Congratulations to Penny Morris! She won a two nights & three days stay, enjoying Lalibela’s beauty, valued at R9000.00
enabling her to take 2 adults & 2 children on an awesome adventure.
The Tribe hopes you will create amazing memories.
Location: 90 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay on the N2 towards Grahamstown.
Date Visited: 12 – 14 October 2012 (Summer)
What we Drove: The Chrysler Grand Voyager, complements of Maritime Motors .
Where we Stayed: Mark’s Camp, one of the three four-star lodges in the Game Reserve, this one specifically designed with families and children in mind.
What we did: We had scrumptious food, awesome game viewing from open vehicles with knowledgeable guides & fantastic African entertainment alongside great conversation and time together. This time round we had the opportunity to meet the team behind the scenes & get a better feel of what motivates them, even getting some golden nuggets about life & business.
Recommendation: This is an amazing African weekend for a family who wants to do something very special. The proximity to Nelson Mandela Bay and the malaria free environment makes it especially wonderful when traveling with children. Lalibela comes highly recommended.
Website: Lalibela Game Reserve
We’ve experienced the luxury accommodation.
The exquisite safari cuisine.
The exceptional service.
The knowledgeable rangers.
The very helpful staff.
This time we experienced all of that along with the opportunity to get to know some of the people who created this & keeps it growing.
This time we made our way to Lalibela in the extremely comfortable Chrysler Grand Voyager.
As you get into this vehicle it is very evident that the interior was designed by Boeing.
Attention to detail, comfort & space is overwhelming.
It is a family vehicle.
The Tribe with our luggage & all of Maddi’s paraphernalia fitted into this vehicle with space to spare.
The media system, climate control & safety features are something we’ve not experienced.
The intuitive cruise control makes the 90 kilometer drive seem like a moment.
At reception we are welcomed by Marimba players & Xhosa singers serving high tea.
At Mark’s Camp, Lalibela’s Lodge, specifically geared towards families beautifully appointed rooms & personal service await.
Lalibela can accommodate 120 guests between its three lodges.
They employ 60 staff members.
You can imagine how personal & exceptional the service is.
Friday night we cook with Nomakaya & Evelyn.
Evelyn has just joined the team at Lalibela.
Nomakaya has been there for eight years.
While the kids peel vegetables & stir various dishes slowly frying in butter, Nomakaya tells us of her journey.
How she left for University after completing school.
How she did not have enough money to complete her studies.
How she found employment close to home.
Starting in the kitchen, washing dishes.
Soon making salads & learning the skill of preparing exceptional food.
The past four years she has been running the kitchen at Mark’s Camp.
Impressed with her own development at the hand of Linda, Lalibela’s Food & Beverage Manager.
Saturday evening we’re in for a surprise.
We’re out on a game drive.
The vehicle makes a stop at a huge ‘bush’ of indigenous trees.
Ranger Dave walks us into a fairy tale land.
Lanterns lighting our way to huge fires and magnificent food.
There we get to spend time with Linda.
She tells us of how she came from Port Elizabeth, where she was a lecturer, to Lalibela, where she discovered the joy of working with a team of ladies, collectively discovering the joy of creating tasty meals for travelers from every part of the world.
Lalibela is an exporter in many ways.
Without processing or packaging this game reserve takes South Africa to the world as foreign tourists come to be on safari.
Bringing valuable foreign currency to our shores.
And positive reputation.
At the ‘Bush Boma’, in the light of friendly lanterns we talk to a couple from England.
It is their first time at Lalibela.
They are blown away.
By the experience.
By South Africa.
They are resolved to come again.
A couple from Germany joins the conversation.
They’ve been to Africa before.
They’ve never tasted Africa as they’re tasting it tonight.
It is an experience about which they will talk for decades to come.
They take pictures as the Xhosa dancers entertain us.
Over supper an Irish couple speak of the troop of elephant they encountered.
About the pride of Lion they watched.
About the hippopotamuses & the giraffe.
They cannot believe how close they came to the animals.
How much of them they could experience.
Every single expectation has been exceeded.
‘Conservation is about much more than the animals,’ explained Vernon Wait, one of the owners, on Saturday afternoon as we spent some time at one of the swimming pools.
‘Conservation is about conserving & creating a livelihood. It is about conserving a way of life. It is about affecting our world. Positively.’
Lalibela was recently the victim of Rhino poachers.
‘You must understand, we tend these animals. We look after them. We know when they are ill or expecting. When one of them is hurt, we are hurt. It is like losing a child.’ Vernon explains .
Yet they continue.
Evil will always be there.
In this world.
Trying to prevent us.
Steal our hope.
The best way to defeat it is by forging ahead.
Always hopeful that our efforts would be more.
Earlier I went out Cheetah-tracking with Kelly, Lalibela’s Head Ranger.
A girl in a man’s world.
Heading up a team of male rangers.
Planning the wildlife management.
Care for patrons.
We track a female Cheetah who is new to the reserve.
She’s recently had cubs.
Kelly wants to check & make sure the cubs are healthy & well.
This is what a reserve like Lalibela does.
They make sure the conditions are optimal for wildlife to flourish.
As naturally as possible.
In a world in which urban areas expand relentlessly.
‘Tourism is our best product,’ explains Rick van Zyl, the founder of Lalibela over Sunday morning coffee.
We drove to Tree Tops, another exceptional camp to meet with Rick.
We wanted to hear his story.
Of how they came from the Merryman Hotel to Lalibela.
Of this place for which the bees have foretold greatness.
I am reminded that no business appears in a moment.
It takes years, decades even, to build a successful business.
Rick & his family worked since the early 1908’s before they had enough to purchase a piece of land which would be the seed of Lalibela.
Then they worked some more.
Often seeing it through, even if it seems it just cannot continue.
‘You need people around you,’ Rick explains. ‘I had built a network of relationships over thirty years. And you need a bit of luck. Someone who would believe in you. That is the only way. And persistence. And resilience. And the willingness to work and work and work some more.’
So often we listen to the stories of successful entrepreneurs & we think it was a stroke of luck or a moment of genius & they had they cake they could eat.
That is a lie.
It takes time.
To build a successful business.
It takes sacrifice as well.
‘We were fortunate in that there were quality boarding schools where our children could go,’ Rick says with a bit of reminiscence in his voice. ‘That freed us up to work every minute of every day.’
I sip my coffee and wonder how much I will be willing to sacrifice.
For that illusive success.
Perhaps we need to decide on that before we embark on the journey.
‘The journey is everything,’ Rick remembers.
‘The journey is exciting & enjoyable. You should savour it. It is new & fresh & exhilarating. The destination isn’t what life is about. It is about how you got there. Through all the challenges & obstacles & hope.’
I am on it.
For that I am grateful.
Perhaps we should not fret so much?
Perhaps each road has its own destination & all we can do is travel?
Perhaps how we travel is what counts?
And so we load the Chrysler Voyager at Lalibela, saying goodbye to foreign tourists & dedicated tourism operators, and head home on a different route.
Via Salem & Kenton-on-Sea.
In Salem we see the graves of many children at the Methodist Church built in the mid 1800’s by optimistic British Settlers.
How sad our journey can be?
Marked by graves along the way.