Meet the Team: Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve

The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve (GMPGR), together with the Pidwa Wilderness Reserve forms the Greater Makalali Nature Reserve (GMNR), is a 22,000-ha game reserve situated outside Gravelotte in the Limpopo Province. The reserve has seven owners who have retained ownership of their individual properties but have removed fences to create a conservancy allowing game to traverse the entire extent of the reserve.

The reserve is home to the Big 5, with previously eradicated species including lion, elephant, rhino, hippo, buffalo, cheetah and hyena being reintroduced. Leopard, brown hyena and the smaller mammal species as well as the endangered ground hornbill and the many threatened and endangered vulture and raptor species are present on the reserve.

Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve Team

To run such a large reserve, we need a very special and motivated team. From mending fences to ensuring legal and environmental compliance and liaising with the Anti-Poaching Teams, the team has their work cut out for them – nothing is too small!

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Josias Mohuba (Senior Fence Patroller), Richard Sachse (Rhino Monitor), Matthew Mohuba (Fence Patroller), James Maila (Maintenance), Lydia Raganya (B2W Environmental Monitor), Peter Malatji (Maintenance), Annickiy Mafogo (B2W Environmental Monitor), Clement Mahlo (Environmental Monitor), Samuel Komane (Environmental Monitor), Lorraine Ngomane (Housekeeper), Carol Cerney (Assistant Rhino Monitor), Emmanuel Mahlo (Gate Guard), Yvette Panos (Financial Administrator and B2W Coordinator) and Rob Panos (Reserve Warden)
Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Jabulane Khoza (Main Gate Security Guard)
Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Emmanuel Mahlo (Garonga Gate Security Guard)

Protected Area Based Environmental Monitors

The EM programme was started by the South Africa’s National Department of Environmental Affairs in response to the challenges of high levels of unemployment adjacent to conservation areas, coupled with increases in the illegal wildlife trade. The programme aims to grow conservation capacity within South African National Parks’ (SANParks) protected areas including provincial and private reserves.

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Richard Sachse and Carol Cerney (Rhino Monitors) and Rob Panos (Reserve Warden)

Four Environmental Monitors are deployed on the GMPGR through an integrated plan to assist with conservation support, including various projects and activities to maintain sustainability within the GMPGR.

Back to the Wild Programme

The Back to the Wild (B2W) Programme seeks the promotion and conservation of wildlife, fauna and flora, and the natural environment, including the ecosystem in and on the reserve land, as well as establishing a formal release facility for compromised and rehabilitated indigenous wildlife on the reserve land.

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Back to Wild re-wilding enclosure

Over the years, the GMPGR has facilitated the release of several species from various centres on a small-scale. The capacity for release within GMNR has been greatly increased through the construction of six suitable re-wilding enclosures within a release facility, with the funding assistance of the Humane Society International. A slow-release process is carefully managed to ensure previously compromised and rehabilitated animals are successfully released back to the wild.

The B2W Programme is managed by Yvette Panos, who works together with Audrey Delsink Kettles, who is the Executive Director of Humane Society International: Africa, and Nicci Wright, the Executive Director of African Pangolin Working Group and an internationally qualified wildlife rehabilitation specialist.

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Lydia Raganya and Annickiy Mafogo (B2W Environmental Monitors)

Lydia Raganya and Annickiy Mafogo are the Environmental Monitors stationed at the B2W facility, providing the necessary dedication and care of the wildlife to ensure the success of this programme.

Anti-Poaching Unit: K9 Conservation

The K9 Conservation Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) has provided logistical backup and support to the GMNR since 2014, through the deployment of elite, highly trained and specialized working-dog units. The APU is based on the reserve permanently, patrolling both in vehicles and on foot. The field rangers and dogs are carefully selected and paired to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
K9 APU Senior Staff: Prince (Senior Field Ranger), Peter Wearne (Unit Manager), Justice (Assistant Sergeant) and Nhlanhla (Sergeant)

The Belgian Malinois, originally bred for herding purposes, have the perfect temperament, intelligence, dedication, agility and diligence to be anti-poaching K9 soldiers on the frontlines of anti-poaching efforts.

