It is surprising to know the level of thought and organisation that goes into making a game drive a comfortable, exciting and an enjoyable experience. For the guest, they simply get on the vehicle, full of great expectations and wait to be thrilled. For the Lodge and the Game Ranger, there is so much that needs to happen beforehand that will influence what the experience will be for the guest. We thrive to ensure our guests always have a happy and memorable experience.
If you would have asked me two years ago if I would like to go on a safari holiday, I would definitely have said no. I loved my sun holidays, lying on a lounger or the beach and topping up my tan. That was before I met Maxine and Ian Smith, then everything changed.
I started helping Maxine out with some admin duties in my spare time (which I don’t have a lot of being a mum to 4 boys). Maxine and Ian were in the early stages of starting up a safari holiday business, to run a small but luxurious bush lodge called Nyumbani Estate Bush Lodge. So, luckily for me, I was practically there from the start and they welcomed my input on many things.
I then started doing their Facebook/Twitter posts and was blown away by how beautiful the images and videos of the animals, sunsets and surroundings were from their South African home and the new up and coming bush lodge. It felt like a get away from my world and often imaged myself sitting have some elephant milk, ‘Amarula’, in the bush, surrounded by nature. I didn’t know a thing about Safari when I first started helping out; except that animals like lions, tigers, elephants and rhino’s all lived in the jungle (as I would have called it). But I now know that it’s called the ‘Bush’ and that there are no tigers in South Africa. South African elephants have bigger ears that Asian elephants. Rhino horns are worth a lot of money, which is why they are so cruelly hunted. These are only a tip of what I have learned from Maxine and Ian and not from Google. Ian’s knowledge of the bush and his passion for it is very heart warming. They are one of the nicest couples I have ever met and can’t thank them enough for including me in their adventure.
I’ve still not actually been on safari yet, and can only imagine how it would feel to be sitting in a game viewer jeep with elephants, lions and any other animals that I will be lucky enough to see, being right next to me. I think a whole lot of emotions would pass through your body, fear – definitely being one of them, but, excitement rapidly taking over. It is my ‘big’ birthday next year, and Safari in South Africa at the beautiful Nyumbani Estate Bush Lodge is definitely on my things to do when I turn 40.
Sandra Stuart – Marketing Co-ordinator – Nyumbani Estate
Anyone who has ever known me will know of my phobia of spiders, my nervousness of small insects and basically any insect type creature with more than 2 legs, yes, that means most crawlers. You can imagine the utter shock within my family and friend circle when I announced, back in 2003, that I was embarking on a Voluntary Overseas Services (VSO) assignment for 2 years in Africa! This is where one literally puts a complete hold on their day-to-day life and existence to embark on a volunteer programme, earning a stipend, a small living allowance,and sharing whatever your area of professional expertise is. In my case, I was selected for my Business and Management skills in order to make strategic, operational and capacity building programmes which deliver sustainable positive impact within local communities.
As part of my preparation, I decided to do something about my fear, so, I attended a series of discussion groups conducted at Bristol Zoo Arachnophobia Course, where experts at the Zoo help people with extreme arachnophobia to overcome their fear of spiders through a combination of discussion, relaxation, hypnotherapy and education (learning about spiders). I can bear witness to the fact that I went from a hysterical screaming banshee to a very relaxed, and comfortable ‘with spiders’ person. At the end of the course, I was one of the many participants on the course who were eagerly waiting to hold, yes, you heard me ‘eagerly awaiting’ and ‘to hold’, a Tarantula. It is a memory I still hold today. My first surprise, aside from having one in my hand, was how furry and soft it was, in fact, it was beautiful. They are fascinating creatures and I remember the education process of the course replacing my absolute and irrational fear, with complete respect for the intriguing and complex biology of the arachnid. My journey to and from that course, which was conducted over a few sessions, involved me travelling some 3 hours and a stay with relatives, as I lived a way away. Believe me, it was worth every mile journeyed.
