TRUST the Dream is Alive
With all that is going on, I decided that Beverly and I needed to test travel. To test our protocols and visit our teams in Kenya. To start a tour of properties across our portfolio, and to see our family of staff again. I was not prepared for the overwhelming joy and spirit with which we were greeted in each camp. Everyone has taken the phrase “We’re in the hospitality business, not the hospital business” to heart.
Airport clearances were easy, but most of all, the camp protocols I was testing impressed me. Distancing is easy, and all but transparent, obvious enough to give comfort. Our Great Plains branded FaceWear (masks) worn by our camp teams are attractive and an extension of the uniforms. Polite invitations to sanitize at various stops and in potential pinch points where you receive greeting towels or needing to sign something, along with regular temperature checks, go like clockwork.
That is all our mangers’ and staff doing having taken our protocols and added a certain flair to them! Mara Nyika, Mara Plains, and ol Donyo Lodge have all been preparing for this for months. Our guests over the holidays quickly relaxed into being taken care of in superb, Great Plains style. It’s all about trust, isn’t it? And I watched carefully and with a smile under my beard, just how quickly arriving guests relaxed into that circle, that bubble of safety and trust.
And talking of welcomes, those that follow our film work already know that the local leopard, Fig, at Mara Plains has gifted us with her trust a few times already. Some guests in camp just days before our arrival mentioned heavy footfalls on their tent’s canvas roof. Becky and Sam (managers) suggested it may be the bush-babies, but our guests felt that it ‘seemed heavier than that…’ When they, and the butler for that tent, Jefferson, checked it out, they found this:
Two-day old cubs were just getting the hang of the sloping canvas of the guest tent. Over the next few weeks came to enjoy the slide down to the edge and the steady climb back to the apex. The cubs were born off the ground on a canvas ‘hammock’, and their first steps on Mother Earth must have been very different.
Ironically, this birth’s timing coincides with the European and African release of our film a Jade Eyed Leopard, about the very same mother and her previous cub, Toto.
Jade Eyed Leopard will be featured on the Nat Geo Wild channel in the following regions/countries as follows:
|25 January 2021||South East Asia|
|1 February 2021||Italy|
|2 February 2021||United Kingdom|
|4 February 2021||Germany|
|7 February 2021||South Africa and the rest of Europe|
|14 February 2021||Poland|
|April 2021||Latin America (exact date unknown at this stage)|
Don’t forget to diarise these dates on your end and please double-check local listings to confirm exact times
Simultaneously we’ve started getting special wildlife reports from ALL our opened camps, and I’ve taken to calling them “Trust Moments”, and that is what I want to highlight this week. In Beverly and my decades of living amongst these animals, documenting their lives, and conserving their homes we are keenly aware of the critical role trust plays in everything we do through our films, our Foundation work, and our Great Plains safari camps.
Some teams feel that wildlife activity is increasing due to lockdowns and the lack of activity in our camps. Still, in most of our camps, we have been busy refurbishing and doing maintenance, lifting and polishing floors, or changing our flysheets.
These wildlife reports include that an elephant routinely lies down on the steps into Zarafa. Painted dogs, chasing impala, are blasting through Selinda as if it doesn’t exist and the bridge at Duba Plains now serves as the main thoroughfare for lions that have grown a little tired of swimming the river to get from one side to the other. Personally, it feels that the increased wildlife sightings are not due to the lack of activity in our camps; instead, that they have ‘settled in’ and finally stepped into through that vortex of ‘trust’.
We can’t wait to share these moments with you again this year, and as I look back at 2020, with hindsight, knowing there is little we can do about the past except perhaps reflect on it and find value in what has happened. I now look forward to bright spots on which to build our future.
Coming on safari, to the mostly outdoor and open-air experiences we offer, with these strict but stress-free protocols, is still going to take trust.
Having now tested our system now firsthand, I trust it, like our leopardess.