Garonga, Garonga Safari Camp, Meet the Team, Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Greater Makalali Nature Reserve, South Africa Safari, Big 5 Safari
Peter Wearne (Unit Manager of the Makalali Unit)

K9 Conservation’s primary function is to aid and assist the GMNR to counteract illegal hunting and wildlife trade by poachers and poaching syndicates. The exceptionally dedicated APU on the GMNR is led by Peter Wearne, who has been based at the GMPGR since October 2014.

For further information on GMPGR and GMNR or to support Back to the Wild, please contact us.

Behind the Scenes: Meet the Marketing Teams

As with any successful lodge, we have several companies who support us in the various fields of marketing. Without marketing you cannot survive in any business.

Our Marketing Teams are made up of dedicated staff who pound the streets during the days, attend functions in the evenings, organise workshops, marketing trips, PR, reporting, and are just continuously putting a good word out. They work incredible hours striking up brilliant and loyal relationships with the trade. Garonga is forever thankful for their professionalism and dedication. Meet the teams…

United Kingdom and Ireland

Ethos Marketing have been representing Garonga since day one. That in itself speaks wonders. Alison, Amanda, Sue, Claire and Kevin have been totally professional and successful in what they do.

Behind the Scenes, Marketing Teams, Garonga, South African safari, safari camp
Alison Whitfield, Founder and Managing Director of Ethos Marketing

A very experienced team for Africa marketing; they don’t just represent Garonga as they have a large portfolio that they represent.

Marketing Teams, Garonga, South Africa
Garonga’s owner, Bernie Smith, with James Jayasundera and Hattie Coleman of Vivid Travel

One of the things we do is arrange sales trips around the UK for Bernie with one of the Sales Team usually accompanying him to ensure continuity of the relationship building and smooth follow ups. This was Bernie on his latest trip with James Jayasundera and Hattie Coleman of Vivid Travel.

Germany and Benelux

Hella has been representing Garonga for many years. Raised in Namibia, she has a very full knowledge of Africa and is an “old Africa hand” (meant in the most respectful way of course!) She also represents a large portfolio of African products, most of which are part of the Classic Safari Africa Group. She is ably supported by Roland, who has the responsibility of dealing with PR such as organising press trips, magazine articles etc.

Behind the Scenes, Marketing Teams, Garonga, South African safari, safari camp
Hella from Garonga and Classic Safari Africa

South Africa

 Africa In Focus is owned and run by Andrew McEwan. Andy set up AIF in 2005 after having operated as a professional safari guide at Singita for many years. This experience has given him a true knowledge of how a lodge works and can give the trade a genuine picture of how things are done.

Behind the Scenes, Marketing Teams, Garonga, South African safari, safari camp
The team at Africa in Focus

AIF have been representing Garonga for about eight years now and we have a truly awesome and friendly relationship with Andy and his team. Andy is ably supported by Rogan, his GM, Cherly, in Johannesburg and Leonie in Cape Town. AIF also represent a portfolio of stunning properties in Southern Africa.

Classic Safari Africa

Classic Safari Africa is an association of privately owned camps and properties in East and Southern Africa. Each property is unique in that the owners are very much hands on and the property itself is small and intimate. A tough inspection must be passed to become a member and a very high benchmark is necessary to qualify. All the properties, together with Classic Safari Africa, often attend marketing trade shows, local and international, together on the one stand which makes a formidable presence.

Annually we attend an AGM at one of the properties where we swop ideas and have discussions about the association and properties etc., which is priceless. We would easily recommend any one of these properties for your holiday. Classics is a well-known and highly respected brand in the African Tourism Industry. It is superbly organised and controlled by our Executive Officer, Pauline, who runs the office from Cape Town.

Behind the Scenes: Meet the Safari Guide Team

Meet the safari guide team who hold the dreams of our guests in their hands, when they set out in search of the perfect safari experience.

