‘We also have wild dogs, which guests usually see running along the road in the early morning or late afternoon,’ he adds. ‘If you’re lucky you may even see some of our lions who seem to like sleeping in trees. If you see one up a marula tree in the morning he may well be there for the rest of the day.’
As for developments visitors can look forward to in the future, Jeffrey mentions upgrading the 20 rondavels that currently share communal ablutions and kitchens. ‘Within two years we hope to be able to give them their own facilities,’ he says.
‘By the end of this year or the beginning of 2012 we will also be offering a sunset drive followed by a bush braai in a scenic spot. In time, we hope to add traditional performances and basic star gazing information to the package as well. It’s a good opportunity for visitors to appreciate the night sky, but first our guides will need special training.
‘We’re also developing what we call Zinkwe’s (Bushbaby’s) Corner,’ he adds with a gleam in his eye. ‘It’s a converted bird hide at Hilltop where children will be able to entertain themselves with TV, DVDs, a play centre and jungle gym, all under supervision.’ Clever plan: keep the kids happy and entertained and moms and dads have a better time too!
There’s no end to Jeffrey’s plans. At Hilltop for two years after six at Ithala Game Reserve's Ntshondwe resort and seven at Kruger National Park, he even talks dreamily of ‘bush and beach’ weekend packages given that the Indian Ocean is so close to the park.
‘Wherever you plant me I will make my home, and I will make it the best resort,’ he smiles. Although he’s a quietly spoken man, he has both a charming personality and huge passion for his work, so I don’t doubt him for a moment.
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