Meet the Team at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge
Mosetlha is family owned and run, and there's always a family member on site managing the Camp to ensure the best possible, personal attention at all times. We like to think of Mosetlha as a home from home for our guests (just without any mod cons like tv's and aircon - and with slightly wilder animals!). A place for you to come and just "be" in the bush with a very real chance of seeing magnificent animals in their natural habitat and where someone else makes your bed, does the cooking and clearing up and drives you around.
Our rugged rangers .....
We pride ourselves on the fact that our field guides are extremely well qualified and experienced - well over and above the minimum qualifications that are required in order to work in Madikwe - and they're really good guys to boot!!
Jonny and Justice have very unique qualities and abilities that set them apart and together they make up a truly awesome (and formidable!) team.
Jonny, our Senior Field Guide, is the most experienced guide in this particular area. He was born here and grew up and played on the roads and farm lands that became Madikwe, he went to school in what is now the NWPB Head Office and Conference Rooms.
He started work in the Reserve as a security guard in 1992 and his brilliant career was seriously kick started when he was chosen to attend the Mafisa* Training Programme. This he completed most successfully and did his practical training at one of the luxury lodges. He came to us on Friday 13th (lucky for some) September 2002.
Jonny is super knowledgeable, has eagle eyes (I swear he could spot game through a solid brick wall) and really takes you in to his world on his drives and walks. (*A course run by the Environmental Training Group in 2000 - see Chris below - where eight local villagers were selected and trained, from scratch, in all aspects of field guiding and the hospitality industry. All eight are now working very successfully in the Reserve.)
Justice is the quiet, unassuming member of our team. He started work in Madikwe as a maintenance guy at one of the posh lodges, and worked really hard to qualify as a guide … he is self taught and really knows his stuff. We were his first choice, and none of us have looked back since he joined Mosetlha in 2008.
Mosetlha is owned and managed by Chris and June Lucas and their daughter, Caroline
Chris Lucas, starter of all this. Chris' passion is, and has always been, the bush. Qualified as a Civil Engineer (Cambridge 1965), he ran a successful Project Management company towards the end of his career and retired early to enjoy his little spot in Madikwe. As so often happens post retirement, this little hobby has become a (more than) full time job, requiring more people, more vehicles, more cabins and more energy as the years have gone by!
Chris' thing is most definitely the morning bush walks where his knowledge, expertise, patience and ability to make the little things in the bush come alive for you, is unsurpassable.
How it all started
Chris started the Environmental Training Group in 1990. ETG ran a part time, one year training course for 13 years for people who wanted to learn more about the bush. (ETG designed and ran the field guiding side of the very successful Mafisa Training Programme, mentioned above.) Graduates of his course were fully qualified field guides - all trained up and nowhere to go because they were only able to dedicate weekends to their expertise. This is why he built Mosetlha - to provide a job and experience for his ETG graduates.
Mosetlha kicked off as a weekend only operation, accommodating eight guests from midday on a Friday when field guides and guests all arrived together (with sleeping bags and mattresses for the two dormitory style cabins), enjoyed the magic of Madikwe for a couple of days and closed down Camp and departed along with guests at midday on the Sunday. We ran quite happily like this for four years, and then employed our first full time guide.
By now word had got around about Mosetlha and our guest numbers were increasing quite dramatically.
We needed to add a few structures to the Camp - cabins, loos and showers, dining area, bigger kitchen, store rooms and an office, staff accommodation, more car ports, the lapa .... it's seems to never end! Today we have four full time (and most excellent!) guides, three vehicles and nine double cabins - we're a 16 bed lodge with the ability to accommodate 18 people if block booking.
June has many strings to her bow - apart from being a fully qualified First Aid Instructor (who trains the field guides at all the Madikwe lodges) she is also a field guide and a pretty decent back up on those walks. She no longer takes drives as she feels that guests prefer to be guided by our young, macho rangers (I think the real reason is that she's scared of getting lost in Madikwe's myriad of roads!). She designs the menus, buys the stock, chooses the "decor", and is the hostess with the mostest!
Caroline was living in London when the Camp was started in July 1995. She was doing the corporate thing, working as a project manager, when she came home to "help out" for six months. All the teething problems of running a new business had, by now, been sorted out and all that was needed was a little dedicated time at the Camp itself in order to make it even more of a success (for which she, quite unashamedly, takes complete and absolute credit).
This was in March 2001 and, whilst she knows nothing about the bush or running a lodge, we can't seem to be able to get rid of her (and she's under the sad delusion that she's the boss).
Chris and June have decided that the time has come to retire - so as of the 1st of July 2011 Caroline has taken over the running of the business. Needless to say, she is battling to keep her mom and dad away from the lodge - what better place to retire TO?!
Jenny is in charge of the money (and is referred to as our Financial Director!). She manages the Camp's bills and payments, invoices, VAT and salaries ... she is invaluable! She is also the chief caretaker of Felix (aka GreyCat, Greylie, Greyston, Greystoke, and The Cat) who adopted us a year ago when his owners apparently moved out and left him to fend for himself at one of our neighbouring townhouses. He is our boy … still a bit nervous, but does wind himself around your ankles when he forgets that he’s a stray.
Camp Manager: Monika OosthuizenMonika has been in Madikwe for many years and, whilst she only joined us in 2016, it feels like she’s been a part of Mosetlha forever. She manages the camp staff, and is the perfect hostess. And (most importantly) we’ve started serving malva pudding because Monika bakes!! We got her a little mini gas oven and she produces all sorts of magic out of it.
The Ladies: Nurse Nokane, Franciscah Sephai, Rose Maimane and Kgabisang Pule
Nurse has been with us from the very beginning - when we first started operating as a full time lodge. Her dad drove her to the Camp in a huge truck, she came in and asked for a job, and she never left! When she went on maternity leave (and produced a beautiful little boy, Jonathan), she sent her friend, Fran, to fill in for her. Fran proved to be such a star, we had to offer her a permanent position too.
Nurse and Fran run the kitchen with iron fists, and are also responsible for all housekeeping duties, making sure the cabins and facilities are properly made up and spotless.
Kgabisang and Rosie (Jonny’s sister-in-law) keep things ticking over and running smoothly, and produce some amazing dishes from our rustic little kitchen.
The Guys: Seth Modisane, Thabo Smith, Romeo Smith, Anthony Mogale and Kagiso Marakane
These five are the macho side of the Housekeeping Team. They ensure that the Camp is always looking its best, wood is chopped for the fire, water is collected daily for the bowsers, the laundry is delivered to one of the local village ladies, the fridge is stocked with drinks, the rubbish is burned, the (over 150!) lanterns are clean and full of paraffin - they generally make sure the place runs.
They take turns in staying overnight at the Camp to cook the evening meal, light and put out the lanterns (so that we can hear to ubiquitous “This is just like fairyland” comment when you come back home after your evening drive!) and make sure that the place is spick and span for the morning when they light fires, boil kettles and get your morning coffee and snacks ready.
These guys also tend to want to get involved in the kitchen, and often you'll see them interfering in lunch preparations (with Nurse and Fran's express permission, of course!). These guys are proving to be a real problem in that we have to fight off guests queuing up with job offers to take them home - they are each a true Jack of all Trades having worked as a gardener, waiter, barman, security guard, driver ... you name it!
So that's us - each and every person shares the same goal: to make sure that you, our guests, have the best possible time with us and that the Mosetlha experience vastly exceeds your expectations - and that you leave with plans to come back and see us soon (and tell all your friends about us!).
We look forward to meeting you - and seeing you again.