I thought I would veer off the topic of wildlife a bit and talk about other aspects of Londolozi life. A common question we get asked by our guests is what we get up to if we get a day off in our six-week cycle. Dropping guests off and only picking up a new set of guests the following day can mean we have a bit of down time but before we have too much fun, we do need to check two things first.
The first is whether or not we are on standby and secondly whether we have to do a transfer.
Both these jobs could require us for the most part of our day(s) off. The standby ranger needs to be available at any time of the day. They are basically a link between the lodge and the rangers out in the field on game drive. They may be needed to fetch guests that need to be brought back to camp early or help a ranger experiencing vehicle problems out in the field. A transfer may be linking guests between lodges or a drive to Skukuza airport. If we find that we are not expected to do either of these duties, our day can get very exciting!
Probably the most popular of activities is what is referred to as a Staff Bumble. This is where the free ranger takes the staff on safari. There are many staff that – although they work in a safari lodge – don’t actually get to go out on drives as often as they would like. So taking them out into the field to see the wildlife is often a stress relief for them and a booster for the environment in which they work. This is quite a social and relaxed drive and therefore doesn’t feel like work for the ranger either.
You would think that sleeping in is the next thing that’s top of the list but it’s not always the case. Catching up on some much-needed rest is always tempting but how could you miss a morning drive? After a quick coffee on the porches of our accommodation, a few rangers will usually jump into a vehicle and head out into the bush in the early hours of the morning. Mostly this drive consists of birding and educating one another on things we find interesting and have questions about from drives with guests. It’s a constant learning environment.
Walks. Bush walks are probably one of the most therapeutic experiences in the wild. Whether simply participating or actually leading the walk, it creates a sense of being like no other. More often than not we will go on long walks, discovering areas between the roads we drive so often and seeing the landscape from a different perspective.
Lastly, there’s always time for the Londolozi family. We always find ways to entertain ourselves. It may consist of a drink and some laughs at our Spaza shop while we watch Mama Lina hold a strong win at the pool table or a competitive game of Bananagram. If you happen to be off on a Friday afternoon, you are more than likely to be roped into doing a 3-kilometer run for Fitness Friday around our staff village.
As much as we love our jobs, a day off as a ranger is pretty epic. Embracing your work environment and the people in it is a large part of waking up happy to go work every day. And, on days off, the activities make us that much more grateful for being a part of the Londolozi family.