When friends become family

&Beyond addict and long-time friend, Barbara, recently enjoyed her 12th safari with us…

Our guests really do say it best and we absolutely love hearing from them about their &Beyond experiences. The standout golden thread that inevitably seems to weave its way through many of the guest testimonials we receive is the people and how they genuinely make each guest feel like family.

There is a famous quote from the late poet/author Maya Angelou. She said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This will always remain at the core of what we do; we delight guests to make a difference.

&Beyond addict and long-time friend, Barbara, recently enjoyed her 12th safari with us. Her South Africa safari experiences, which started back in 2005, have clearly left an indelible mark on her heart, and as you’ll see in her story below, it is in large part due to the long-lasting friendships she has forged with many &Beyonders along the way.

Barbara, you are part of the family and we look forward to welcoming you back for your lucky #13 safari with us next year.

“I [recently] completed my 12th stay at &Beyond lodges. I have been a customer since 2005 and each year as I plan my trip I wonder if my stay will be as exciting, relaxing and spiritually meaningful as prior visits. The answer continues to be – yes! Here’s why.

The more trips I make I find the stories are more about your employees than the amenities and game drives (and believe me those game drives are very important to me). Because I have travelled 9 of the 12 trips alone, I have been fortunate to become acquainted with different staff members through conversations at meals, or ad hoc conversations as I sat and enjoyed the ambience between drives.

As a footnote, I am now retired from my position as Director of Finance from a company that has a culture much like &Beyond, and that is why I can understand and appreciate your values and care for guests and staff.

On my recent visit to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp I was very happily surprised that Gift was among the greeting party upon my arrival (I first met Gift 9 or 10 years ago). When I made my reservation Bronwyn had checked and alerted me that Gift would be on leave so I did not expect to see her. A series of circumstances enabled Gift to rearrange her schedule to be at Kirkman’s that day.

We were able to catch up at lunch on what was new in our lives and since there was room in the vehicle for the afternoon drive we shared that time too. I call her a good luck charm and the ‘leopard finder’ from experiences on our drives. And yes we saw wild dogs and leopard on that drive!

My game drives were amazing and made more so because of ranger Gareth Poole. I met him when he was a newbie ranger at &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve in 2010 or 2011. One day during that trip I was the only guest signed up for a nature walk and politely said he did not have to conduct the walk just for one person. He introduced himself as Gaz and off we went. I was impressed by his passion and knowledge and still remember the monitor lizard he pointed out that was poking its head out of its home inside a tree.

Well, Gareth still has a great passion for his craft and guests feel it. On our first drive, we saw wild dogs because he and his brother invested time and effort tracking them earlier that afternoon between game drives. I truly appreciate this effort and also admire the enthusiasm professionals are able to maintain as they explore the bush each day – this I call passion for the bush. As I show my photos upon my return I emphasize that it is not about seeing animals, but the stories of these animals, the knowledge and enthusiasm of the rangers and trackers, the wind in your hair – the whole experience!

This letter would not be complete without a mention of &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge as a magical place where the culture is one of family. While I did not visit &Beyond Ngala this year, over the years I have met many welcoming staff and remember with fondness Mama Connie and my butlers Norman, Nat and Patrick, who passed away a few years ago.

My first game drives there were with the legendary ranger Dyke, whose soul is linked to the land and animals. It was at the lodge that I first met Dennis who is now managing &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp, taking the lodge culture there. Lee-Anne Davis has been my ranger at Ngala Tented Camp my last two visits and we have had dynamite game drives with tracker Richard. Lee-Anne and I have had many engaging conversations and her passion for rhino protection is fierce.

My favourite recollection (besides the three dominant lions killing a hyena) of her intensity and passion is when we came upon a black sable male antelope last year. He was a full grown perfect specimen. This animal was one of the few remaining on her bucket list and had not been seen at Ngala for over 15 years! Lee-Anne’s excitement was over the top and taught us that a rare sighting can rival the Big Five. I love when rangers continue to be awed by the surprises of the bush.

Lastly, I would like to mention Bronwyn Walker, with whom I’ve been booking my trips since 2005. While we’ve never met in person, we’ve shared many, many emails and exchanged more than itineraries. She, like many of your staff, is a treasure.

Many thanks to all staff who abide by your mission to “take exceptional care of guests in order to make a difference”. They have made a difference to my life and those I meet and I thank them.”

~ Barbara, &Beyond Guest Book

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