Behind the scenes at Garonga: Meet the Waiters

Meet the waiters at Garonga and hear about how they were ‘Under the Influence’ in the name of good service…

If you have ever had a wonderful meal and ambiance spoiled by an apathetic waiter then you will know what a difference a ‘service with a smile’ really makes to your dining experience. Waiters are a huge asset to any lodge and a vital ingredient in the customer service pie; they serve, they converse and they strike a relationship with the guests. But there is also a distinct difference between genuine or fake service which is easily noticed by diners. Here at Garonga the smile is real. We are very proud that our waiting staff simply seem to ooze courtesy, grace, interest and all round happiness.

The waiting role is varied and includes not only serving meals but also packing and unpacking of cooler boxes for safaris, constant cleaning and checking of items for meals as well as an in-depth knowledge of what is being served, pairing of wines, setting up of tables and stock taking.

Meet our happy chappy team:

Our waiting team on training in Cape Town
Our waiting team on training in Cape Town

Herfric
Herfric has been here since before Garonga opened as he started assisting on the farm once Bernie (owner) purchased the land. He has a heart of gold and will do anything for you. He oversees the department, and is also Head Butler at Little Garonga. When the Manager (Robert) is away on leave then Herfric stands in as Manager.

Aldrin
Aldrin has been at Garonga just over 4 years. He is extremely competent and quietly dedicated to his work. However he also has a comical streak and every now and again will perform a dance for the Guests. Aldrin is in charge of the waiters at the Safari Camp.

Courage
Courage has been at Garonga just over three years. He started at Little Garonga in the security department, then he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. When an opening became available he was then employed permanently at Safari Camp. Courage is from Zimbabwe, he is very friendly and helpful and very amusing. He won Garonga’s ‘waiter prize’ in 2017 for the ‘most special wines sold’.

Bongani
Bongani has been employed at Garonga for just over two years. He is ‘the mischievous one’. He is extremely good with guests and has that knack of remembering names very easily.

Eric
Eric has been at Garonga for over a year. He started off in the security department at Little Garonga, and then an opening became available and he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. Due to the occupancy success at Little Garonga, Eric now has a permanent position as a waiter there under Herfric. He has settled in very well and taken on the training extremely fast and competently.

Waiters ‘Under The Influence’
This programme was started in 2017 giving waiters the opportunity to excel in their sales skills. The prize was 5 days training with our main wine supplier in Cape Town called ‘Under the Influence’.

The competition endedon 28th February 2018 (just before our annual three week close down). Courage, as mentioned above, won the competition, however as a surprise Bernie (owner of Garonga) decided to send all of the waiters to do the training course. None of them had ever flown in a plane before, let alone been to the ‘Mother City’, Cape Town.

Garonga Safari Camp Waiting Staff
Our waiting team in Cape Town experiencing wine pairing with their meal

During the course they visited many wine farms, saw the whole process in action, had lectures and lessons, sat down for wine lunches (that was the toughest part of course!) and in the end completed a test which they all passed. They also saw a bit of Cape Town too. Not only was it meant to educate them even further on wines and therefore be able to sell them better on return, but was also meant to be a fun, engaging, motivating and bonding experience.  Big thanks to ‘Under The Influence’ for providing this great week of wine education!

Our team of waiters wait eagerly (with their big genuine grins) to welcome and serve you.

Behind the Scenes at Garonga: Meet the Security Team

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

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

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

Introducing the team:

  • Jazman: Head of Security
Jazman
Jazman

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

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

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

  • Thomas: Security Guard
Thomas
Thomas

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

  • Anold

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

Garonga’s Uninvited Guests:

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

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

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

A Foodie Traveller’s Delight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breakfast Tray at Garonga Safari Camp
Breakfast Treats

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

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

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

Cheeseboard at Garonga Safari Camp
The Cheeseboard Selction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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