• Thornybush River Lodge

Oh… to live in wild oblivion!

Deep in thought, wondering where this year has vanished to, I sat watching yet another family group of elephants saunter up to the Thornybush River Lodge swimming pool to quench their thirst. It struck me as weird that nothing at all has changed in their lives during this 2020 Corona-carnage year. Neither for the pile of lions, blissfully lazing in the drainage line that we had passed earlier on game drive. The rhinos too, smacked their wide rubbery lips together grasping the fresh rain-soaked shoots; in complete 2020 oblivion! Nothing has changed in their lives, apart from the need to perhaps hide a little wiser from the eyes of the poaching syndicates, who now more than ever, are on the prowl for their illegal bounty.

It is safe to say that 2020 has been the most challenging year for all of us! Few, if any have escaped the unpredictable twists and turns that the year has fired at us. From the early March predictions of certain death to anyone wielding a hacking cough, to the daring black-market cigarette buyers, and now, the recently mandated forbidden Christmas beach holidays, we have endured and continue to endure the volatile twists of 2020.

As the festive season looms, Christmas breaks have been booked, and cancelled, and re-booked, and even at this late stage in the year, our reservations team is bouncing between calls, keyboards, and Covid-compliance!

With the easing of local travel restrictions in early August, just as we were beginning to think

Sheldon Hooper - gone...but never forgotten!

that life at the lodge was perhaps returning to some semblance of normality, we were struck with a terribly cruel blow. On the morning of the 18 August, our relief field guide, Sheldon Hooper was tragically killed by an elephant cow in a freak accident. We lost a true hero on that fateful morning and not a day goes by when Sheldon is not fondly spoken off and respectfully remembered by his colleagues. As the festive season approaches our warmest thoughts are with his family having to endure the tragic reality of their first Christmas without him.

The Corona pandemic forced some other changes to our lives in 2020; we have a fresh and new

Tyrone and Bri are ready for the festive season!

marketing team, and a new management couple, Bri and Tyrone who were employed with the changeover in October. They hit the ground running and continue to lead the staff, our unsung stars in this year of crisis! Despite the 2020 challenges, they have upheld their customary friendly service behind their mask-hidden smiles to our South African guests, who have been a tremendous morale booster for all the lodge staff.

We have all learnt from this humbling and life-changing event, and are confident that we will emerge from it, as stronger and more empathetic humans. We yearn for the day when we can unequivocally say that normality has returned, and we can welcome all our international guests to a safari holiday, to enjoy life as our wildlife still does, in happy oblivion!

Wishing you all a happy and safe Christmas and a swift return to normality in 2021.

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