There is nothing quite like the excitement and anticipation of your first game drive. The wind in your hair and the scent of the bush whizzing past as you set off. This experience is what draws our guests to book at Garonga Safari Camp. Operating on 22,000HA private game reserve in the Makalali Conservancy just west of Kruger National Park, we have all the big game and heaps more. Being situated in a large wilderness area also contributes towards such an amazing game viewing area. With passion driving them, all members of our safari guide team are here to give you maximum game viewing experience.

Safari Team – Guides

Jaffeth:
As Head Guide at Garonga, Jaff started here as a tracker when we first opened 21 years ago.

Over time he has passed various qualifications and progressed through a position of guide to now our Head Guide. His key strength is his tracking skill. Currently he is trying to accomplish his Senior Tracker Level which is one step below the highest tracking level achievable.

He runs his own ‘Guest Walk Experience’ to show guests an insight into how he tracks, and also gives an in-depth knowledge on his cultural roots, ending with a fun ‘Catapult Shoot Competition’ with the guests. Something which is enjoyed by all. See more about our walking safari here

Josia:
When Jaff is on leave, Josia picks up position as 2nd in charge. He also has a “Walk Experience” to share with the guests – ‘The Solitude Walk’. Not always easy keeping people silent throughout a walk. He is a very accomplished safari guide and brings in great humour and fun to his safaris.

Garonga Safari camp, guide, Josia, Phineas
Josia and Phineas

Samantha:
Samantha is currently attempting her Trails Guide, which will then enable her to also carry out walks, or to substitute if Josia is away. She is an extremely keen and enthusiastic guide, and very willing to go the extra mile to find the game for her guests.

Derrick:
One of the ‘old school’ who has been guiding for over 20 years. Derrick is a very accomplished and experienced guide. Although only just started with Garonga Safari Camp, he has fitted in very well with the ‘Safari for the Soul’ philosophy. We aim to up-skill him even more to enable him to lead more diverse safaris.

Sophie:
Although having just joined us via the Bushwise Training Programme, Sophie has been guiding for over two years. She has traded her legal career in the UK for her passion – guiding in the African bush. She can communicate confidently in French, and can get away with passable Spanish, which is extremely handy for our European guests. Sophie is very passionate and enthusiastic about her new-found career. Sophie is also an excellent photographer and has the added responsibility of sending video and image content as well as written copy for use on our website and social platforms.

Garonga safari camp, guide, tracker, Sophie, Kaizer
Sophie and Kaizer

Safari team – Trackers

Kaizer:
Kaizer teams up with Sophie and is very knowledgeable and has that 6th sense as to where the animals are heading. A very capable tracker indeed and converses well with our guests. He has just passed his FGASA 1 Level Guides Exam theory and practical, so he is also a qualified guide.

Phineas:
He teams up with Josia and always carries a great smile and sense of humour. Phineas is a very capable tracker and works extremely well with Josia, making them quite an amusing team. He also has just passed his FGASA 1 Level Guides Exam.

Richard:
Richard has been here the longest amongst the trackers and he teams up well with Jaff. A very thorough and experienced tracker. You may also come across Richard behind the Manhattan Bar in the Boma, serving after dinner drinks. Richard has also just passed his FGASA 1 Level Guide Exam.

Steward:
He tracks with Samantha, and is a very likeable, well-spoken and intelligent person. Steward is fairly new to tracking but has taken to it extremely well. He received top marks out of all the trackers for the FGASA 1 Level Guides Exam and so holds great potential.

Garonga Safari camp, guide, tracker, Samantha, Steward
Samantha and Steward

Bongi:
Bongi is a very enthusiastic tracker and teams up with Derrick. Being very new to the team, our aim is to get him fully qualified up to a FGASA 1 Level Guide over the next 3 months. We foresee him being a great asset to the safari team.

