Written by Bernie Smith, Founder and Owner of Garonga Safari Camp.
Having just completed our normal annual close down for a month with our spring cleaning, maintenance, deep cleaning by outside agencies, emptying of drains, cleaning and polishing of floors, it was a bit of a knock to now be given another few months (I’m assuming) to carry on with this.
There is only so much you can clean or do; or so we thought. However, this gives us plenty of opportunity now to really get behind the scenes of what can be improved. I have a huge list already.
In these dark times we have of course had to only stick to a skeleton crew keeping maintenance, a safari team and individuals from each department to really finish off tasks not yet completed on the admin side and to get everything completely organised, counted and shelved. So for April I will keep this team and then at the end of the month further reduce it to a small practical team that can still keep things going. If there are no lockdowns then teams will be rotated. There will still be pipes broken, holes to be dug, problems here, there, and everywhere as normal.
The safari team will be able to clear tracks over the farm and go out to check on game.
Management teams will be split up so we always have a manager on Site.
As for the staff not on site, all the team have taken pay cuts, but to begin with nothing big at all, just so this gives people time to adapt and make necessary changes to their own lives . There will be a minimum limit which salaries will not go below; I hope I can sustain this. I do fear however that Salaries will have to be reduced each month a bit further until we get back to where we were…the big unknown! No Company can go on like this indefinitely, and eventually one has to say “That’s as far as we can go”. Everyone is in the same boat.
I’m sure there are people/companies out there waiting for these types of opportunity where companies are sold for a fraction of what they should be. Soul destroying indeed.
I will keep walking to the office every day and still have some great surprises on the way.
We are slowly coming into Autumn now and it really is the best time of the year; warm to hot days, but cool nights and early mornings. Having said that we have just had 30mm of rainfall over the last few days which is so needed to see the animals through the dry winter months.
Our daily routine includes doctors and nurses with daily temperature takings before we all start. Anyone 37 degrees and over is ‘isolated’. We can still shop for groceries once per week but it does take effectively a whole day to get there, shop, get back.
I will get stuck into files I have been hiding in cupboards for years and get my admin sorted out; not my favourite at all. No, I don’t have a PA!
Our marketing teams will continue as best they can also locked down. I feel this will end up whereby travelling on sales calls will become a thing of the past and Skype etc will all take over. Social contact and forming relationships though is so important so maybe a reduction in travelling! I wish them and their families best wishes and thanks!
On that note I have made a rate freeze for 2021-2022. Planning already on a comeback with a great special reopening rate, assuming we are still around.
Also to the tour operators who support us, good luck to you and your families too! Lets all work as one team when the lights are switched back on.
To our reservations teams who have spent long hours trying to re-book guests and juggle dates around and keep in line with new T&Cs for this time; it is not easy so please give them space and a bit of time.
To YOU, our guests past, and future, we so miss you, and when/if we reopen please don’t be surprised if we initially start with fish fingers, baked beans and chips as our special. It takes a long time to recover and cuts need to be made initially. OK , maybe not baked beans then!
Our SM (Facebook & Instagram) will continue , not least with the Garonga Diaries. We thank WildWeb, who handle our website, for continuing this SM; so important.
The Garonga Diaries
The idea behind the diaries is to give you a weekly story of what has been done on that day at the camp. We wont bore you with long stories, but will rather add images now and again, and keep you all informed of exactly who has done what. You are very much part of this, so we really encourage interaction, ideas, comments (only fun ones) etc. After the first 3 months of this we will/I will offer a prize (the same as we do for the photography competition) for the best idea, or comment etc . I will judge this, and so hope you have a dry sense of humour and ….. be gentle with me!
Sophie (Guide) will publish this on a weekly basis with Loraine (Safari Camp manager). I will be censoring of course just to ensure we keep on the right wing…. Sorry I mean right way (Ahmmm!)
Garonga will remain closed to the public until 30th June. I will then make a decision as to when to reopen depending of course on flights coming in, and the general travel situation around the globe. Our reservations teams will remain open for bookings however throughout. We will keep you informed of all changes.
Now you all keep safe and well, and we so much look forward to seeing you when the lights come back on.
All the Best
PS: The Daily Diary will not be as long as this I promise!