We all spend a huge amount of time and energy trying to make our camps look smarter and more luxurious. We spend hours agonising over thread counts for linen and the particular shade of beige for the scatter cushions.
We have photographers fret over perfect exposures and worried helpers tweak the positioning of highly polished glassware for that award-winning image. We get glossy ads in pricey magazines and yards of editorial about the wonders of each particular camp to woo the prospective guest to rest their heads on our ever softer pillows.
High definition pictures of bored leopards, lions yawning (or is that a Metro Goldwin roar) and sleepy crocodiles sunning themselves on the mud bank are meant to lure you into our somewhat unreal oasis of luxury.
So I often ask the question “Why did you decide to come here?”
The initial reasons vary from a childhood dream, often tempered by a Christmas viewing of the ‘Born Free’ adventure, to a bucket list desire to visit Hemingway’s playground, or a simple love of Africa and a desire to return to the ‘big skies and big cats’.
The final choice is almost inevitably made on a friend or the agent’s recommendation to a place that they have been to and loved. The website or other travellers reviews might seal the deal but it’s the personal experience that counts. Although creature comforts are a pleasure – any fool can be uncomfortable – it’s sometimes the less than perfectly manicured moments that are more memorable. A disrupted game drive to give the vet a lift across across the plains to a wounded animal.
Getting back to camp late and hot after realising the day has passed by too fast with too much to see. Midnight rumblings of an elephant’s tummy outside the room. And sometimes the unexpected friendships that develop in good company.
Any these will make one camp stand out amongst the kaleidoscope of equally lovely places and are what make an ever ever-increasing number of people come back to Elsa’s.
Hope to see you soon.
Philip & Charlie