For me, it was an essential part of my preparation to move over to Africa for a period of time. My daily existence prior to that was having to live within a quick telephone dash of someone who would be able to simply drop everything just to respond to a regular hysterical phone call from a gibbering me as I screamed down the phone that I was about to be dragged out of the house, by my ankles, from the biggest, blackest, 8-legged beast I had ever seen my entire life, and, it was wearing Doc Martens! Yes, my preparation for my ‘African’ experience was life-saving. Most of my anticipation was in fear of the creepy, crawly things. Actually, it completely overwhelmed my thoughts of the mental preparation of some of the real issues. Fortunately, the VSO organisation provided a very comprehensive training and preparation process over a period of months to ensure everyone is physically and mentally prepared for the environment they were about to enter and the complex, diverse and challenging issues of working, living and coping in regions of dire poverty, deprivation, exploitation and in some cases civil unrest.
Preparation complete, I can honestly say, nothing and I mean absolutely nothing prepared me for all the other aspects of my experience. My destination remained undisclosed until the final weeks of my pending exit. My assignment was to work in the field of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This was my dream assignment, I considered myself so completely blessed to be given such an opportunity. This is because as a Black person born in the UK in the 1960’s and cutting my professional ‘teeth’ in the UK in the Insurance & Finance Industry and later in the field of Media, Publishing and Senior Executive Management; I had a keen interest in cultural and race related issues facing the diaspora of Black people throughout the world, from slavery to modern days. I had clear memories of the apartheid era of South Africa from all the media coverage we received in the UK and the extent of pure propaganda of both sides of the issues. Anyway, that is a completely different story for another time. Additonally, my relief was that they were not sending me to a ‘rain forest’ area as my imagination kept drifting off to that scene from Casablanca where Humphrey Bogart was hauling the ‘African Queen’ through leech dense waters in tropical heat, and he was covered in leeches!
Initially, I spent a lot of time in urban environments, this is where I experienced the ‘urban’ crawlers, things like Rain Spiders, Parktown Prawns and the like. For the first 6 months I was fine and considered myself completely healed of any phobias (although, I still believe that Parktown Prawns are still one of the ‘ugliest’ things I have ever seen, and that smell, gross)! I soon discovered my phobia had returned when I conducted rural project work in the various Provinces of the Country. So, for many years, as my 2-year assignment became 5 years. I simply learnt to ‘cope’ with my phobia. It most certainly did not stop me from going out to my very first safari in the Kruger National Park, an experience that was beyond words and something that stimulated many safari visits since. Ironically, I now live part-time in the ‘Bush’, which is the Lowveld area of Limpopo and the safari gateway of South Africa. My way of coping with both urban and rural living was to take the view of anything outside was fine, that was their space, and I was the visitor. However, anything within my home space was a ‘non-rent paying intruder’ and, had to be dealt with accordingly. I soon mastered the art of a near complete ‘creepy free living’ over the many years of my time in Africa. I found a way to strike a balance with nature, and some coping mechanisms, so that I could still enjoy the amazing and simply stunning beauty of the land, whilst not being exposed to venomous reptile or harmful arachnids. Living in the Bush took a while as I soon learnt that each season brought new experiences and climate swings (wet seasons and then droughts) bought with them various insect swarms. Whilst initially a being quite overwhelming, I soon learnt and understood the purpose of these things are all part of our existence on this earth, and, I educated myself of the role that each and every living thing has to play on this planet.
So far, I have spent over 10 years living in Africa, it is a Country I adore. I have learnt to embrace the amazing experiences of its wildlife, safari is and will remain one of the most wonderful and exhilarating experiences I have ever enjoyed, hence my choice to have a home and business in that environment. Having lived all my life with arachnophobia I recently embarked on a series of counselling sessions to breakdown why I have a phobia. This involved a process through ‘multi-level processing’ (MLP), which taught me how to identify my fear triggers, how to hold and process my fear, and, through that process, I learnt how to embrace and absorb that fear. I no longer hyper-ventilate when I come across large arachnids, or any of the creepies. I will never like the look of some of them though, simply because ‘I do not like the look of them’, not because they grip me with fear, because they no longer do. I will always apply caution around most of them, especially in hot or tropical climates, simply because some of them can bite, sting, or penetrate your skin/body and cause pain, suffering, or, in some extreme cases, death. So, common-sense prevails, I found myself yet again with a spider in my hand. Not a tarantula, but a nice big meaty black one and it was OK.