Garonga safari camp, guide, tracker, Derrick, Bongi
Derrick and Bongi

This is a big team with a big heart. Their responsibility is a great one as guests arrive full of hope and expectation to see as much wildlife as possible. Time and time again the team continue to deliver using their experience, knowledge and passion. Thank you to all at Garonga Safari Camp for your hard work, energy and commitment to your roles!

Here we leave you with just one example of a rare sighting to the delight and astonishment of our American guests…

Tales from a Safari Camp: A Lion Cub Murder Mystery

On the 7th of July 2018 we came across a very sad sight on our morning game drive at Garonga Safari Camp. We found the bodies of two young lion cubs who had been killed…and so began our murder mystery. 

Identifying our Suspects and Victims

Unfortunately, life for a young lion cub is a tough one as almost every predator will kill them if they have the chance as it is all part of their instinct to remove competition and prevent the cubs becoming a threat when they are older. Whilst the pool of potential suspects was large, our investigative team was leaning towards an adult male lion as the culprit for the crime. The previous evening we had received reports of a pair of mating lions in almost the exact same spot.

Male lion from the Garonga Pride at Makalali Conservancy
Male lion from the Garonga Pride at Makalali Conservancy

It is always heart breaking to see any of the animals lose their lives, but the Garonga team was especially concerned that the dead cubs might be the two adorable trouble makers from ‘the Garonga pride’. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them, ‘the Garonga pride’ it is made up of three feisty females; granny, mum and a perpetually curious daughter, two resident pride males and two heartwrenchingly mischievous cubs.

Playful lion cubs from the Garonga Pride at Makalali Conservancy
Playful lion cubs from the Garonga Pride at Makalali Conservancy
Tracking ‘The Garonga Safari Camp Pride’

For about 3 days our lions went into full stealth mode, and despite finding fresh tracks, they had retreated deep into the thickets and we saw neither hide nor hair of them. Now, as guides, strictly speaking you are not supposed to have favourite animals. However, the Garonga pride has managed to sneak its way into the hearts of our whole team and we were increasingly desperate to discover the fate of our cubs.

One morning it was quiet in the lodge so we collected together our expert trackers and set out to unravel the mystery once and for all. It seemed that the lions were missing us too as at about 5.30 that morning they had been calling. This gave us a heading and before too long we found our 3 females looking healthy and relaxed, but the cubs were nowhere to be seen. However, the cubs are still at an age where their mother will usually hide them in thick bush to keep them safe during the day.

A lioness from the Garonga Pride in the Makalali Conservancy
A lioness (and mother) from the Garonga Pride in the Makalali Conservancy

Not to be defeated we left the ladies and picked up their tracks, tracking in reverse to look for evidence that our cubs were still with us. To cover the maximum ground possible we split the team with Josia, Samantha, Derrick, Stewart and Sophie on foot and Kaizer, Phineas and Bongi on the vehicle.

After tracking the one female through drainage lines and across some of our more open plains we had the best discovery – miniature lion tracks sitting on top of the dew from the night before and heading towards a thicket that would be the perfect place to stash a pair of cubs for the day. We radioed in the rest of the team and had a celebratory coffee stop, delighted to have discovered that our little troublemakers were alive and well. Later we slowly started heading towards where the cubs had spent the day and were rewarded with two little furballs full of energy chasing after mum and pouncing on each other. The relief was shared by the whole safari camp team and was enormous.

The Sad Truth

It seems that the two cubs who lost their lives were, in fact, from a rival pride that had wandered into the territory belonging to the Garonga males. It is always sad to see such a sight but a male lion’s instinct to kill cubs that are not his own is one of the harsh realities of the circle of life, it helps to ensure that the strongest genes are being passed to the next generation of lions, which in turn will hopefully help to ensure that we can continue to marvel at these incredible creatures for years to come. The life of a safari camp guide is never a dull one and this episode of Bush CSI [Crime Scene Investigation] is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Lion cub from the Garonga Pride in the Makalali Conservancy
Lion cub from the Garonga Pride in the Makalali Conservancy

Photos taken, and article written, by Sophie Barrett (guide, tracker and photographer at Garonga Safari Camp) 

Behind the Scenes at Garonga: Meet the Farm & Maintenance Team

Our small team with the big job of making sure everything runs as it should.

