The day before the camp's official opening ceremony, final touches were being put on every aspect of the camp. The staff was carrying out the day as if they had official guests and even the menu and food preparations were being refined. Amidst the chaos, I had a chance to talk to some of the camp's staff to learn about their role in Gudigwa Camp and what they think it will take for it to succeed.
Letshogo Tsima, Administration Manager
"Well, I feel ready for the camp to open," said Letshogo Tsima, administration manager for Gudigwa Camp, on the day before its official opening. We've spent a lot of time training and practicing," he said.
Lets' job is one of the 50 positions created at Gudigwa Camp that went to
members of the Gudigwa Village. He spent months training in all aspects of guest management including hospitality, first aid, tour guiding and even public speaking.
||"We're trying to appeal to guest's needs but create as authentic an experience as possible."|
"Everyone in the village is really excited about the chance to share our culture. It's (the camp) getting young people interested in traditional ways and is providing all kinds of new opportunities for people. I feel that we have a special chance here and once people come to Gudigwa they will love the experience. We don't have fences in camp but what's an eco-camp without nature right outside your door?"
Liza Humphries, Camp Manager
As Camp Manager, Liza Humphries will spend nearly two-thirds of the year working in the bush.
"My co-workers and the villagers gave me the nickname "Okudi". It means, 'one who has no family' or 'lives on their own'. But this is a life I could only dream of before," Liza said. I asked her how she got involved with this sort of work. "It was just about the time when I had decided to study community development that I got lucky. I got a job with Wilderness Safaris at a safari camp, which introduced me to life in the bush, and I was hooked," she said.
"I have a lot of hope that Gudigwa Camp will be a success. It's such a unique destination - a one-of-a-kind place in Botswana. It's been challenging combining the culture of the San Bushmen into the operations of a high-end lodge. We're trying to appeal to guest's needs but create as authentic an experience as possible. I also think tourists nowadays are hoping to make a greater impact, do something positive with the money they spend on holiday. That's what we'll be showing people at Gudigwa."
Ashley Harris, Chef Consultant
Ashley Harris is playing a behind-the-scenes role in getting the camp and its staff prepared to receive guests. She and her business partner consult on projects and are especially interested in helping community projects like Gudigwa succeed.
I asked her how she came to be a chef in the bush. "After school, I thought I'd be a chef in London or some famous restaurant. But I ended up training chefs all over the place, including some in safari lodges here in Southern Africa."
"But I really like the idea of using my skills to build opportunities for others. The challenge here (at Gudigwa) is the business side of things. Africans are by nature very hospitable so I feel guests' expectations will be met, no problem. It's making sure all the business side runs smoothly - that marketing brings guests, that facilities are maintained and that revenue is reinvested in improving the camp. If this works out, it will really benefit the community."
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