It’s Monday 11th July 2005 and RPS through Rob’s eyes

Jo here – firstly I need to explain about the photos – Simon has just driven out, leading the next mobile, and clearly spent yesterday clearing off his photos from his computer!  I cannot find the planned staff pics.  So you have an arbitrary (although excellent of course) selection this week.

With Rob, the new GM, firmly in place I thought it would be interesting to see the company and the area through the eyes of someone who has experienced safari companies throughout Africa.  So over to Rob……

…. With initial impressions fresh on my mind having arrived some two old months ago, I have found myself settling back into a wild and pioneering Africa I did not think still existed. RPS has a guest ethos of comfortable but not opulent bush life with an accentuation on adventure and the wildlife experience. This has been achieved with simple but clever décor in the camps and more importantly the selection of RPS staff and management.

Leopard in full chase at Tena TenaLeopard in full chase at Tena Tena

(David, our webmaster, took these at Tena Tena – had to put both in as could not choose !)

On arrival into the Valley my first assignment before any other was ‘get your guides license’! And so came, the arduous task of head down school work, learning the trees and new animals’ endemic to the area, – Latin names, local names, gestation periods, bird calls etc etc.. some of which I might add I still have not seen and I am becoming rather sceptical as to whether they exist or not! However, having scrapped through the exams I have been put to the real test, that of finding my feet within Robin Pope Safaris.

The company is like one big family Robin, Jo and 120 or so others of us all carefully looked after and positioned in strategic prime locations within the Valley (Tena, Nsefu, Nkwali and Mupamadzi). Amongst camp staff and management a friendly warm attitude prevails. Only first names are used except for the occasional ‘Bwana’!

massive Lundu Plains baobabLion print

(more from David, from a mobile safari – the massive Lundu Plains baobab and a small bush detail….)

After nearly 20 years the Company is like a well oiled machine. The camp set up, seasonal operations and close down are done almost without thought. (Ed – but lots of work!) Some of the guys have been here since Robin and Jo first set out – loyal followers to the end, who also have the ability to extend a helping hand to any who ask, no matter what the cost and always with a smile. The camp managers (Daudi, Keyala, Deb, and Ross) are all veteran guides who have been bitten by the Luangwa and Robin Pope Safari’s bug.  The supporting hostess caterers/assistant mangers who arrive every season, play a critical roll of holding everything together in camp. This particular style of operation is unique in my experience and works very well.

I have been amazed by the consistent quality of game viewing and various sighting and experiences guests have had. The guest experience is designed to develop into an adventure.  As a guest put it the other day “you do not aim for five star hotels in your camps, you the certainly achieve a five star experience”.  In few places in my African travels have I seen guiding at such a consistently high standard. Granted the backdrop is one of the best areas in Africa but the level of knowledge and attention to guest entertainment and detail is particularly good.

Dawn at Tena TenaDusk at Tena Tena

(finally from Rocky – dawn and dusk at Tena Tena)

Jo is the ‘accelerator’ and Robin is the ‘brakes’ is how I had the bosses first explained to me and somewhere in the middle the operation sits. Jo’s ideas are unstoppable. The Luangwa Safari House Project was never an option for me – with my limited building experience it has been all hands on deck and some really amazing ideas of the almost impossible. Don’t under estimate the magnitude of leadwood and leadwood.  Jo and our designer architect Neil as a combination are a real challenge to any builder! This project and life at RPS have set the tone for my future in the Luangwa Valley, a challenge I am really looking forward to!

All the best

Rob

the new and delighted General Manager !

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