We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the people of Makweti Safari Lodge are a huge contributing factor as to why guests come back time and again. We are so fortunate to have an incredible, dedicated and passionate team, even if they eventually do move on to other ventures.
Kevin Holroyd was one such person. He worked at Makweti many moons ago as a safari guide and lodge manager; in fact, it was where he began his career. He has always looked back fondly on those times, so we asked him to write an account of his experiences on the Welgevonden Reserve and at Makweti Safari Lodge.
These are his words, we hope you enjoy his personal story from his most recent freelance safari guide trip to the reserve.
Welgevonden Game Reserve Never Disappoints
Words by: Kevin Holroyd
For me as a safari guide, my favourite moments are always when you meet your guests for the first time, seeing and sharing in their excitement of what might lie ahead.
So, it is doubly exciting for me whenever I get the opportunity to visit Welgevonden Game Reserve as a freelance guide. This is a reserve that lies close to my heart.
It is where I started my career as a guide and lodge manager, compliments of Makweti Safari Lodge. Although I was fortunate to have worked at other game reserves throughout South Africa, my thoughts often return to Welgevonden with its stunning landscapes and vistas. In my opinion the most beautiful reserve in South Africa!
It is one thing to drink in the stunning views, but people visit a game reserve for the animals and it is at this point that my heart really starts pumping when I think of Welgevonden. This was how I felt during a recent freelance guiding opportunity at Welgevonden.
To really appreciate the extraordinary ten days I spent at Welgevonden during early August this year, I must give you a brief insight into the life of a safari guide working at a busy commercial lodge.
Let me tell you, there is pressure.
Remember the excited faces I told you about when you meet guests at the gate? Now imagine having six sets of guests during that period, all with the same expectations. As a guide you should have a built-in desire to please and this is where the pressure comes in!
So, with the above-mentioned in mind, you head out on every game drive keeping your fingers and toes crossed that the animals will come to the party. And they certainly did! Non-stop on every one of the 20 game drives I guided whilst I was there. But what impressed me the most was the quality of the sightings.
- Lions walking around the vehicle, cubs playing, drinking water, males roaring and the highlight, a 30-minute battle between the Western Pride and a white rhino mother and her very small calf (don’t worry the rhino mom did well).
- Nowhere else will you see 15 white rhino grazing together on the plains.
- A mother hippo supporting her young calf on her back in order to stay above water.
- A male cheetah stalking a herd of impala and then just missing at the last second.
- A whole herd of elephant cavorting around at Leopard Dam.
- Two old buffalo bulls, peacefully grazing in the river in the stunning Sterkstroom Valley.
- And then, the question everybody asks, what about the leopards?
During that period there were six different leopard sightings. We were fortunate enough to experience the best: three 10-month-old leopard cubs playing in full view for over 20 minutes, whilst a male leopard lay majestically on a rock nearby.
Of course these are only a few sightings. We can’t forget the iconic African views of giraffe, zebra and other plains game filling in the gaps against the magnificent, wild skyline.
Pressure, what pressure? Thank you Welgevonden, you always deliver!