The Unexpected Brilliance of Bees on Safari

Bees

Bees aren’t the usual reason we go on safari. (They only give us the gift of life, but anyway…) Bee eaters, perhaps, for the birders among us. But mostly, it’s the big cats and the Big 5 and other less dainty wild things that call us, excite us.

ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya will make you think completely differently about this erroneous dismissal of the little pollinators.

We have been documenting the attention bees have recently been acquiring across the world – including in the Relais & Châteaux hotels, lodges and restaurants – in Instants, our online magazine. The reason for this attention is on account of the very real threat of extinction that the honeybees face. But there’s another reason to pay them more attention, as the lodge highlights:

“Bees, on top of their pollinating and honey-making skills can be inordinately useful little insects. There have been a number of projects using beehives around fencing that will keep elephants away from crops or water equipment. As big as elephants are, a beehive that has been woken will win an argument. Perhaps, once there are numerous trained beekeepers, this could be a useful project for the communities surrounding ol Donyo Lodge.”

Ellies at ol Donyo

ol-Donyo-honeycomb

“Now that the rains have ended at ol Donyo Lodge, the honey bees have been busy.  We have decided to utilise their endless productivity and set up some bee hives in the hope of expanding and then training a community member to assist in the care and harvesting of honey. Not only will this be a potential community project but we will also to be able to harvest sustainable, organic Chyulu Hills Honey.

“Currently we have our well known employee Kani Hyesa, who most guests would have encountered during their safari at ol Donyo Lodge, heading up this project with his bee-keeping expertise. Between Kani and Manager, Shaun Mousley, we are hoping to get this project off the ground.

“In the meantime, we were fortunate enough to harvest our first honey from an older bee hive originally set up by Kani. We were able to bottle about 1 litre of pure organic Acacia Blossom Honey! Time to make some honey cakes!”

Honey map

We at Relais & Châteaux are working with properties around the world to support the global bee population, many of which you can see above in the Relais & Châteaux Honey Map.

Read more about the life of bees:

The Art of The Search with Shane Kloeck of Morukuru

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There are two ways to approach the search – at least, two considerable ones. Two rather contrasting views that, combined, were it possible, would surely be the best perspective of them all. A wide-angle and telephoto lens in one.

The search that is the game drive on safari is not unlike the greater quests of life – the search for meaning, love, friendship, success, pleasure… The great sages of our time’s notions of how to go about the latter pursuits can, then, be applied to the former – the safari.


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One such sage, Hermann Hesse presents one of our two perspectives with his advice to the seeker – that is, to not seek at all. In his novel, Siddhartha, he writes:

“When someone is searching, said Siddhartha, then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”


As the sun begins to set the Wild dogs become active and mobile and begin their search for prey... — at Morukuru Family.

As the sun begins to set, the wild dogs become active and mobile and begin their search for prey – at Morukuru Family by Shane Kloeck.

On the other side of the sage’s fence is writer, Daniel Mendelsohn, an advocate for our subject:

“I did and do believe, after all that I’ve seen and done, that if you project yourself into the mass of things, if you look for things, if you search, you will, by the very act of searching, make something that would not otherwise have happened, you will find something, even something small, something that will certainly be more than if you hadn’t gone looking in the first place, if you hadn’t asked your grandfather anything at all… There are no miracles, no magical coincidences. There is only looking and finally seeing, what was always there.”


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Applied to safaris, I’m not sure which approach is better – in fact, I’m convinced that we should attempt both. Simultaneously. We should both embark on our adventure with particular hopes – a desire to find the elusive African Emerald Cuckoo, for instance, or to finally perfect a timelapse of the moon’s rise – but we should also arrive with an open mind, one not set on a goal, one free, undistracted and able to see what lies directly in front of it.

Below Ranger, Shane Kloeck, of Morukuru in the Madikwe Game Reserve, recommends that we, “expect the unexpected,” in matters of the wild. What is your approach?

Discover more about safaris and life in the wild at one of Africa’s finest game lodges in our 10 Questions with Shane below.


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10 Questions with Ranger Shane Kloeck of Morukuru

1. Five important things to remember when living in the wilderness?
  1. We are in the animals’ habitat; they always have right of way.
  2. Always use all your senses while walking in the wilderness as you will often hear the animals before you see them.
  3. You must be happy to spend long periods of time away from family and friends.
  4. Expect the unexpected as the bush always seems to do something unforeseen.
  5. Being calm and relaxed is the best way to handle any situation.

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2. Five things the bush and life as a ranger has taught you about yourself and life?
  1. Within life there are many people with different perspectives and attitudes and as a guide it is up to us to educate and share knowledge in the best way possible, in a way that we find suitable so as to give guests the best experience and to pass on our knowledge of the bush to them – and by doing so, we leave a part of us with each person that we meet.
  2. We will never know everything and each day serves to teach you a little more.
  3. That you have to be extremely patient and willing to teach as a ranger
  4. There will always be situations in which you will have to adapt and change in a short space of time.
  5. When a guest asks a question and I’m not too sure of the answer, I’m not scared of saying, “I’m not sure,” and then later finding out and going back to the guests with a best researched answer I can find.