I now live my life in the knowledge that to some things, it is me that is really scary, I must be, because they hurry off and scuttle away as soon as they see me. No, I am not talking of my fellow humans (although saying that, there may be one of two who still do)! I am talking of my fellow earth creatures, the ones I have learned to live with, to put outside and not squash, vacuum or spray them. I have earnt an immense respect for most things that crawl around and because of that, my life is enriched by being able to live between two very rural and stunningly beautiful parts of the world in both Scotland and in South Africa, embracing nature, its wonderment, and its glory in both.
Maxine Smith – Director – Nyumbani Estate Bush Lodge, South Africa.
It is true to say there are many choices of places to stay for your safari experience, within Africa. We are pleased to be able to say that as it means we still have beautiful lands and lots of game and small creatures being sustained in these stunning natural environments.
The word “conservation” is defined as……. In the strictest sense of the word, a tourist on safari should have nothing to do with conservation, as the two are simply worlds apart. A tourist requires a lovely bed, fine dining, and a comfortable vehicle to view animals from. This will mean that the environment will have to be altered to build a permanent structure or structures in order to accommodate all of this. Roads will have to be built. Trees, grass and shrubs will have to be cleared to make way for the lodges. Water will have to be pumped into reservoirs, sewage will have to be disposed of, and of course all the refuse needs to be disposed of. The vehicles will burn fuel and cause fumes. All of this will have a major impact on the immediate environment and in effect heads in the opposite direction to conservation. However the reality is that without your love of animals and your desire to see them in their natural habitat, there would be no demand to protect these areas, and they would simply be swept away and wiped out in the name of progress. Without safari tourism money, there would be no employment for the local population and local communities would therefore struggle to sustain themselves. The animals would be hunted for the pot, and the land turned into agriculture. The money and demand created from safari tourism creates a need for conservation, to study and understand all the living creatures in an ecosystem, and the impact that any changes would have on them. Conservation helps us understand how to ensure all of this is managed and sustained for the enjoyment of generations to come whilst gaining knowledge and understanding of an environment rich in biodiversity. As a result, safari tourism and conservation actually go hand in hand, and it is seldom that the one can be mentioned without the other being considered.
Conservation is such a vast and widely diverse topic that one cannot even begin to try and embrace every aspect of the subject; from the studies of the tiniest microscopic insect that is restricted to a single tiny habitat, to the global effect of greenhouse gasses on our planet, and everything in between can fall under the category of conservation. We have concentrated on conservation within a safari environment in this introduction. The scope for expansion within this topic alone is vast, and can embrace the study of velvet mites, to the impact elephants have on a particular region during as a result of a severe drought, and once again, any one of millions of topics in between.
Written by Ian Smith – Nyumbani Estate
I was one of those urban folk, born on a pavement, living and working in a City, never having the time to explore the country I lived in and embrace the diverse outdoor lifestyle that is available in South Africa. This was until one day, leading up to Easter break after an exhausting first quarter working year. Having a chat with a business associate, I was asked of my plans for the Easter holidays. I struggled to answer him; I really wanted to get away and do something totally different to what I would normally do. My colleague suggested I go on a Safari, not only that, he picked up the phone, called a contact and bingo; my first safari trip was set in motion, we were all booked in to go to Bongani Mountain Lodge, Nr. Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
“I really wanted to get away and do something totally different to what I would normally do”
I had no idea what to expect, all my colleague cautioned me about was the evenings and mornings may be a bit chilly that time of year and to pack some warm clothing. Also, to pack my own set of binoculars, which is a piece of advice that I now pass on to others as the settings to get your bino’s to where you can get the best viewing takes a little time. Imagine the frustration for someone else to randomly pick up your bino’s and tweak them around to suit them and when you get that sighting moment, you pick up your bino’s and everything is a blur – very frustrating! That was the full extent of my preparations. I went into my first safari experience with no knowledge and no expectations.