This month we are going further behind the scenes to meet the team of men who aren’t scared to get their hands dirty. They run a tight ship, making sure that everything at the lodge and on the farm is up and running as it should be. Their skills range from painting to plumbing and even mechanics for our vehicles. It’s for sure that things would grind to a halt without them.

Steffen:
Leading the team as Farm and Maintenance Manager, Steffen has been at Garonga for 18 months and is married to Charlotte (Safari Camp Manageress). Steffen is extremely committed to performing great tasks and always puts 110% into what he does.

Albert:
Having moved across from Makalali some 15 years ago, Albert is our Assistant Farm and Maintenance Manager. He is perceptive in finding any problems and resolving them. He is very committed and proud of his work. A great asset and someone who always has a smile on his dial!

Farm and Maintenance team at Garonga
Albert

Fixon:
Fixon has been on the Farm for over 30 years, since the previous owner of Garonga. This makes him extremely knowledgeable of where things are and capable of putting his hand to everything. He is also not afraid at all to get stuck into those drains! He is always happy to help out.

Farm and Maintenance team at Garonga
Fixon

Given:
Given oversees the Farmhouse area, which is considerable, and Bernie’s house in the afternoons. He is very proud of his work and ably assists in maintenance when required. A very keen footballer and a great team asset.

Patrik:
Having joined the team permanently 3 years ago, Patrik was originally only called in for casual work as and when we needed more hands. He is a very capable person on maintenance issues and also with vehicles. Patrik is very committed to his job.

Farm and Maintenance team at Garonga
Farm and Maintenance team

With this incredible team, Garonga is able to run like a well-oiled machine and we are forever grateful!

Behind the scenes at Garonga: Meet the Housekeeping Team

Meet the invisible angels … the ones who miraculously make up the rooms and public areas but nobody sees them.

We all know that cleanliness is high on the list of importance of running a lodge and these ladies are all very proud of their duties and responsibilities, and each take great care in presenting a clean, immaculate room. In addition to the rooms they also take on other duties such as laundry, preparing The Bush Bath, and setting up The Sleepout. Even though a lot rests on their shoulders, these ladies continue to work quietly and diligently through their tasks.

Introducing the team…

Buhle:
Buhle oversees the housekeeping and laundry department and is also our massage therapist, which she is brilliant at! Originally from Zimbabwe, Buhle has been at Garonga for over 3 years now. She has a great rapport with her team, and she takes on this additional responsibility with enthusiasm.

Margaret:
Margaret has been employed at Garonga since day 1, which speaks true to her loyalty. Her housekeeping duties are at Little Garonga and she performs her tasks extremely well and with great pride, knowing that it is only her responsible for the more luxurious rooms at Little Garonga.

Garonga House Keeping Team
Senty

Dorah:
Dorah has been at Garonga for 18 years now so is a seasoned veteran of looking after guest rooms. She is very quiet but gets on with her tasks with great determination and pride. Being an ex-school teacher, she is well respected by all staff and assists greatly with their personal queries.

Delphine:
Delphine is fairly new to the camp and has been with us for just over 3 years. Having suffered tragic family problems, it is admirable how she has continued her tasks with such pride and enthusiasm.

Senty:
Affectionately referred to as ‘The Scruffy One’, Senty is extremely proud of her appearance and very professional in her duties. She has been at Garonga now for 17 years and is a great asset to the team.

Garonga House Keeping Team
Senty

Christine:
Having been at Garonga for 18 years, Christine is responsible for laundry and the public areas of Little Garonga, as well as assisting Margaret when the camp is full. Christine has a great sense of humour and enjoys light banter which is always great fun to work with. She is extremely professional and proud of her work.

Garonga House Keeping Team
Eunice

Eunice:
Eunice has been at Garonga for 16 years. She has the great responsibility for the laundry at the main camp, which demonstrates her careful nature with what she does especially considering some guests’ clothing can be very fragile and expensive. She also ensures the cleanliness and tidiness of all the public areas and you will always see Eunice with a smile on her face.