The beauty of a animal in the mist.. What a beautiful start to a day.. (Morukuru Family, Madikwe)

The beauty of an animal in the mist. at Morukuru Family by Shane Kloeck

3. How did you become a ranger at Morukuru ?

In 2014, I began at Morukuru as a student completing my National Diploma in Nature Conservation gaining practical experience in the field as is compulsory in completing the diploma. At the end of 2014, Morukuru offered me a permanent position as a guide.

4. How has your passion for photography developed since joining Morukuru and becoming a ranger?

I’ve always enjoyed photography and becoming a guide at Morukuru has given me more opportunities to take the photos I want, as there are so many perfect opportunities to capture amazing shots out here, while I share my knowledge with my guests.


One of the four brothers resting at one of our hides here at Morukuru after a long day under the African sun.

One of the four brothers resting at the hide at Morukuru after a long day under the African sun. By Shane Kloeck

 5. Your advice for budding photographers on safari?

Always have your camera ready and fully charged and don’t be afraid of asking the guides questions about photography and our recommendations for the best settings to use in various situations. Also never be afraid to try different settings and to see what works the best for you.

6. Favourite part about living in the bush?

Being able to hear the lions roar on a regular basis as well as never knowing what each day will hold and what could be around the next corner.


A Mozambique spitting cobra

A Mozambique spitting cobra paid the lodge a visit. By Shane Kloeck

 7. The one moment you’ll never forget from your time in the bush?

One early morning game drive we tracked down three male lions and followed them to a waterhole where they stopped for a drink. They moved a short distance off and lay down patiently watching the waterhole. Not ten minutes later two buffalo cows approached the waterhole for a drink. The lions immediately reacted and started their stalk in right past our vehicle. As the buffalo made their way away from the water and walked off just behind the vehicle, the lions sprang into action and launched their assault, which ended in them catching one of the female buffalo not 15 metres from our vehicle. They managed to suffocate the female and then lay down next to the dead buffalo for a short while to regain their breath before reaping their reward.

8. Your favourite way to spend down time either at Morukuru or on holiday?

It would either be studying for my degree in Nature Conservation, relaxing, spending time at our hides, watching what comes to visit, or spending time fishing in the river during the summer months with my girlfriend and Chef at Morukuru, Esmaralda.


Morukuru Family 10


  1. Favourite time of day in the bush and best way to start the day?

Most definitely the early mornings, because you’re able to see what has happened the previous night. I especially enjoy being able to follow up on any big cat or predator tracks and successfully locate them.

  1. Favourite meal from the chefs at Morukuru?

The Almond & Frangelico Soufflé with honeycomb ice-cream.


The Sun sends beautiful rays of colour across the horizon as the storm clouds build in the distance. — at Morukuru Family.

The sun sends beautiful rays of colour across the horizon as the storm clouds build in the distance. — at Morukuru Family by Shane Kloeck

Images of Shane: Tamlin Wightman | All others: Shane Kloeck. Take a look at more photographs from Shane over at Wildlife Through a Shutter with Shane Kloeck.

A Heart-To-Heart With The Pioneer of Camp Jabulani – Lente Roode

ellies-model


We spoke about the dreamers and doers of the world in our blog covering this year’s We Are Africa event. “The dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground”, as writer Wilferd A. Peterson called them. We introduced you to two such souls – Dereck and Beverly Joubert, founders of the Great Plains Conservation. Today I’d like you to meet one more. Lente Roode, founder of Camp Jabulani and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC).



On the deck of Camp Jabulani, in the Kapama Game Reserve of South Africa, Lente met me for an early morning coffee – I wiped the sleep from my eyes as she took a moment to exhale, having already done her rounds at HESC, her white wolf of a dog in tow. We spoke for as long as time allowed – “there are so many stories that I will keep you busy forever,” she said as she sat down across from me, biting into an elephant-shaped biscuit. But here are

A few words that really stood out…

  1. The key to life is “instinct and knowledge. Listen to people who know more than you. I ask everybody and then I decide what I want to do.”
  2. “I am so glad that my children are involved in this. Both my children are and my grandson wants to become a veterinarian. Adine is making me so proud. Jabulani and I are close – he is my baby – but Adine and the herd are closer – she knows all the elephants from when she lived here.” Adine Roode, Lente’s daughter, is the current innkeeper at Camp Jabulani.
  3. “HESC is very personal, not a business at all, it’s from the heart.”
  4. “Elephants can smell when you’re sick, someone told me they can smell when you’ve got cancer.”
  5. “We would never remove an animal from the wild unless it ended up at HESC, which became HESC because there was a need for rehabilitation and care of animals, 13 elephants, what do you do? You can’t release them into the wild after they’ve been integrated with people. Our responsibility is to continue what man started. We don’t advocate ever taking an elephant out of the wild and training it, though, never.”
  6. “Whatever I do is for the good of the elephants, not the humans.”
  7. “I don’t like tea parties and empty talk. I need something… Gardening. Animals.”
  8. In spite of having her rhinos poached early on, her husband dying and the threat of having to close due to financial pressure, Lente says, “I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor. I don’t believe in giving up.”
  9. Lente saw this pressure merely as an opportunity to “fight harder”. And created Camp Jabulani, the lodge, as a result, which helped to alleviate this pressure, along with donations from all around the world.

Camp Jabulani


LISTEN TO LENTE

How Camp Jabulani was built

The Mother of the Herd

 Elephants can smell when you’re sick

Lente Roode, Cheetah Whisperer


Read more about Camp Jabulani and the Roode Family in our blogs: