Sabi Sabi Newsletter - December 2008
Welcome Rain in October | New Landrover Fleet for Sabi Sabi |
Photographic Tuition Now Available on Safari
| Sharing Knowledge - the Old and the New | Fighting Fires | Sabi Sabi Introduces Chrysalis | New Earth and Bush Nature Spas | Adrian Steirn Gallery at Earth Lodge | First Soccer Season Comes to an End

Welcome rain in October

The first rains fell at Sabi Sabi in late October, signalling the end of the dry winter months and covering the reserve in the first green flush of summer. Even before the wet weather, Nature was preparing for the new season with many trees and plants showing tentative new growth, blossoms and fruit. The Marula trees turned green overnight, the Boerbeans burst into flower and Crinum Lilies pushed their way through the dry earth bringing a pink floral display to the bushveld.

Rangers have already seen some newborn impala lambs, births that usually coincide with the first rains. Wildlife sightings have been phenomenal throughout spring and early summer and the rains have attracted large herds of grazing animals - wildebeest, zebra, buffalo - onto the reserve's open plains, closely followed by predators. Lions seem to be everywhere, on the lookout for hunting opportunities; and leopards have been a daily sight during this time of plenty - one week yielded 16 separate leopard sightings.

Throughout this year guests have been especially thrilled to see wild dogs on the reserve. In the space of a few days a pack of dogs killed their prey right outside both the Earth Lodge and Bush Lodge car parks. Their status as an endangered species, their intricate social structure and incredible hunting success make wild dogs one of the most exceptional animals to see on a safari.

There has been great excitement with the migration of black rhinos into the reserve. Two black rhino sightings were a highlight in October - they are a lot rarer than the white rhinos that are encountered daily at Sabi Sabi. Rangers kept a respectful distance from the notoriously aggressive black rhinos, ensuring that guests had a clear but safe vantage point for these exceptional sightings.

All of the migratory birds have returned to the area after their winter sojourn in northern climes, with the distinctive call of the Woodlands Kingfisher echoing through the bushveld and the Wahlberg's Eagles once more taking up residence in their familiar nests.

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New Land Rover fleet for Sabi Sabi

Open vehicles are a vital ingredient in the Sabi Sabi safari experience. They allow guests completely unhindered views, along with that incredible frisson of excitement when coming close to wild game, and an exhilarating sense of being at one with the bushveld. Sabi Sabi has invested in a new fleet of Land Rovers, rugged vehicles that are designed for maximum comfort, safety and minimal environmental impact. Special filters on these diesel-powered vehicles make them both quiet and environmentally friendly, while better ground clearance allows for enhanced game viewing.

One vehicle has been specially designed to cater for the new photographic safaris on offer (see below), and all the new vehicles have comfortable buckets seats, extra leg room and central consol boxes for guests to store handbags, books and binoculars.

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Photographic tuition now available on safari

Every Sabi Sabi visitor leaves with a lifetime of treasured safari memories. Many also take away beautiful photographs of their time in the bush. In response to constant demand from guests, Sabi Sabi now offers photographic tuition on safari, with renowned wildlife photographers Chris van Rooyen and Albert Froneman. Well known for their photography of birds and animals, the duo from Afrimage has won numerous awards and accolades worldwide; and now offers a hands-on introduction to photography. They accompany guests on their safari, showing them camera set-up, the principles of wildlife photography from a vehicle and step-by-step guidance at sightings. Back at the lodge, they explain computer processing of images, a critique of the day's work and ways to maximise the shots taken. Click here for more info

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Sharing knowledge - the old and the new

Rangers play a vital role in the Sabi Sabi guest experience, and ongoing ranger and tracker training is a core Sabi Sabi philosophy.
Eugene Fuhri, Sabi Sabi's safari manager, was recently appointed manager of Ranger and Tracker training and development. Eugene has a wealth of experience in the safari and conservation fields, and has implemented a number of programmes to facilitate ongoing, practical training for all guides.

