On a rare quiet day in the middle of a busy July, we as camp managers were afforded the opportunity to treat our general staff to a surprise game drive.
Anyone that has been to our camps will know how hard our staff work. Housekeepers, waiters and chefs are often up at 4am to prepare fresh tea and coffee, baking breads, muffins and setting up extensive breakfast buffets. Work continues throughout the day with room cleaning, lunch and dinner services as well as goods issues, routine maintenance, linen washing and even time to practice for the evening choir performance!
Our Wonderful Staff! From left to right: Brenda, Bart, Moses, Febby,Talisai, Aston & Spencer
A Break in Routine…
A huge buzz flew around the camp when the news broke. Who would go? And when? “Where is my camera!?” “What will we see!?” There was infectious excitement, particularly from our new female staff contingent, some of which had never seen many of the animals present in the park.
Two vehicles went in the morning, two in the afternoon to give all staff a chance to get out and explore. Sightings did not disappoint. The brimming smiles that accompanied their owners at the beginning of the drive, remained upon return to camp. We were greeted with stories of leopards lazing, wandering waterbuck, elephants wallowing and a crowned eagle feasting on an unlucky baboon.
Guiding with a Local Perspective…
It was also an interesting break in affairs for our pro guides Chris Farao and Spencer Chizuwa. Offers to guide in the local language, Chinjanya, were quickly rebuked with chants of “We want to be treated like your normal guests!” followed by wails of laughter. As well as being a chance to physically see the local flora and fauna, the drives presented the prospect to cross-reference behaviours of the same animals seen in both the outer lying villages and within the park. In particular, there was genuine shock at the relaxed nature of the elephants. No longer were they aggressive crop raiders but gentle giants gorging on a natural diet, oblivious to the presence of people.
Talisai’s ‘Special Bush Cows’…
Perhaps the highlight of the activity was when one of our housekeepers, Talisai, ordered the vehicle to a halt and pointed at a multitude of rounded hoof prints in the mud. “Wait! Who has brought cows in here??” Turning around, with a wry smile and a glint in his eye, Spencer replied “The cow you are referring to is called a buffalo, they are special bush cows that are able to lead each other without our help, they brought themselves here!” After the scenes of hilarity had calmed, it was time to return home and back to work.
All agreed it was a welcome surprise.