In our booking instructions to the Lodge, we were given directions and told to be at the gate by midday. In our excitement, our route calculations were out as we planned to get there on time, but ended up arriving way early at 9am – so we had to entertain ourselves for 3 hours. We found a dirt road near the Lodge gate and went off exploring. It was great fun, having come out of the City to being in such a rural off-the-track surrounding was liberating, we had a great drive out and got back to the gate, on time.
At the gate we were told to park up and leave the keys of our vehicle with security, which we done. The resident Game Ranger arrived in a game viewer to take us through to the Lodge. Thus the beginning of our safari experience and our very first game drive ever taken. Being on an open vehicle knowing that out there, in the bush all around us we were amongst the Big 5. The feeling was exhilarating. We heard every sound with all the varieties of birds, beetles, frogs and animals; all singing us in as we ventured on the windy dirt roads to the main lodge. On arrival we received a warm welcome by the Lodge staff, was handed a refreshing face towel and given a welcome drink to refresh us from our journey. Once registered as guests, we were given a briefing on the do’s and the don’ts of the bush before being taken to our room, which was a luxury bush tent. That was the first of many ‘WOW’ factors, our cases were already there waiting for us. We had a good nosey around to check the place out and was impressed. We freshened-up, changed and headed back up to the main Lodge to embark on our first sunset game drive.
“Being on an open vehicle knowing that out there, in the bush all around us we were amongst the Big 5. The feeling was exhilarating”
The next WOW was the pure beauty of the African sunset, coming out of the City, you simply have no idea of the wonderments of the colours in the sky as the sun sets within a backdrop of nature. We had a chorus of bush sounds whispering in our ears as we looked into the sun as she set, toasting the evening with sundowner drinks, breathing that restful sigh that only a safari can stimulate. Now, this was Africa, I fell in love!
With sunset over, almost as soon as it began (never fails to amaze me how quickly the sun sets in Africa), the darkness set in and off we headed for our first night game drive, in search of the night predators. It wasn’t long before we came across our first experience of Lion. Heading through the reserve, the trackers spotted Lion spoor (paw prints of animals) and sure enough in the not too distant track ahead was a beautiful pride of 12 Lions (Lionesses with cubs and Lions). The first thing that struck us was the absolute sense of total power, utter confidence and domination that Lions exhume, without doubt, they are the Kings and Queens of the bush. We were mesmerised from then. We drove for hours, listening as young children would as their parents read a bedtime story; we were, all ears, all excited as we learnt of the animals of the bush. Needless to say, our sleep that night was a restful one, I am sure I went to sleep with a smile on my face and awoke with one too.
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn, washed, dressed and raring to head out to our first dawn game drive. The morning was fresh and still very dark. After some hot coffee and rusks, we headed out. We didn’t have to go far as right there, at the other end of the camp we were greeted by a large male Leopard, a beautiful specimen he was, so elegant in his posture, his movement, his presence. From that day, I have been besotted with Leopard; I crave to get sight of them. The scariest thought for me was, what if we had not taken seriously what the staff had told me in our welcome briefing and had ventured out for a morning stroll when we got up. We would have walked straight into that Leopard, what then – shudder down my spine moment. We continued on drive with our eyes peeled onto the ground looking for spoor and our eyes also peeled into the bush with our spotting torches seeking out any sign of movement. We were now well and truly bush crazy.
“We would have walked straight into that Leopard, what then – shudder down our spine moment”
We had only booked a three-night stay for our first safari and those days were so full with so many new experiences, so much knowledge and information. The Head Ranger of the Lodge was our Game Guide, which was a real blessing as he was so knowledgeable and so passionate about the bush. He knew everything and were we craving knowledge so it was a match made in heaven as he talked about everything he saw. He taught us how to survive in the Bush, talked about the trees, the small creatures that you would never even think to consider. He stopped for everything because in his opinion, everything was important, everything had its part to play and everything had an impact. Being a naturally inquisitive person, I was enthralled and hooked from that weekend, our first experience into the African Bush.
