Heart of a Lion…

¨ Even if mountains will be put in your way,

The only thing which counts is a strong will

And a heart like a lion

Nothing will be unreachable then

and respect will be your companion…¨ – Petra Yasmeen

A strong will, bravery and fearlessness are spreading throughout the Kalahari, when the resident male lion´s roar awaken you at dawn. The cool, crisp air amplifies the sound. The earth is trembling in his near vicinity. The King of Deception has spoken!! Somewhere in the near shrubs, the lionesses and cubs are obligingly answering. It is time to wake up, get encouraged by that tremendous voice and fill your heart with lion essence!!

The renovations and rebuilding of the lodge are going full steam. However, just as with any other big project, a few challenges do arise every now and then. It were truly a very interesting and adventurous two weeks. The men are hard at work with passion, pride and bravery. Their never- ending dedication is truly contagious. One just feels like jumping in and become part of this amazing task. And that is exactly what is happening!! Family, and friends from far and wide are coming to assist us, all investing a bit of their own personality and love into, not only the lodge, but the whole area.

We are so privileged to have such loving, caring souls to help us. Jeroen Leyendeckers, has become one with the Kalahari by now, and even had a rather interesting encounter with the lions, which kick started his own lion heart He is from the Netherlands, and has excellent carpentry skills. His assistance with putting in doors, and rebuilding the main building´s roof, is tremendously appreciated.

Then, there is Jamal Attari, one of the owners, and his friends Benjamin and Roman. These guys had a project of uplifting the staff village a bit. They have put care, creativity and love into it. After all, what will we be without our hard working and reliable staff members? So, we decided to renovate their area too. Benjamin and Roman, are assisting Jamal in all tasks possible, even loading and transporting the old furniture over long distances. Also coming from the Netherlands, and being in Southern Africa for the first time, they are receiving an unforgettable experience, not only of the wildlife, but also the ¨behind the scenes ¨ operations at a safari lodge. It is not everyday that you can have dinner, while lions are roaring in front of you!!

Jamal has another very important task, in designing and building the new Boma area. This area will provide our guests with an exquisite and authentic Botswana experience. You, as the guest, will be able to dine under the stars, indulging in local dishes with a twist and afterwards relaxing with a glass of Amarula Liqueur staring into the magical, dancing flames of the fire, and listening to crickets. With the expertise of looking after an amazing hotel in Morocco, Jamal is without any doubt the perfect man to provide us with a place you can absorb the warm Botswana hospitality.

Bravery has been tested quite a few times, over the past days!! Africa made it clear, once again, that she is not willing to accommodate the fainthearted. Not only do the men work in the harsh Kalahari sun, but also constantly get bitten by the mosquitoes. There is a huge respect for them.

The one day, while improving the big waterhole in front of the lodge, Sibanda and his team, encountered a 2.3 meter Snouted Cobra. A Snouted Cobra actively hunt its prey during the day and is rated as extremely dangerous. It feeds on rodents, birds, their eggs and especially toads, but is fond of eating snakes, including the Puff Adder. It is not an aggressive snake, but if cornered will stand its ground and form an impressive hood. It can exceed 2.5 m in length. The venom of this snake is both neurotoxic and cytotoxic and may cause some tissue damage. Bart Kramer and Braam Badenhorst, with their phenomenal knowledge of the veld, came to the rescue, in relocating the snake.

Somehow, another snake also decided to make its appearance. Bart found a Puff Adder at one of the building sites, doing some inspection. The Puff Adder is widespread over much of Southern Africa and elsewhere further north into Africa. It is a heavy-bodied snake that relies on its excellent camouflage and is reluctant to move. It is an ambush hunter that will coil up into a striking position and await its prey. Puff Adder venom is potently cytotoxic, causing severe pain, swelling, blistering and in many cases severe tissue damage.

Late one evening, after expecting Alwyn, the designer, he still hadn’t arrived. With no cellular reception in the wilderness, the only means to communicate, if you are in trouble, is via Satellite Phone. Once again, we realized how critically important it is, to take one with you on your journey through the widespread Kalahari. Alwyn experienced some vehicle problems, and was grounded for a few hours under the picturesque heavenly skies. It is not wise to get out of your vehicle at night either, as you may never know from where a inquisitive lion may be watching. Bart and Jamal were again the saviors of the day!!!

These are some of the stories we will forever remember, and laugh about later on. Like it is said, laughter is infectious and so is a positive and bright outlook on life. The team spirit at the lodge is astonishing at the moment, and often, you will hear laughter travelling through the air. Between all the work, the men are enjoying what they do, and make some time for fun. One of our employees, let the kid in him come out, and slid down the thatch roof like someone playing in a joyful park. He was not the only one, who decided to have a bit of innocent fun. The lion cubs, who are really growing up way too fast, decided to help themselves with some patio furniture. Obviously, they are also inspired to renovate a bit, although their way of renovation gets a bit rough and you find white cushion fluff flying around everywhere. They were definitely determined to incorporate a new look!!

It is time to go and take a walk in the best place on earth, to see the progress going on at the main building. While walking down these beautiful walkways, you get the feel of magic happening around you. Small, delicate flowers are scattered among the tall grass. Some of these include the Wild Foxglove and Benghal Blue Wandering Jew. Then there are the small dainty birds, coming down to feed on the seeds of the Puku Grass. The Violet-eared Waxbill has breathtaking colouring for such a small bird, and not to forget the Shaft-tailed Whydah.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – March 2015 ...

With a new week ahead, come and join us in spirit. Fill your heart with that lion essence and enjoy all the adventures and beauty that life brings you!

Be Brave, ROAR!!!

Janie Swart

Lodge Manager