Living in the remoteness of the African bush has very few dull moments, but it certainly comes with a few logistical challenges.
The Timbavati’s Tanda Tula Safari Camp is in a fairly remote location with the closest town being nearly an hour away. To make your way from Tanda Tula into town involves winding your way slowly through the African bush, crossing two river beds, avoiding traffic jams in the form of large buffalo herds or a few ellies taking it easy in the road, and then finally passing through the Timbavati control gate before taking the tar road a few kilometers into the town of Hoedspruit.
One of the many things Tanda Tula is known for is offering guests exquisite bush cuisine, but what happens when the rivers begin to flow and deliveries are unable to make it into camp, or if a honeybadger decides to turn the kitchen upside down one evening?
“Running a bush kitchen is much the same as running a restaurant kitchen in the city, and yet it isn’t…” says Tanda Tula’s executive chef, Ryan Mullett. “Yes you need to plan your menus, yes you need to manage your kitchen brigade, yes your hygiene standards need to be maintained and yes you need to ensure that the quality of the food produced from your kitchen is of the highest quality. But, what if you run out of eggs or milk? You certainly can’t nip around the corner to the shop!”
“Being so remote in the middle of the African bush means I constantly have to live three or fours days in the future. I have a set of deliveries that come through only once, maybe twice, a week and if my planning is not on target or if I miss something, it’s tough luck until the following week. Something to be avoided at all costs! When last did you drive 45 minutes to quickly grab some milk? I must confess that I do have four litres of soya milk and a packet of rice flour on hand just in case anyone wants soya milk!”
“And then of course there is the rain…When it rains here in the Timbavati, it rains hard and it rains heavy. Following heavy rains the river in front of the camp (a dry riverbed for 95% of the year) starts to run and the roads get nice and muddy (and by run I mean the river becomes a flowing torrent of water!).”
“Sounds like fun, and it is, but delivery vehicles on the other hand do not share my excitement of muddy roads and running rivers. Delivery vehicles tend to get stuck and nobody likes pushing them out of the mud. To solve this little issue, during heavy rains we take our trusty Land Rover and cross the rivers and mud to collect all our items from delivery vehicles parked on the safer tar road. To make these deliveries even more interesting, we have had encounters with elephants who have decided that the trees surrounding these waiting delivery vehicles look far tastier than any others in the area. ‘Just another day living in the bush’ I always say.”
“There will always be challenges living in the bush, but it is about careful preparation, planning and at times doing the best with the situation at hand. At least we get to see an elephant, buffalo or a lion or two on the way to the shop when we do need to ‘nip’ out!”