Garonga House Keeping Team
Eunice

Phyllis:
Phyllis has been at Garonga for just over 8 years and has the unenviable task of looking after Bernie’s (otherwise known as ‘Mr. Grumpy’) house. Diligent and highly intelligent, Phyllis is always up for a good old natter and enjoys partaking in the occasional discussion on current affairs. She keeps Bernie informed on any staffing problems or issues so he can then sort them out quickly.

These ladies are all such an asset to our team and are an integral part of making Garonga what it is. They give the rooms that loving touch so when you climb into bed, it feels like home!

Behind the scenes at Garonga: Meet the reservations team

Find out more about the fun ladies behind the phone calls and emails

Studies show that first impressions are made within the first 17 seconds of meeting someone new and therefore selecting a team to handle reservations and guest enquiries is one of Garonga’s top priorities. They are the voice of the organisation which can make or break a booking.

Effective communication skills are the key to success in all areas of life and lack of this in a professional setting can lead to an error, misunderstanding, frustration and (in the case of a lodge), a dissatisfied potential guest that walks away and tells on average 9-15 other people about their experience.

But it’s not all serious. Yes, the reservations team must be extremely professional, informative, courteous and helpful but they also have to be fun people. They must be “people’s people” that form a friendly, informal connection with guests from the outset.

Garonga is blessed to have those qualities in the persons of Randee, Claire and Jen.

Randee September:

Randee at Garonga Safari Camp
Randee at Garonga Safari Camp

Randee has been consulting through her company ‘Pro-Active Reservations’ for over two years now. She has visited Garonga many times and knows the camp very well. She manages all enquiries from the agencies we work with.

Claire Long & Jennifer Harmse:

It is only recently that Bernie (owner of Garonga) has also chosen to have a separate department for direct bookings. This decision was made to ensure that more time can be spent dealing with each guest enquiry in a more personal manner, offering a far better user experience than if it was all dealt with by one department.

Claire is working with WildWeb which develops and manages the website and digital marketing. She comes from a tour operator background and so her knowledge and experience in this field is top notch.

Claire reservations Garonga
Claire Long

For Jennifer, this is her first full-time job after studying Travel & Tourism for 1 year prior to it.

Jennifer Harmse at Garonga
Jennifer Harmse

Garonga owner Bernie says, “I have tried managing reservations ‘in house’ before and although it is great to have all the information at your fingertips, it does create problems when staff members go on leave or depart. It is much more comforting to know that if a person moves on, is sick, or goes on holiday then the position is still covered by a professional at WildWeb.”

From feedback we have received we know that this set up is working and that Randee, Claire and Jen are doing a wonderful job. The system runs smoothly, and communication is efficient.

Thank you to the reservations team for helping to create and maintain that ideal first impression which has resulted in many a satisfied guest here at Garonga.

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.

Behind the Scenes at Garonga: Meet the Kitchen Team

Feeding your soul at Garonga Safari Camp is in the artful hands of our passionate and skilful kitchen staff. And they take your tummy’s satisfaction very seriously.

Over the next few months we are going to take you on a journey behind the scenes at Garonga Safari Camp. You will have insight into the love, passion and history behind all aspects of the lodge’s services which, of course, stem from its beautiful people as a foundation.

A focus on Food
Breakfast buffet at Garonga Safari Camp
The Breakfast Buffet

In January we start with a focus on our champion chefs and kitchen staff who not only guarantee that no one ever goes hungry at Garonga but also promise to bust your new year’s diet resolution in a flash. From the droewors (traditional South African dried meat) and spicy corn snacks served on your game drives paired with fabulous wines, to your high tea or potjie (South African stew) night in The Boma, everything is sprinkled with a generous dose of African spirit, energy and a smile. They are even kind enough to share with you their ‘not-so-secret’ recipe for their renowned Amarula Chocolate Cake (see below)…what a lovely bunch they are!

