What brought you to Rhino River Lodge?
A colleague of mine heard of an opening at Rhino River Lodge and put our names forward. We were then in contact with Dale for an interview and because he sounded so nice over the phone I didn’t hesitate! When driving through the reserve to get to the lodge I kept thinking about how exciting this adventure would be living and working in a big 5 game reserve and then met with Dale…He was so genuine and down to earth, I figured I hit the jackpot with bosses and from that moment on I was sold! I have been here for almost 2 years now and have never looked back!
What is your favourite part of your job?
The quality control part of things where I have to occasionally taste the lodge food! Hahahaha, no I'm kidding! There are so many reasons not just one, I am a people person though and through - so meeting new people everyday from all over the world. I keep learning new things from each of them and making friends as I go along. I am most happy when guests leave happy, but doing small gestures for our guests and seeing their shocked yet ecstatic faces when they see it is so rewarding and by far the best feeling. I have also always had a passion for animals so as a bonus is getting to partake in things in the reserve occasionally, with helping animals and of course joining on the Game drives.
What is your favourite part of living in the bush?
There are so many different perks to living in the bush so it's difficult to put my finger on one…..The most obvious ones that come to mind is firstly the peacefulness. Coming home after a days work sitting on the porch with a glass of wine and hearing nothing but birds and crickets (and occasionally the lions). Having the wildlife walk through my “garden” and being able to walk amoungst the wildlife and to be able live this incredible experience with my partner is the cherry on top. Another worry off the list is that the only Road blocks I have to worry about are animal ones. Lastly all the unexpected encounters with wild life in your house!
What is your best memory at Rhino River Lodge?
Well that’s an easy one. The hyena dart that took place! Hyenas are my absolute favourite animal and one of the other rangers had spotted one with a snare around her neck. Because it was human interference that cause the injury the reserve chose to dart the hyena and remove the snare. She was denning on Rhino River Lodge property and after the vet staked out her den for two nights. On the 3rd night he radioed and said he had darted her and she had run off into the thick bush. Dale offered for me and other staff members from the lodge to join him and assist in finding her. As hyenas are nocturnal animals we were looking for her in the dark, after about 40 minutes of looking for her from the vehicle, Dale suggested we all got off the cruisers and started looking for her on foot. Me being me, I didn’t hesitate and just got walking-not wearing anything close to bush shoes (only a pair of pumps) and no proper torch (only the flash light from my cell phone). Kyle and I went in a different direction to the others to cover more ground. Eventually Dale had said I should get back onto the cruiser and check if I can see her again so Kyle was escorting me back to the road where I would find the vehicle and, low and behold, we found her “sedated” under a tree! Once the reserve manager got to our location, she placed her hand in front of the hyenas mouth to check that she was still breathing. Kyle picked her up by her head and shoulders and someone else picked her up from the back, as the hyena’s bum touch the back of the cruiser because the vet was already operating on her. She awoke and stood right up with her head and mouth about 3 centimetres from Kyles face! She was very groggy so she fell back asleep and the vet gave her a top up of sedative. Finally the vet got the snare off that had grown into her skin but luckily the wounds were superficial. She was then taken off the cruiser and treated for her wounds and left to wake up. It was by far the best experience I've had in my life (let alone just at Rhino River Lodge) and I will cherish that memory forever!
What should guests coming from abroad know about South Africa?
That not everywhere is South Africa is the wild bush-not everyone in South Africa needs to watch out for Lions when checking their post or watch out for Crocodiles when taking a swim! They should know that there is so much diversity in South Africa, so much to experience and learn about. For example, South Africa being a rainbow nation, its not because of colour - its about the vast amount of different cultures that are irrevocably, absolutely mind blowingly amazing and should they get the chance to experience it first hand they should. Along with local or traditional cuisine, try the food from the side of the roads – it will blow your mind. And lastly our heritage sites, not necessarily our World heritage sites that are posted and advertised everywhere, but the little hidden gems and sites that South Africa possesses.
If you could give guests coming for their first safari three tips or suggestions, what would they be?
- Pack for every season and occasion, you never know what could happen in Wild South Africa.
- Slow down, you not going to be here forever, so soak up everything you can! Soak up your surroundings, the sounds, sunsets and sunrises and just appreciate them through your eyes sometimes, and not always through a camera lens – Cameras are still important but sometimes you need to just take it in fully.
- If it is your first time, try and not book yourself up too much, you will be more exhausted by the end of your trip then you did when you started! Pick a few things that you really want to do and do them…While you are here you can see what other things you could possibly do for your next trip and you could do some more research on the other things. We could advise you better than google could, as we have experienced it first hand most of the time. If you try and squeeze it all into one trip you will not enjoy it and appreciate it as much as you could have if your schedule was not so busy.