanistan. Happy Xmas and wishing them safe for 2011. Also to their families at this special time. Why not a donation to “Help4Heroes”!

Looking forward to seeing you in 2011.

Keep Safe!
Bernie

September and October News

What a difference a day makes – do you remember that song? Or “name that tune” as we used to have to do on COS parades. Well it certainly does for the Chilean miners – what a great result; such humble people who stuck it out, and what support from all over; fantastic story – a pity we don’t have more good news like that.

In the USA BO doesn’t seem to be playing according to his hymn sheet; I understand he’s in for a thrashing in the mid-term elections. I think if he got rid of that witch “Nancy Pilosi” he’d do himself a favour, but they all seem to be full of smooth talk and very little action apart from spending billions of dollars. Now you have the “Tea Party” replacing the mainstream Republicans; good for them; it’s the people voting on their feet and ruffling a few mainstream feathers. Always fancied a good cuppa!

In UK “Red ED” is in for the Labour Party supported by the union dinosaurs licking their lips in glee ready to pounce just like the “good (bad) old days” of the 70s. What’s that guy’s name – “Crow” or something (suitable name enough). I think he’d be better off in North Korea; he’d love it there in Stalinist country. Funny when you ask them to go they decide in staying! Anyway good young Red Ed beating his brother to the post. So now we have an unmarried “father to be” who’s an atheist and looks like he left the school shop yesterday! All very promising.

Sarkozy doing a great job in telling the French that they actually do have to “work”, and not have SO much time off. Work until you’re 62 and not 60. My God, what a sacrifice for those poor overworked Frenchies. Then getting the Roma’s out – well yes, there is a bit of a point there in the way it was handled, but most supported it, and that’s the point isn’t it in a democracy. Should do the same in London, and get rid of those thieving rascals who are “handled” by a much bigger sinister force. Sport – Is he coming or going! Rooney!! As if we care about this over rated, disgustingly over paid footballer who can’t score. The Ashes almost upon us. And Europe giving the Yanks a drubbing in Wales – what a pleasure! And very soon the southern hemisphere teams over in Europe and UK for good old rugby. At last some decent sport.

In SA corruption carries on as normal, and the ANC fill their pockets. The bill introducing “media restrictions” on reporting is the closest so far we will come to a “one party state”. Sounds a bit familiar? Look a little further north! Lets see if it takes off or have they slightly over reacted? On a lighter note – the Gautrain is fantastic as long as you are not carrying heavy luggage. If travelling light it is a must. Clean, fast, and door to door.

Jaff doing his bit coaching ; note CJ in blue and the expert back kicker Obie sitting to the left of Guy (Musa) holding water bottle

Now down here in not so sunny Garonga we have had a great couple of months. September we achieved 85% occupancy in Safari Camp and 45% in Little Garonga, and October 55% In Safari Camp and 15% in Little Garonga. Very happy. Thanks indeed for all the support from you direct, and also the operators! In September we celebrated the tying of the knot with Mitch and Nicole; Michael and Esther; Lee and Dawn; and finally Hugh and Sarah (I hope Andy is behaving himself in the local!). Then In October Lee and Jacquie; Mark and Liz, and Gunter and Anita. Many congratulations to you all, and hoping to see you again sometime on an anniversary. It was also great to welcome back to Kelly, and also to David who came to check we were still behaving, and a warm welcome to Rene and Angela who came to see what we do… or don’t do!

September and October are always months where the temperatures can really go mad, and they did. The record so far was a blistering 48 degrees centigrade. Can you believe that! These extremes do lead up to the first rains and also some very impressive thunder and lightning storms, but like the politicians it was all words and no action – 2mm of rain actually although this also coincided with a sleep out believe it or not. So it is up and down at the moment, and hopefully will get the downpours we need very soon. The sleep outs have proven extremely popular with 24 sleep outs in September and 15 in October; pretty good. The picnics and bush baths happening as always with the odd ellie intrusion here and there.

On the game front, the bush is still quite thick, but the guides have been doing very well indeed. 6 x leopard sightings, 28 lion sightings, 13 rhino sightings, 18 ellie sightings, 15 cheetah sightings and loads of plains game. Once the rains do come the game will start moving on to Garonga pretty quickly. We also conducted a game count, and are awaiting results. Game walks are still happening although less so now that the heat is really here; however these are always available to those who request.

How the kitchen ladies cope there also with this extreme heat I don’t know. However as normal they have been producing excellent dishes, and the home grown veggies are doing OK, but like everything, waiting for those rains. I hope you enjoy their recipe.

The very hard to please Garonga supporters!

On the staff front soccer has been played a few times with varying results. Garonga won the first match, and so with confidence flying the next game they bet the opposition team R 200.00 to win; Garonga won the game and the bet. Then the next game with confidence way up there in the stratosphere, they bet the opposition team R 500.00. Of course the staff also contributed here (ie, the supporters). And………… they lost! The supporters, most of them the ladies, then refuted them and castigated them stating they would get no lunch and no washing done! The next match was a more sobering affair with a R 200.00 bet which thankfully they won…. 1-0! Players of note – Rebel (tracker) who remonstrates with the referee because he’s seen Renaldo doing it; CJ diving all over the goal (he’s goalkeeper) even when the ball is going far off, and Obie trying his back kicks which is anyone’s guess as to where it will go. Joking apart they played very well!

I went for a spot of leave to Oman for a few days and decided the only way to get a tan is to burn the first day quickly, and then suffer the next few days. It works! Anyway a great beach break. Now getting ready to do the marketing speel for the fast approaching WTM travel show in London in 2 weeks time. So off to have a cuppa with the Queen and see if she still remembers me.

End of an era for Wilgent - good luck with the retirement!

Lastly a huge goodbye and thanks to Wilgent (security) who has decided to retire (he’s now 60 – obviously some French blood there somewhere). He has loyally supported Garonga and I wish him all the best in his retirement. He has told me that if the new guy doesn’t work out to call him, and he will come back. Now that must be the Irish side! Thanks Wilgent and good luck. Also many congratulations to Claire at Ethos Marketing for the birth of her twins! Wishing you both all the best!

Keep well out there and hopefully see you soon, as you’re all going into Slumberland now in your winter. Dark days and nights, fog, rain; nothing to look forward to except April (5 months away). I hope we can see you here in soon to be a very hot and sunny Garonga.

All the best
Bernie