Whilst South Africa is in the fourth week of a nationwide lockdown, in an attempt to flatten the coronavirus curve, a very important handful of South Africans are lucky enough to be locked down in the bush, and we find it difficult to imagine a better place to rather be.
During unprecedented times, it is our character that sets us apart. Our resilience, our coping strategies and how we view change are factors that ultimately determine if we thrive during and after periods of chaos. One of the many things the Covid-19 pandemic will reveal is the strength of our organisational teams and our ability to stand united in the face of a crisis.
Our entire reserve is under lockdown and off-limits to the outside world. A few of our key team members continue their daily routines of maintenance, administration and ensuring our four five-star lodges are kept in pristine condition, while practicing social distancing and adhering to hygienic protocol. For the most part each of our Sabi Sabi team on the reserve are performing multiple duties to ensure the conservation status quo of this vital environment.
Our limited safari team head out on their normal safaris every morning and late afternoon, while keeping close contact with each other via radio communication, to capture sightings and bring the bush to life on our social media platforms. Our social media followers can do with a daily “escape” to the bush, and our team members brilliantly record how life in the bush is continuing, regardless of what the news headlines have to say.
There is certainly a different energy on these types of safaris. The rangers are unable to share and express their knowledge and interpretations with guests and are learning to adapt without their trusted teammates – the trackers at the front-line spotting tracks and animals. Nevertheless, our teams have adapted to the new conditions and now have more time studying all our fascinating inhabitants and upskilling their knowledge on the bush and photography expertise.
To some of our staff members, Sabi Sabi is a permanent home and a place to raise their children. The EleFun Children’s Centre at Bush Lodge remains open during lockdown and our lodge-based children use the facility as their home-schooling classroom.
The team regularly checks in with each other and gives support and encouragement to others ‘on the ground’ to keep morale high. Life without our guests is not the same and these testing times have certainly revealed what matters to us most. Sharing this incredible piece of wilderness with our guests is our purpose, and while we are unable to do so in person, we utilise technology to bring this biodiverse region to your homes. The daily sagas and intrigue of the bush are not under lockdown by any means, and its inhabitants motivate us to keep going and to conserve their environment so that they may continue their daily survival rituals.
When the time comes to open our doors, our amazing small team of staff who stood united in this time to upkeep our lodges and protect our reserve, will be the reason that we effortlessly welcome back the world to an unforgettable South African safari.