Saturday, March 12, 2016

What is a VIP unit?

As an eco lodge, we have no running water.  This sounds a whole lot scarier than it is.

We do not have plumbed, running water. We do have big bowsers of beautiful, fresh, clean borehole water which we bring in every day, and is available all the time.

(We use this water for drinking, showering, flushing the loo, washing cars, cooking, washing up - everything.)

Our toilets are amazing. 
They are called VIP units - Ventilation Improved Pits.
They are lovely porcelain toilets, with wooden seats. 
The only way you know they're not like your toilet at home is that there is no s-bend and you "flush" with a jug of water instead of a chain.
So it's a "long drop" with a chimney built into the toilet, which keeps the air flowing and makes it odour free and fly free.
It works like a charm.

But there is one restriction:

We were all sitting down at the big dining room table and enjoying lunch.
One of the guests said, "So, you know your, um, VIP toilet?"

I replied in the affirmative.

"So, is there any way of getting something out if you've, um, dropped something down there?"

I replied in the negative.

Turns out he had been looking down the toilet with his torch (no, I do not know why, or what on earth he expected to see), and his sunglasses had fallen off the top of his head. He got such a fright when they fell down the toilet, that he dropped his torch in after them.

It continued to shine for 6 hours.

Friday, March 11, 2016

How do you deal with the cold?

We're getting loads of enquiries for the winter months, and people are asking the "how do you deal with the cold" questions.

Winter is really a superb time to visit Madikwe.  It's the dry season so the veld is low, all the animals congregate at the water holes, and game viewing is a doddle. The wild dogs den in June/July and then: puppies (need I say more?).

We remind you to bring a proper jacket and all the paraphernalia you would if going snow skiing (seriously, bring gloves and scarves and hats).  Because, whilst we go out later in the mornings, and come home earlier in the evenings, the temperature can still drop below freezing on those game drives.

We have a huge camp fire, extra blankets, hot chocolate and sherry.

And, our special little surprise - an old fashioned hot water bottle snuck into your bed by the fairies while you're having dinner. 

Well, that’s what we used to do.
No more. Here's why:

It was a winter’s night, the guests had all been on amazing game drives, defrosted around the fire and enjoyed a hearty dinner. Everyone headed off to bed.

One lady got to her room and saw a curious shape in her bed.

Tentatively, she touched it.
And it moved. (And made a noise.)
So she beat it to death with her walking stick.

Now, we hand the hot water bottle to you after dessert - we felt it safer to remove the element of surprise!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Well, my mom said ....

As with many lodges, we have a child policy and we don't take little ones under the age of six years old.  Our age limit used to be eight, but we learned pretty early on that parents are quick and happy to lie by two years and were bringing their 6 years olds anyway. So we changed it a few years ago, and funnily enough, they don't lie anymore.
When the limit was eight, I was welcoming in a couple who had just arrived with their child.
"Hello," I said, to their very little boy, "what's your name? And how old are you?"
"Well," replied young Robert, "actually, I'm five. "But," he added secretively, "my mom says that this weekend, I can be eight!"
He was jolly proud. 
Out of the mouths of babes!
(His mother just sunk her face into her hands.)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

10 Things you need to know about going on a Game Drive

Seeing animals in their natural habitat is the main reason to visit a game reserve. 

For many there is nothing tricky about a game drive - just grab your camera, jump on the truck, and head on out.  But for some, it is a first time thing.
Our game drives go out for 3 ½ to 4 hours.  Departure times vary depending on the time of the year.  We have lovely new Land Rovers with individual (really comfy) bucket seats.

Our field guides carry with them:
·         .375 rifles (and are trained to use them, although have never had to do so out of their monthly practice sessions);
·         a comprehensive first aid kit;
·         extensive qualifications, knowledge and experience;
·         a fabulous sense of humour!
They will tell you the rules just before you go out.  

  1. DO Bring a camera (remember batteries can be charged at the camp) and a pair of binoculars;
  2. DO Wear a hat and sunglasses (and other weather appropriate clothing);
  3. DO Ask questions. You are in your guide’s world and this is what they do and where they shine;
  4. DO Remember to tell your guide what drinks to pack for you;
  5. DO Tell your guide if you need a comfort break – s/he will then find a suitable spot to stop.
  6. DO NOT  Have a list you are feverishly trying to tick off. Please just take each moment as it comes;
  7. DO NOT  Hang any limbs out of the vehicle, stand up, move around or get off the truck. Your guide will tell you when it is safe to do so;
  8. DO NOT  Try to communicate with the animals. Don’t click your fingers/call/whistle/shout or throw anything at the animals to attract their attention or get them to “do something”;
  9. DO NOT  Drop or leave any rubbish in the bush.  This includes toilet paper, apple cores, and cigarette butts - as the old saying goes: leave only footprints;
  10. DO NOT  Be anxious. Your guide will never put you in any situation where you are in danger.

Your game drive experience can be a quiet time of peace, meditation, contemplation and serenity. 
It can be a crazy time of adrenalin fuelled excitement.
No two drives are the same.
Get out there and enjoy every moment!!

Thanks to Clint Parsons for all these photos from one of his game drives with Jonny -
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