The evenings, if not out on a night game drive, generally consisted of being hosted by the Lodge team with delicious wholesome homemade Bush camp dining, washed down by some of the best of South African wines. What more could you ask for. We were due to be pampered on our last night with some ‘Bush entertainment’, however, sometime during late afternoon the entertainers had to cancel, which left the Lodge with an empty entertainment slot for their guests. True to form of ‘making a plan’ the team at Bongani were quick and between the staff, the Game Rangers and Management, they provided an evening of entertainment at the Boma (an outside coral surrounded by latte wood with a central large fire bowl). After supper we were entertained with an array of cultural singing and stories, which kept us well entertained into the early hours. I am sure the entertainment of that evening far outshone anything the paid entertainers could have provided, it was excellent, a perfect end to a magnificent trip.
On leaving, we were both exhilarated, yearning to learn more and wanting to own a piece of the bush – just for us. You could say I came away with ‘Bush fever’ as it is something I have never recovered from since my first weekend in the African bush – it is a fever I never wish to be released from, ever.
Written by Ian & Maxine Smith – Executive Directors – Nyumbani Estate
Buying a property in another country is not as unthinkable as some people make it out to be. Like anything else, when spending money you need to do your homework. Things like researching the opportunity, investigating the options, covering the practicalities, having a clear idea of costs etc., these are all key components to creating a success business plan. This type of property acquisition is what we refer to as a ‘live’ investment. There are many types of investments one can consider when it comes to property acquisition abroad. For this article, we are referring to the following:
- Owning a home in the sun
- Owning a home in a unique and exclusive setting – African Safari
- Low personal occupancy – not intending to have high occupancy of this home (periodic use only)
Let us explain,
To acquire a property that is (1) not in your base country and (2) not your primary place of residence; requires a range of support and protection assurances. These are realised in the following requirements:
These four factors are particularly applicable in foreign real estate portfolios as this requires hands-on property management and property services. Only then will it be possible for you to enjoy the benefits of acquiring a diverse property portfolio, increasing your net worth, and acquiring a lifestyle opportunity; all of this whilst having the comfort in knowing your investment is working for you without the need of your time or intervention. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear this all the time (I hear you saying). Listen up, we are not speculating here, this is a well tested working model were are talking about, here are the critical paths to a successful second home opportunity:
Location, location, location – when considering where to buy, there are some show-stoppers to apply to trigger the Yes or No button:
- Is this a high demand location?
- Is the land/property accessible?
- Is the building and building services affordable?
- Will the build quality be high?
- What are the land topography considerations? (An understanding of the fauna and flora)?
Legal & Tax Frameworks
- Is there a route to purchase by a foreign investor?
- Is there a robust legal system to uphold contracts and agreements?
- Are there favourable tax routes for this investment?
- What are the historical forex trends?
Service & Maintenance
- Are there any maintenance and service contracts for the management of the property and land?
- Is there a range of affordable labour options?
- Is the property maintenance and service costs affordable?
- Insurance options?
- Can the property pay for itself?
- Is there any commercial opportunities?
- What are the selling trends of properties?
- What are the development opportunities?
Is this an affordable opportunity for me?
- Do I have any surplus cash that I do not need to depend on?
- Can the investment be shared i.e. syndicate, consortium, partnerships?
- Is there any security available?
- What is the period(s) of investment?
- Is this a cash or mortgage/bond investment?
- Is this a trust fund or legacy opportunity?
As said in the introduction, if you take off any ‘rose tinted spectacles’ and apply a practical business approach to securing a second home abroad portfolio, the outline provided will create a clear road for you to make a worthy investment journey. In our experience, second home opportunities hold high value in providing investment, lifestyle, and life-changing considerations. Lifestyle trends within modern society dictate a living-to-work philosophy. We believe embarking on second home abroad portfolio affords you the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour whilst you are still fit and healthy to do so.
Maxine Smith – Executive Director – Nyumbani Estate