Sabi Sabi Newsletter
December 2009
Sabi Sabi

Through The Eyes Of Sabi Sabi Rangers

Elephants, elephants everywhere…..

Nadia Schoeman

It was one of the most amazing mornings to wake up to - from the time I left my house I had a feeling that this was the day for something special to happen.
At the time I was driving an exclusive vehicle at Earth Lodge; my guests were seasoned travelers who had been on safari many a time before. For them just being out in the bush, breathing and smelling the fresh air was more then enough and everything else was considered a bonus.
During our morning drive we stopped to do some bird watching; and a cup of steaming coffee seemed the perfect ingredient to add. While observing a Yellow-billed Hornbill in a nearby Knobthorn tree, my tracker Henry, who was preparing the morning coffee, alerted me to the low rumbling sound normally made by elephants when communicating within a herd.
Not wanting to take any chances we decided to make our way back onto the Land Rover, coffee in hand, and wait to see what might be coming our way. Slowly but surely more and more rumbling could be heard, accompanied by the occasional breaking of branches. Within fifteen minutes of boarding the vehicle we were completely surrounded by elephants. There must have been at least forty of the world's largest land mammals all around us.

Dreamfields and Sabi Sabi

There was no talking, no vehicle engine running - just the sound of elephants "talking" and feeding, providing us with the most incredible insight into elephant behaviour. The matriarch approached our vehicle, closely followed by two of her sisters, as relaxed can be - moving closer and closer to us; trying to establish who or what we were and if there was any reason to worry. Once satisfied that we were no threat to her or her family she turned away from the vehicle and continued feeding, slowly making her way past the Land Rover, close enough for us to count the wrinkles on her trunk.
At the back of the herd, some adolescent male elephants were establishing a hierarchy through mock fighting, pushing each other all over the place; not at all fazed by the dark green obstacle parked less than twenty meters away. The rest of the adult herd members slowly followed the matriarch past us, with one or two of them giving a quick glance in our direction. It was difficult to decide who was watching who.

Just when we thought all was done a tiny grey bundle clumsily emerged from a Silver Cluster Leaf thicket closely followed by the imposing figure of his mother. Ears still flat against his body and hair everywhere, he was no older then two weeks at the most, but with the attitude of a fully grown elephant bull. The young calf stumbled past the vehicle as fast as his little legs could carry him, with mom a couple of steps behind - constantly keeping an eye on the vehicle.
Just as quickly and unexpectedly as they arrived, they were gone, disappearing into the bush accompanied by the fading sound of low rumbling noises. Who could have foreseen that stopping for an often seen Yellow-billed Hornbill would provide me with arguably, so far the best elephant sighting of my career as a field guide.

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Three Exciting New Programmes For Guests

Visitors to Sabi Sabi now have access to three exciting new programmes, adding a new dimension to their safari experience.

Shangaan Community Tours

Constant requests from guests to explore and experience first-hand some of the rich heritage of the local people has led Sabi Sabi, in co-operation with the residents and Village Elders, to establish tours to the neighbouring communities. During these visits, guests can gain a wonderful insight into the local history, culture and daily life of real Shangaan villages. Private homes, schools, sports facilities, arts and crafts industries and community centres form part of the fascinating and educational tours.

Many of the places visited have links to Sabi Sabi either through being the homes of staff or their family members, or through being facilities directly supported by the company over many years. All proceeds from the small fee levied to guests go directly back to the community.
Read more about Shangaan Community Tours

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Expert Wildlife Photographic Tuition

Wildlife photography is incredibly rewarding, and what a joy it is for our guests to go home with their safari memories captured in beautiful images. Photographic safaris have been a consistent request by the avid photographers who visit Sabi Sabi's pristine environment, and we have found just the right people to lead the courses.

Presented by renowned wildlife photographers Albert Froneman and Chris van Rooyen, the programme includes theoretical instruction, practical coaching during game drives and, between safaris, lessons on the computer processing of images are given in the comfort of Sabi Sabi's 5-Star lodges. Informal discussions and critiques of the day's work give useful hints and ideas to guests wishing to capture the perfect shot. The courses are suitable for photographers of all levels and can be tailored to individual requirements.
Click here for further details

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World class safari meets world class golf

And now some exciting news for golfers……… The latest programme to be introduced allows visitors to play a round of golf at South Africa's top rated golf course, Leopard Creek.

The beautifully designed, highly exclusive course has opened its doors to Sabi Sabi guests, who have the option of traveling there by helicopter, charter flight, or by road through the Kruger National Park. Leopard Creek is superbly laid out and, being located in a wildlife area, golfers regularly encounter an array of animals meandering across the course.
Read more about this offer by clicking here

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SPOTLIGHT ON … The Mkansi Family

Siblings Lawrence, Phios and Lindiwe Mkansi have for decades called Sabi Sabi home. Growing up in the nearby village of Huntingdon, all three dreamed of working at a private game reserve. And while each of them has followed a different path, they share a passion for ongoing learning, working with people and being in the bush.

An excerpt from his history, recently written by Lawrence, reads as follows:
My name is Lawrence Mkansi and I was born east of Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. The family moved when I was only a year old to the village called Huntington, which borders the Sabi Sand Wildtuin where Sabi Sabi is situated.
When I grew up I heard all good things about Sabi Sabi, so it was my dream to find myself working there. I joined the company in 1995 as a gardener and night watchman; and from then I became a waiter for a year at Bush Lodge, then bartender for about three years (eventually head bartender at Bush Lodge). However, my passion was always to work as a tracker and become a ranger. In 1999 I went to Selati Camp where I started as a tracker. I was very privileged because I had the opportunity of working with Grant Hine. Grant, who was my manager, is today CEO of FGASA (the Field Guides Association of South Africa,) and I learnt a lot from him. I worked as a tracker for only a year and two months before I became a ranger (or guide).

In mid 2001 I moved to Earth Lodge, our most exclusive lodge and in mid 2005 I returned to Bush Lodge where I was one of the senior rangers.
At the beginning of 2006 I became assistant head ranger at Bush Lodge where I started to learn more about management and more responsibility in addition to being a guide. I was also involved in recruitment - appointing new safari members. Another opportunity came early 2007 where I was appointed assistant lodge manager at Bush Lodge, a position I still hold today.
In conclusion I would like to thank Sabi Sabi for everything they have done for me. I am what I am today because of them and I think there will be still more opportunities coming my way; and I will always be awaiting new challenges. Everything is possible for me and I'm looking forward to learning more and getting better every day. Sabi Sabi makes sure there are opportunities for everyone."
Lawrence Mkansi

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The World Cup 2010 is less than a year away!

Limited space is still available at Sabi Sabi for the duration of the 2010 World Cup; and as final qualifiers are decided and the schedule finalised, a surge in demand is expected. Contact Sabi Sabi reservations +27 11 447 7172 or for up-to-date information about bookings at this time

Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism

Sabi Sabi has once again been named a finalist in the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism (October 2009). These annual awards recognise properties that go the extra mile in ensuring that all areas of tourism - from conservation to labour practices - are responsibly managed. The categories in which Sabi Sabi has been nominated as finalists are "Best Social Involvement Programme" and "Best Overall Environmental Management Systems".

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