Recognising that the older guides have a wealth of bushveld knowledge and information, plus an in-depth understanding of guest expectations that comes with years of experience - but realising as well that the newer recruits bring with them fresh ideas and a different viewpoint - Eugene has implemented innovative knowledge sharing workshops between the old guard and the new boys on the block. Harnessing everyone's passion for the reserve and its wildlife, together they all share wisdom, skills and information which they will carry with them on safari. Sabi Sabi's guests will benefit greatly from these fascinating workshops.

Ongoing research projects also form part of this programme. Rangers are allocated an area within the Sabi Sabi reserve and a particular wildlife species to research. Their findings make for interesting discussions and are of great use to the conservation team.

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Fighting fires

Fires occur naturally in the bushveld and are a vital part of the 'circle of life'. In order to emulate this natural process, game lodges often plan controlled burns as a part of their conservation programmes. Just before the first rains this season, a huge uncontrolled fire swept through the northern section of Sabi Sabi as a result of a lightning strike well north of the reserve. With fire fighting efforts hampered by strong winds and everybody concentrating on the northern area, another fire broke out near Earth Lodge. The fire fighting team raced in that direction to extinguish the new blaze. With controlled back burns, great expertise and huge commitment, it took a full 16 hours of fighting the fires by almost every Sabi Sabi staff member before the blazes were extinguished. Group Operations Director, Rod Wyndham, described the 'night of the fires' as one of the most challenging of his career. It was also the worst fire in Sabi Sands history. The dedication and teamwork displayed by the Sabi Sabi  team ensured that guests, staff and the lodges were safe at all times. The burnt areas of the bushveld have responded quickly to the first rains with fresh green shoots evident everywhere.

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Sabi Sabi introduces Chrysalis

Each of Sabi Sabi's four lodges is now offering the exclusive Chrysalis range of amenities in their suites. The range, designed to pamper, indulge and delight the senses with its gentle yet luxurious products, includes soaps, creams, shampoos and fragrances. The beautifully-appointed en-suite bathrooms at all the lodges are a haven of luxury, with enormous baths, indoor and outdoor showers and innovative décor matching the individual lodge themes.
Whichever the lodge, the Chrysalis Collection is the perfect fit.

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New Bush and Earth Nature spas

Amani (Swahili for "peaceful") takes over the running of Sabi Sabi's spas in December, promising a full range of exclusive, luxury treatments and therapies. Specialist therapists will offer treatments in the Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge spas using the Africology range of natural products developed locally. Exciting developments are in store for both spas in 2009.   

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Adrian Steirn Gallery at Earth Lodge

Earth Lodge is featuring an exhibition of work by renowned wildlife photographer, Adrian Steirn. Best known for highlighting unusual aspects of everyday sights, Adrian Steirn found inspiration at Earth Lodge and has created exquisite canvases from his photography. His work includes a stunning angle of a cheetah at rest, a dead tree against the unending sky and a giraffe head in minute detail. The unusual use of light and colour make the images a collector's dream. Limited pieces - a maximum of 30 per image - are on sale at the Earth Lodge gallery. A full gallery display will be on the Sabi Sabi website shortly.

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First soccer season comes to an end

The Dreamfields soccer project that launched at Sabi Sabi earlier in the year has had its first successful soccer season. The children, with their Sabi Sabi sponsored equipment and uniforms, made wonderful use of the new gear. Teams, officials and Sabi Sabi organisers are all delighted with the progress so far and are looking forward to the 2009 season.

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Message from the Marketing Director

2008 has been characterised by global turmoil in the financial markets, extreme weather phenomena and power shifts in governments. Amidst these challenges, we at Sabi Sabi are given a daily perspective by the timelessness of life in the bush. The sun rises every morning, the animals and birds go about their daily search for food and water, and the sun sets (spectacularly) every evening.

I would like to thank you for your continued support and look forward to our facing 2009 together.

As the year end approaches, we wish all of our friends health, happiness, rest, safety and all good wishes for the New Year.

Jacques Smit, Marketing Director

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