A purchase from the heart
Posted on 31 August 2015 by Sylvia
Part of Africa is your gateway to a magical private game reserve in the Tuli Block in Botswana. Every month we ask a fellow co-owner to let us know why he or she decided to invest in this reserve. This month we had the pleasure of interviewing Clive and his wife Jill, co-owners since 2013.
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Can you tell something about who you are, where you are from and what you do in everyday life?
We live in South Devon in the UK and have been retired for nearly ten years. We are actively involved in sailing and Clive is currently the Commodore of the Royal Dart Yacht Club. Prior to our move here 20 or so years ago we lived and worked in Oxford and London.
Which countries have you visited in Africa?
Our love affair with Africa started 46 years ago when we were first married and went to work in Johannesburg. Clive is a Chartered Accountant. Early in our stay we had our first holiday to the Kruger Park and found the animals and the whole experience amazing, so, from then on we took every opportunity we could to see more of the country and its wild places. We returned to UK in 1972 and having established a family we began to revisit the reserves in South Africa and neighboring countries almost every year and never tiring of the experience.
What is it that makes Africa unique for you?
Africa is special for us because the sounds, smells, views, colors, fauna and flora just cannot be equalled elsewhere. Every trip into the bush brings a new experience often exciting, sometimes thrilling, but always rewarding and memorable.
And what is special about Botswana and the Tuli Block?
Botswana and Tuli Block are within easy distance of Johannesburg with plenty of good stopping off places for a night or two en-route. The Motswana people are very friendly and the crime rate is very low compared with other African countries. It is both politically and financially stable, and is a non-malaria area, which is important if you plan to visit often.
How did you find out about the reserve?
In November 2012 we were staying in the Natal Battlefields at Fugitives Drift where we picked up an Africa Geographic Magazine in which we saw an advert for the reserve. This looked interesting so Jill made a note to investigate further. We were always on the lookout for different bush and wilderness experiences, but had not so far considered investing in Southern Africa.
When did you decide to invest in the reserve?
We researched the website of the reserve and, in early 2013, made further enquiries. The whole project sounded fantastic and the thought of owning a share in this reserve grew on us. So, in April 2013, we visited it for 4 days and our minds were made up. By the end of May we were signed up. This was very much a purchase from the heart rather than investment for us – a bit like buying a yacht, which we already knew something about.
What was the main reason for you to invest in this reserve? Did you also visit other reserves in your search for a place/reserve to invest in?
Our main reason for investing in this reserve was the freedom and flexibility it offered together with the opportunity to be involved in a conservation project in Africa. Safaris have become very expensive and most of them too luxurious. They tend to follow the same regimented format and those that are less so are usually more remote and difficult to get to. This reserve is comfortable and flexible in its accommodation, catering and game viewing facilities. The game rangers are terrific but the option to drive oneself is very special. “You can be a game ranger too!” And the ability to bring family and friends and to self-cater, if one wants to, is also very appealing. Above all, it was exciting to think that we could be involved in the development of a wilderness reserve which also benefits the local people. We did not visit other reserves as we didn’t know of any which compare and are so easy to access from the UK. We are nearly 70 years old now, and want to continue to spend time in the African bush for as long as possible. We believe that this reserve offers the best opportunity for us to do so. It now even has an airstrip, so it’s just a couple of hours from Johannesburg for those who prefer to fly.
How often do you visit the reserve?
So far we have had six visits mostly of two weeks each. We want to experience the reserve in all seasons, as each is very different both in appearance and animal behavior. Our next trip is planned for October. On most occasions we have had friends and family joining us, but we have also made many new friends among the other shareholders who have been visiting at the same time. There is so much experience among them that one is always learning or doing something new, as well as sharing a sundowner or an evening together.
What is your favorite spot at the reserve and why?
There are so many lovely spots on the reserve which change with every season. In the green season sundowners on the Southern plains would be hard to beat as the animals and their young arrive in their scores, and quietly graze as the sun goes down. Our favorite drive would be a river road to one of the waterholes, with all its twists, turns and dongas to negotiate. And once at the waterhole you don’t have to be very patient to be rewarded with an amazing display of birds and animals coming down to drink.
Can you describe your perfect day at the reserve?
A perfect day for us would start at sunrise for a game drive with a ranger, or a walk along the river towards the hippo pools. It is very peaceful with only the bird songs and maybe a distant hippo laugh to break the silence. Across the river there will surely be a bush buck or two and maybe a troupe of vervet monkeys, but keep a wary eye out for Crocodiles. After a couple of hours and sightings of up to 50 different bird species, we return to the lodge for breakfast. Time now to check out our photos, have a swim in the pool or just enjoy relaxing with a good book in the heat of the day. In late afternoon we like to drive ourselves to a waterhole or other special spot, not forgetting to take the cool box with our sundowners. A breeding herd of elephants heading for a waterhole to drink, and watching six week old wild dog puppies playing outside their den are examples of special encounters we have had recently. Heading back in the dusk is a good time to see one of the many leopards on the reserve, and once it is dark perhaps a porcupine or an aardvark, or if we are really lucky the lions. Back at our lodge Norman has lit the fire which is the perfect place to re-live the day with friends, a glass or two of wine and a braai.
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