Assistant Manager Hayley Cooper gives her account of what it’s like to live on a game reserve. Read on for more.
I have lived in a Game Reserve for 7 years now and coming from the UK originally, I don’t think a much more opposite lifestyle is possible. Personally, I did grow up in a small village not close to a town, but it is still very different. For most Game Lodges to run efficiently all of the staff live on site, this is for a number of reasons but the main reason being when you work in the hospitality industry and provide accommodation for guests you do need to be on call 24/7.
It, of course, also would be impossible for every staff member to drive each day in and out of the reserve and live in the local town. This means we all live in a community together, but I guess its like all living in a very close knit village elsewhere in the world. At Kings Camp we are lucky enough that we don’t have to share rooms although some lodges do, we do share houses which have been divided so your neighbours are a bit like ‘room mates’.
My commute to work is a 1 minute walk which is a huge perk! No sitting in traffic for us. Another lovely perk is the ‘bush noises’ instead of hearing traffic, sirens, restaurants and bars. While we sleep we hear the calls of hyenas, lions, owls, nightjars and many others. I often see wild animals in and around my garden. A couple of days ago I could see a big herd of buffalo next to my house and we had a leopard in the Camp grounds last night so its very common for us to see a range of wildlife.
On occasion we do get some unwanted wildlife guests in our houses but this is not common and to be expected as we live amongst them.
I have many wildlife stories from my time living in the bush, one of the more recent ones was when I was on my sofa on my iPad, I had my door open to my garden as it was summer so very warm, and I saw out of the corner of my eye a shape come through the door. It was a Mozambique Spitting Cobra, so what did I do? I calmly got up and, first, and most importantly, picked up a big box which has 2 x baby squirrels sleeping inside (they had lost their Mum and I was raising them). They could have been what the snake had came for? I put them somewhere safe and then called my Manager to come and assist me in removing the snake who was now hiding behind a cupboard.
We simply guided the snake out of the house back into the garden with a broom and all went back on with our evening.
I think it’s also fair to say you can expect to have a Monkey at least try to enter your room at least once a week.
When you live in a Game Reserve you may miss being able to go to the shops or to a restaurant for dinner. We can still get into town but it is about 45 minutes to town and then 45 minutes back so it’s a lot of driving to go and buy a bottle of shampoo or go and get a pizza, therefore its important to try and plan what you will need until you next go on leave. I personally can happily manage my work cycle of 36 days and not feel the need to see shops and restaurants and simply make the most of this when I am on my days off (and eat a lot of pizza).
We also get to experience the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
However, if I had to choose just one thing that was the BEST aspect of living in the bush it would be getting to live so close to such a range of wild animals who so peacefully accept us into their homes. We are very lucky.
Words: Hayley Cooper
Photos: Grant Murphy