A man of many names it seems; from The Ginger Ninja, Pink Prawn to the Lucky Leprechaun. To most people, I am just known as Chad. I joined the Tanda Tula family at the end of 2017, but have been guiding in the Timbavatisince 2007. It was never meant to be a thirteen year endeavor as I initially came to the bush for what was meant to be simply be a gap year; I guess a gap decade is now a far better term for it! As much as it was a love of nature and photography that brought me to the bush, it has been the pleasure I get from sharing it with other people that has been the fuel that has kept me going all these years. Now, in the face of an absence of guests, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to still be sharing these experiences with would-be travellers via our Sofa Safaris.
Tanda Tula Safari Camp has been my home for 4 and a half years, but I have been a safari guide for about 9 years now, that’s a lot of “terrible days” in Africa! I think by this stage I am pretty sure that I will never hold down a regular desk job (would kind of be like watching a baboon use a stapler). I love wildlife, actually I love everything to do with nature! This is why I am so happy to be involved with the Sofa Safaris. It has been an utter joy to be able to bring Africa right into your living room and all the comments, questions and love has been astounding. So, thank you all for tuning in! This is a downright weird time to be alive, but together, we will see each other through. Don’t forget to smile every once in a while, there is still so much to laugh about…like Dale’s moustache.
My name is Brittany or Britt for short (more recently – eagle eye Britt). I fell head-over-heels in love with a safari guide (I think they call this khaki fever) and was whisked off to the bush to work at Tanda Tula four years ago. Living and working in the wilds of the Greater Kruger National Park with my hubby, Luke, has been an unexpected dream come true for me and I could not picture myself anywhere else, doing anything else. Over the past two years I have developed a serious love for filming wildlife (my education is in creative brand communication and multimedia design) and being a part of the Sofa Safari team has been a bit of a silver lining in an otherwise rather scary and uncertain time. Reading all of your comments, with your love and support for what we are trying to do is the highlight of my day and I feel absolutely privileged to be able to carry on sharing the safari experience with all of you from afar. It has given me a sense of purpose in a time that I would otherwise have felt totally lost, so I thank you for that.
I am the Tanda Tula Social Media Manager (amongst a few other things!) and the person you chat to when you leave all those amazing, heartfelt comments on our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube platforms. You don’t know me, but I know all of you. You have brought so much sunshine to my days during lockdown with your funny videos, loving messages and continuous support, thank you! I am not at the lodge with the rest of the lucky team who are keeping the fires burning, but am fortunate enough to be based in Hoedspruit. I am in daily comms with everyone at camp, and of course all of our fans! I photograph people, not animals, which is not to say I don’t love them. I have been living in the bush for almost 20 years and crazy about all thing’s safari!
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. Canon or Nikon?
Luke: Nikon, of course! Jokes aside, it really is the person behind the camera that takes the images after all.
Britt: Nikon – I use a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, it is amazing for both film and photography!
Shara: Canon – I don’t get into the debate. Love what I do, love my subjects. End of story.
2. What is your best animal to find in the Timbavati?
Chad: My favourite animal? Hmmm, I can tell you that the frog sitting on my uniform and black mambas under my bed are definitely low down on the list! On the upper end of it, would have to be a toss-up between African wild dogs and lion cubs – the social interaction and levels of energy that both of these sets of animals display always make for joyous and entertaining sightings…and flipping difficult photographic challenges!
Luke: Hmm, my favourite animal in the Timbavati? That’s a tricky one, I mean if I absolutely had to name one of them and then all the others were to read this, it would ruin my relationships with so many animals! Okay, okay, the late stunning Marula leopardess would probably be the one, but sssshhh!
Britt: This is a hard one because they are all so incredibly special in their own totally unique ways, but if I have to choose… I have always had an affinity with lions, maybe that is why I am so good at spotting them! (P.S – please don’t confuse my fear of elephants with disliking, I LOVE elephants, no other animal out here has the ability to make one feel as completely present as they do!
Shara: It will always be wild dogs. Although there are so many amazing safari aspects out there; the trees, smells, sounds and most importantly the sense of peace you get just being in the wilderness.
