Passionate People make the difference!

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

My wife and I have just returned from a few days in the bush – communing with nature. It was quiet and it was peaceful – no noisy dogs barking; no drone of heavy trucks from the highway. We were blessed to have sightings of the all the big five – with the exception of leopard (which continues to elude us) – in as natural a habitat you’re going to get in this 21st century.

Elephant Rock lodge in the Nambiti conservancy, just outside Ladysmith is one such place. It takes a maximum of ten guests in beautfiully appointed stone-under-thatch chalets, overlooking a waterhole. It just so happened that we were the only two guests there for the three days. The staff of the lodge were attentive and knowledgeable – and I had the sense that it didn’t matter that we were the only guests; I think they treat all their guests that way. We were treated to two game drives each day in an open Landcruiser and I managed to get some great pictures of the animals we saw. Many might say, “yes, but those private lodges are too expensive for the average South African!” And, I guess that would normally be correct. However, we managed to book our stay on a ‘special’ rate – which you can ask for, and when I worked out that it would include all food and transport, and our own personal guide; and compared the rates to that being charged by Ezemvelo, for instance – where you have to provide your own food and drive yourself (unless you pay a lot extra) – it was really worth it.

The point of this article, however, is not just to give Elephant Rock Lodge a send-up, but to highlight the fact that it was the people who worked there that made the difference. If the lodge had been full, I can imagine the staff would have had to be at the top of their game. Having only two people – and easy-going ones at that – to care for was probably a breeze for them. Yet, we felt they were always giving of their best, and nothing was too much trouble to them. Clearly, they were passionate about the bush and about the animals, and about their lifestyle. I have no doubt that their remuneration – relative to the hours they have to work – leaves a lot to be desired, but without them, we would not have enjoyed our stay nearly as much. You can have a great business and a great product, but if your people are not engaged, you’ll soon have nothing.

If we get another chance, we’ll be going back!