What We Learned From Building a Lodge in the Wilds of Hwange - as told by Garth Jenman - Hideaways

What We Learned From Building a Lodge in the Wilds of Hwange – as told by Garth Jenman

African time – the notion that we needn’t rush or stress and we’ll get there when we get there. For some, it can be a refreshing change of pace, or for others a frustrating foreign concept. On African time things can take a little longer, and when building a lodge in a truly remote area things might even take a lot longer… Nantwich in Hwange National Park is only 2 hours from Victoria Falls but once you enter the wilds of the bush, roads are tricky and transport becomes reliably unreliable. Couple that with herds of buffalo surrounding the building site and lions conducting some spontaneous kills literally on your doorstep, the conclusion is that such an undertaking is definitely not for sissies! We had a chat with our Director, Garth, about the trials of tribulations of bringing an exquisite Hideaways lodge to life in a uniquely special area.

“…we love and care for our properties like our very own children (maybe don’t tell my wife that)…”

“I’ve heard that’s a clever trick of evolution that babies are so incredibly cute, to ensure their survival. It’s the reason that we still love them and care for them even though they are pushing us to the limits of patience and sleep deprivation. And after a while, this suffering is but a very vague distant memory and parents start thinking perhaps we should have another one… For a safari collection like Hideaways, we could say that we love and care for our properties like our very own children (maybe don’t tell my wife that) and this same forgetfulness applies when it comes time to build a new one.

“Nantwich was a full renovation project of an existing lodge extensively damaged by fire and then practically abandoned to the wild…”

Nantwich, Hwange is the second lodge we have built in Zimbabwe and I think we’re all glad it is finally finished and ready for the 2020 safari season. I remember when we built Elephant’s Eye, Hwange it took us 10 months and it was really a full-on 24/7 project. One somehow forgets how much effort the whole team has to put in to finish off an upmarket lodge in the bush. Doing it all over again with Nantwich brought back all those memories – just as well one forgets otherwise one might not do it again! With our experience and insight, we did plan better this time around but were faced with different challenges this time. Firstly, Nantwich was a full renovation project of an existing lodge extensively damaged by fire and then practically abandoned to the wild, compared to Elephant’s Eye which was a new build from scratch in a pristine area.

“…there are many issues that come with building in a remote place like north Hwange National Park.”

The locations are also a bit different. Nantwich is incredibly remote, which of course is one of its main selling points. However, there are many issues that come with building in a remote place like north Hwange National Park. For instance, if you send the wrong materials through to site it can cause weeks of delays – instead of only days. This can cause lots of running around and quick thinking. Anything from phoning friends and asking favours to never accepting no for an answer from people who don’t have the same drive and sense of urgency as you. My team and I definitely learned how to be quick on our feet, innovative, persuasive and persistent.

“… our site manager was brushing his teeth [and] discovered a leopard watching him.”

We also had some funny experiences and anecdotes that we can laugh about now. Like when I was camping out in the old manager’s office and during the night I thought insects were running over me but it was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything. The next morning I found the culprits… two field mice in the corner of the room. One evening, when our site manager was brushing his teeth and he saw two eyes reflecting in the light of his torch a short distance away in the bush, when he walked closer to inspect he discovered that it was a leopard watching him – he did the fastest about-turn and retreated to his campervan with haste!

What We Learned From Building a Lodge in the Wilds of Hwange - as told by Garth Jenman 1

But I must say we are all so proud of creating a masterpiece in the wilds of the African bush and I look forward to our guests enjoying all the adventures Nantwich has to offer for years to come. And remember, if you have a dream that you really believe in, never give up!”

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