A place where you can feel alone with Africa

Posted on 8 March 2016 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 Malcolm Campbell from South Africa, co-owner since 2007.

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Can you tell something about who you are, where you are from and what you do in everyday life?

In 1960 I was born in what used to be called Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe.  I was very privileged to spend almost all of my first 5 years and every school holiday thereafter roaming and exploring the 35,000 acre cattle farm that my grandfather managed. The farm was about 120 km north east of Bulawayo in the Nyati (Buffalo) district.  My formative years were very different to my current existence where I own and manage a small to medium sized Human Resources Consultancy based in Fourways north of Johannesburg South Africa.


How often have you been to Africa?

Other than for a few short periods where I lived in Zurich and South of Sydney, I have been very fortunate to have lived in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa) all of my life.


What is it that makes Africa unique for you?

Where do I start; well I suppose it’s actually home. I was very fortunate to have chosen my parents carefully – they moved out to Africa from Scotland after the war in the early 1950’s. So a total love for Africa was impregnated into me I suppose; it’s all that I remember. When I am oversees for any length of time, no matter how beautiful it is wherever I am, it’s definitely not Africa with it’s almost majestic harsh and rugged beauty that has its own dusty smell, cacophony of sounds (human and animal), and abundant fauna and flora. I don’t believe that there is anywhere else with as much diversity of life, and of course death. There is also a tension in the air, always, we have incredibly friendly people but there is always an edge to all of us.


And what is special about Botswana and the Tuli Block?

For me personally, Botswana represents the “old Africa”:slow methodical but with a solid bureaucracy, extremely low population per square kilometer, vast areas of almost unspoiled wilderness with protected game areas. A very stable government with a president who very clearly has the same passion for and need to protect his people’s natural heritage in a sustainable way. It is definitely not perfect but where is these days.


Malcolm 2Malcolm 4


How did you find out about the reserve?

A good friend of mine whose business partner is the cousin of the original developer family invited me to a presentation in 2006. I was not sure at the time and was concerned about the structure. It seemed at the time to be too much like a time share arrangement. I have since learned that this is the furthest from the truth.


When did you decide to invest in the reserve?

Elaine, my wife and I finally visited the Reserve in June 2007 and bought almost immediately thereafter.


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?

We visited a number of reserves in South Africa, many of our friends have shares or lodges in reserves all over the Limpopo Province. We even put in an offer on a lodge in a reserve in the Greater Kruger close to Hoedspruit. Fortunately this offer was rejected at the time which opened the door for us to have another look at this reserve. We went up to the reserve and for me it was like arriving home after a very long absence. As I mentioned before, I grew up on a 35,000 acre cattle ranch in the 1960’s in central Rhodesia, and the trees, dust, grass, feel and smell was exactly the same. Even through all of the challenges we as co-owners of the reserve have faced over the past years, I have personally never regretted my purchase or involvement in the reserve.


How often do you visit the reserve?

With my previous involvement, over the past 3 years, as the acting CEO and board member, I was visiting the reserve at least twice a month. Unfortunately this was not always for personal pleasure. We do however probably visit the reserve at least 6 times per year for periods from 4 nights to 7 to 8 nights at a time. It takes me less than 5 hours door to door from our home in northern Johannesburg (Fourways). We would really like to spend longer periods


What is your favorite spot at the reserve and why?

It’s very difficult for me to choose a single place that I love more than the others. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. Each of the areas or special places have their own unique attractions which change according to the season and or time of the day or night. If I have to choose however, I must choose the areas in the large tracts of wilderness where very few vehicles ever venture. We can often go out early and cook breakfast for ourselves out there and feel like we are the only humans for many kilometers around. The ability to find a place where you do really feel alone with Africa is, I believe, totally unique.


Can you describe your perfect day at the reserve?

A very early rise and a drive to one of the many water holes. To have a light breakfast and to read our books for a few hours while glancing up occasionally at the surroundings to participate, at a respectful distance, in the natural activates. Then a slow drive back to the lodge where we will have a late brunch and a quick catch-up of my business emails for about an hour or so. This always allows me to focus more on relaxing if I know that everything at the office is under control – although at a distance. A short swim (in summer) and a relaxing knap in the afternoon. In winter we go out again on a drive at about 15h30 and in summer at about 16h30. We have sundowners in a different place every night and typically only eat the left-overs from our brunch/lunch. A slow drive back to the lodge again and early to bed. In Africa, patience is the name of the game. Africa has its own clock. If you rush around you typically miss the essence of what Africa is about. If you sit and wait, Africa tends to come to you. It’s all out there in our reserve – just wait and it will show itself to you like no other place. That I can promise you.

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