We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.Winston Churchill
When we first meet our students, on the arrival day of a course, we say: “Welcome to our home, it is now YOUR home for the next 2 weeks”, and we mean it! I am blessed to have been brought up in, and then also marry into, an Afrikaans household. Afrikaans mothers are very particular about receiving guests properly, and making them feel welcomed and at home. I am proud to say that my hubby, Geran, and I, (and of course our 2 daughters), are pretty good at it after 11 years, and the proof is in the pudding, because there are so many past students that just keep coming home to us, year after year.
So I thought I would let you all know the “ins” and “outs” of the lodge, how it is run, what you can expect, tell you about our staff, about our catering, about the house rules, etc., so that you already feel welcome and at home, even before you arrive 😉
- You will be staying in a large shared accommodation unit called “Africa House”.
- There are 2 large rooms, aptly dubbed the Elephant room and the Rhino room. They each sleep 5 people, and each have a large ensuite bathroom with a shower, basin and toilet. There is ample cupboard space for all your clothing, ceiling fans, and a desk & dresser. We also supply a hairdryer and mosquito spray.
- There are also 2 smaller rooms, the Lion and Leopard rooms, and they each sleep 2 people. These rooms each have 2 single beds and an ensuite bathroom with a shower, basin and toilet. And again, there is ample cupboard space for all your clothing, ceiling fans, and a dresser. We also supply a hairdryer and mosquito spray.
- The linen in all our accommodation is white, (so please help us keep it that way), and we supply lovely warm blankets on all the beds, just in case. I doubt you will need said blanket as we supply warm duvets in all the rooms. NB: Please don’t remove your blanket from your room to side at the fireside!! We do supply blankets for that at the lodge.
- Lecturers and special guests/facilitators are accommodated in the 4 main lodge rooms closer to the dining area.
- Africa House has a large living area in the centre of the rooms, with couches to relax on, as well as a microwave a coffee station for your convenience.
- Your rooms will be service daily by our staff.
- Due to the fact that we do not have sufficient water on the farm, we do NOT offer an in-house laundry service. We send it to a reliable laundromat in town, on the first Friday of the course, and have it washed, ironed and folded for a minimal fee of R200 Per 5kgs per person. Guys, do the math, that works out to about $13.50 per person. It’s not expensive.
- There is a “safe cupboard” in African House for your valuables, and they can be locked away in it whilst you are out in the field. NB: We do NOT take responsibility for ANY of your belongings. Your stuff is your own responsibility.
- If you decide to take your valuables, (camera/phone/I-Pad), with you during captures/outings, make sure to lock them in the bus or carry them with you.
- We are under permanent water restrictions due to water shortages over the last 7 years. Please be mindful of the amount of water you use. No symphonies to be composed in the shower please, keep it short and sweet 😉
- I have worked very hard over the past 11 years to provide good, wholesome meals. I am the head chef, and you will be eating food made from my personal recipes, which my wonderful staff have perfected over the years.
- YOU MUST MAKE US AWARE OF ANY DIETARY RESTRICTIONS! (Vegetarian/gluten free/lactose intolerance). You will be charged a minimal fee of R800 per person, (roughly $55 US), for the duration of the course. Gluten free alternatives and lactose free alternatives are very expensive. And if we have to prepare a separate meals or you, it takes time and effort.
- WE DO NOT CATER FOR VEGANS! We simply live too far out of town, and vegan food is simply painful to prepare when you cannot get hold of vegan ingredients. I have made allowances in the past, to allow vegans on the courses, who accept that they will need to bring their own snacks, and be happy with the fruit and salads we provide.
- My staff work very hard to prepare the meals and service the rooms daily, and it is very important to us that our guests are happy, so a “please” and “thank you” go a long way.
- When you are out in the field on a capture/outing, we provide packed lunches which are more than sufficient to keep you going all day. These packed lunches will include things like boiled eggs, pasta salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit, a juice box and a snack. We pack the lunchboxes in a cooler which travels with you on the bus. PLEASE, bring your lunchbox back to the lodge in the evenings, don’t leave it in the bush.
- We stock beers, wines, hard-tack and mixers and cool drinks.
- Our bar tender will keep the bar open until 21h00 on weekdays and 23h00 on weekends. It’s not a good idea to party too hard if you have an epic wildlife capture, in the blazing African sun, the following day.
- We will run a tab for you for the duration of the course, which you will need to settle on the departure morning. You can pay using either your credit card or ZAR.
- Please remember to tip my staff on the departure day, they work hard for you and deserve personal remuneration. It is essential that you understand that we pool all the tips and divide them equally to avoid any interpersonal problems between our staff.
- We have a pool table, dart board and fireplace in the bar, and a large communal fire area just outside the restaurant where you can relax and socialise in the evenings, after dinner.
- Please try to leave your I-Pad and phone in your room at dinner. This is the time for social interaction and we want to get to know you. All too often people obsess over their devices at dinner time, instead of enjoying and participating in the moment. You will have plenty of time, when you go home, to update your social media.
- We do have free Wifi at the lodge.
- It does act up from time to time, but we have a good service provider considering the fact that we are remotely located, far from town.
- You will be given the Wifi code on arrival day.
- This is where you will be receiving your lectures.
- Located just outside the restaurant.
- There is a coffee and tea station in the restaurant for refreshments during lectures, available throughout the day. We also provide fresh fruit and lovely cakes/biscuits.
- There is a filtered water system at the bar to refill your water bottles. (You can ask our barman for ice to cool it, if you wish).
THE DARTING RANGE
- On Day 1, Intro Day, you will have lectures in the morning on African Wildlife Ranching. Later we cover species, basic capture techniques and safety in the field.
- After a scrumptious lunch you will proceed to the darting range for hands on lessons and demonstrations on the various darting systems, followed by a friendly darting competition amongst yourselves. The winner will receive a lovely bottle of South African wine.
- Safety will be discussed at length. Never point your dart gun at another student, and no firing when we are retrieving darts from the targets.
OUTSIDE THE LODGE
- You are welcome to go for a jog, but please stick to the roads.
- Please only use one earphone whilst jogging, so you can hear oncoming vehicles.
- You are welcome to go for walks if you have a little downtime, but, again, stick to the roads.
- You are welcome to assist us at the Shire Moon stables in the afternoons if you have downtime, feeding and grooming the horses.
- There are several families residing on the farm, and the private residences are out of bounds.
- We WILL take you for sundowners on one of our mountains, where you can enjoy the views and relax after a busy day. Many memories have been made during sundowner sessions, we hope you create some when you are here, that you will hold in your heart forever.
THE VETERINARY LAB AND BOMAS
- You will be spending a bit of time up at our lab and bomas. At all times be alert, we do from time to time have buffalo/lions and they are not too keen on a noisy people. We respect their natures and therefore keep the noise level to a minimum.
- Always leave the lab they way you found it, or better. We appreciate having helping hands to tidy once you are done with a post-mortem or a day in the community. Boxes are to be repacked, equipment cleaned, syringes disposed of, etc. The day is not done until we are prepped for the following day!
SHIRE MOON STABLES
- We have 10 horses, that we love with all our hearts. They are the majestic spirits that make up Shire Moon.
- We have 2 grooms: Tom and Coolboy who are permanently employed to look after the horses, when we are stretched a bit thin between our businesses and children.
- You are welcome to visit our horses anytime, and we would appreciate help at the stables if you have downtime, either with grooming/inoculations/feeding.
- You are welcome to join us for an outride, but either Geran or I MUST be with you.
- We are currently busy backing the last 3 horses, hopefully they will be ready when you get here.