3. If you could travel anywhere right now where would you go?
Chad: If I could go somewhere right now, with a lack of other tourists, I would probably opt to go and see some of the wildlife of India without the crowds. If it was under more normal circumstances, then I’d go to Svalbard in the Arctic, or Antarctica. I hate the cold, but to experience something that is just so different from any part of the world I have seen would be quite special in itself.
Luke: Anywhere in the world? Well, I have been dying to visit and photograph the mountain gorillas. That’s probably tops of the chart right now, but to be fair I would die to see the great north of Canada or the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Perhaps the wilds of Sri Lanka or literally all the national parks of the USA (maybe the weirdness of Iceland or wait, what about the Galapagos?). I think you know where I am going with this. To be honest though, I would settle for a camping trip in the Kruger National Park right now!
Britt: Botswana! Luke and I had travel plans of our own that we had to cancel due to border closures. It was supposed to be our very first over land adventure, we had our little blue Landi all kitted out and ready to go, so as soon as things are more settled and we are all able to travel again, we will officially begin our explorations of the rest of Africa… watch this space!
Shara: Other than Tanda Tula? It would be the Okavango Delta, surrounded by endless space and beauty.
4. What would your last meal on earth be?
Chad: A burger and chips (fries) with a cheese sauce. And a mandatory selection of craft beers and ales. And if I don’t need to worry about the weight I’d put on tomorrow, I’d definitely end off with some chocolate mousse!
Luke: Authentic south east Asian noodles. Just the noodles, well maybe with a bit of soya sauce and fresh chilli.
Britt: Vegetarian ramen noodles, Luke and I are a little obsessed with vegetarian Asian food!
Shara: Buffalo mozzarella, parma ham, Italian tomatoes, crispy Ciabatta and really good olive oil accompanied by a bottle of cold Rosé. Dessert would have to be the world’s largest scoop of pistachio ice cream!
5. What do you love most about Tanda Tula?
Chad: What I love most about Tanda Tula is that if I sent this email to chef Ryan, he would lovingly make me a cheese sauce burger and chips for dinner tonight…but if I did demand that from him, it might well be my last day on earth! But really, for me the relaxed atmosphere that the staff, the guests and the camp setup create makes this a special place. It’s friendly, laid back (without being complacent) and has a real familiar vibe about it. This allows for everyone that visits here to unwind and feel at home straight away.
Luke: It’s hard to sum up what I love about Tanda Tula. Our fearless leadership comes to mind, hand-in-hand with the authenticity and warmth of our staff. It’s everything we do here. At the end of the day what I love most, I guess, is that we are exactly who we are and I am sure many of our past and return guests will understand exactly what I mean by this because they are part of this too and always will be.
Britt: Without a doubt, the people. Without sounding too corny or too much like a millennial, Tanda Tula is my tribe. I have never met a more authentic, grounded and inspiring bunch of people. Working at Tanda Tula has broadened my frame of reference in ways I could never have anticipated. I have been immersed in the Shangaan culture and I even consult with our local sangoma, Pretty Zitha, from time-to-time. Without leaving home I have met people from all over the world and have learned so much from each and every one. I miss our dinner conversations and the excitement on everyone’s faces as they tell stories of the day’s sightings. I miss witnessing lives being changed enigmatically for those first-time safari goers by the drama and majesty of Africa. I hope that we are all able to travel again soon so that the spirit of Tanda Tula can return. In the meantime, we will do our best to keep bringing the wildlife of the Timbavatito you.
Shara: Where to begin? Tents that are so connected to the surrounding environment, they provide a real and authentic safari, but with enough comfort. Guests who feel like family because the staff have embraced them into the warmth of this environment. Incredible food that at times is tasty and comforting (bush breakfast) and at others completely cutting edge and mind blowing (Chef Ryan’s culinary, mastery dinners). My colleagues who are talented in so many fabulous ways, from napkin folding (have you ever tried to make a Guineafowl out of material?) to pouring cocktails, to photography and filming (no names needed)! And lastly, but certainly not least, our inspiring, empathetic and strong leaders. Tanda Tula would not be what it is without the input from every single individual in this team, I am incredibly proud to be part of this remarkable team!