The Team
  • Reineth – Head Chef 

Reineth, (our ever faithful!) started at Garonga when we first opened in 1997. Over the years she has performed magnificently, and quite rightly was given the position of Head Chef 10 years ago. During our Closedown in 2016 for 3 months, she spent 3 weeks in a top hotel in Cape Town learning more tricks of the trade.

  • Venecia – Assistant Head Chef
Venecia at Garonga
Venecia at Garonga

Venecia has been at Garonga a few years now coming across from Makalali. She is a very capable stand-In when Reineth is away and a valuable assistant to her day to day.

  • Sylvia, Caroline and Phumzile – Sous Chefs 
Caroline at Garonga
Caroline at Garonga

Syvlvia and Caroline both previously worked in the scullery and over the years learnt cooking techniques by observing the other Chefs. Both are now very capable Sous Chefs. Phumzile started at Garonga about a year ago as a Breakfast Chef and she has progressed beautifully and is now more than capable of preparing dinners as well.

  • Paulinah – Scullery Manager
Paulinah at Garonga
Paulinah at Garonga

Paulinah (another ever faithful staff member) has been at Garonga almost 20 years and has overseen the scullery ever since she started. She also takes casual staff under her wing when they come in for short periods of time.

  • Lee-Ann – Trainer from the Culinary Guild

Lee-Ann started consulting in 2015. She comes up from Cape Town about 3 times per year for 10 days. She completely overhauled our food style and presentation when we reopened in June 2016 after our 3 months refurbishment. It has made a huge difference and the standard and quality of food and presentation has dramatically improved.

Each evening at Garonga takes on a theme, and we rotate between private and communal dining. We do also cater for all dietary requirements on request. You can see more about our daily offering in our previous blog ‘A Foodie Traveller’s Delight’.

The people behind the food, and of course the food itself, at Garonga is something we are exceptionally proud of. We would like to publicly thank our staff for the commitment and enthusiasm they show to not only delivering top quality food to our guests but also for their motivation to continually learn and develop themselves, meaning Garonga can also only grow bigger and better and, importantly, keep creating more delicious and unique cakes like this one…

Not-So-Secret Chocolate Amarula Cake
Afternoon Tea - Amarula Chocolate Cake Garonga Safari Camp
Afternoon Tea – Amarula Chocolate Cake

Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake:
(Separate mixture into two tins when baking. Use spring form cake tins, they are more user friendly)
120ml good quality cocoa powder
250ml boiling water
6 whole eggs
440ml caster sugar
120ml vegetable oil
500ml cake flour
20ml baking powder
4ml salt

Ingredients for the Amarula Syrup & Topping:
800ml granulated sugar
1000ml water
300 ml Amarula liqueur
4 tins caramel condense milk
800ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peak for topping
Flake chocolate

Method for the Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180 C
Sift the cocoa powder
Pour the boiling water the cocoa, stir to dissolve into the water and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs, caster sugar and oil together until ribbon stage and sugar is dissolved
Add the cooled cocoa mixture to the egg mixture
Sift the rest of the dry ingredients together and fold into cocoa / egg mixture
Divide the mixture into two 22 cm x 30 cm pans and bake for approximately 20 minute or until a skewer comes out clean

Method for the Amarula Syrup
Heat the granulated sugar and water together for about 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid has reduced slightly.
Remove the sugar mixture from the stove and whisk in the Amarula slowly until well combined.
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, while they are still hot, prick the cake with a skewer (all over – leave the cake in the tin)
Divide the syrup and pour an equal amount over both cakes while hot.
Place the cakes in the fridge to cool completely.

Method for the Topping:
Once cake has cooled completely in the tin, in the fridge, spread caramel on one of the cakes
Remove the other cake out of its tin and place the cake on top the caramel topped cake.
Spread whipped cream on top of the cake in the tin.
Place the cake back in the fridge to set for another 1 hour or until serving. (keep in the tin)
Just before serving sprinkle chocolate shavings on top and serve.