The Big Move
Pierre and I had been working at Duba Plains for nearly 3 years when the managers at Zarafa, as well as the Executive Chef, all resigned within 2 months. This started a casual conversation between the two of us, on sunny winter afternoons while enjoying a cup of tea on our “stoep” (verandah), watching the Kudu, elephants and even buffalo roam in our back yard. The conversation didn’t have any weight really, we were happy in our piece of paradise but I guess you can say we were also in our comfort zones.
After a couple of months, the conversation grew more serious as the Selinda Concession managers asked if we’d be interested in running Zarafa. Suddenly, the possibility became a little more real, and with that the conversations we had between the two of us now included top management and eventually a celebratory glass of bubbles rather than a cup of tea.
We finished up at Duba at the end of June and took our month of leave over July. Even though we had lived in a tent, we managed to gather enough “stuff” that had to be packed up and flown out in a Caravan. We enjoyed our time off and as the time grew nearer for us to return to civilised life in the bush, we grew more and more excited, and probably a little nervous, for our new adventure. Arriving at Zarafa at the end of July we sure hit the ground running. Our first guests included a mixture of celebrities, share holders and The Jouberts themselves.
The team here is great, the staff are so hard working and caring that it made it an easy transition. They made us feel very welcome and it hasn’t taken long for us to truly feel at home here. I think the fact that we have been with Great Plains for 3 years helped this be an easy move. We know the standards and the people, although their is a touch of extra pressure since Zarafa is the flagship and the only Relais & Chateaux camp in Botswana.
One big difference between here and Duba, something Pierre and I both commented on in the beginning already, is the wild life. One morning I was walking along the pathway and the next thing a pack of hunting wild dogs whizzed past me. Incredible! It’s happened a couple of times already where a leopard has casually strolled past below the deck where we have dinner and of course the dwarf mongoose family living near our tent is a treat.
We already miss the staff at Duba and we’re planning to pop in for a visit soon. They taught us so much about the culture and this fantastic country and we’ll always be grateful to them for welcoming us into their home. For now we are learning more at Zarafa and settling in well, working hard and pinching any “free time” we can to email suppliers and scribble to do lists since we are getting married on the 14th of November! A big year for us indeed.