My early safaris here, back in the mid-1990’s, were solitary affairs. We were the only operational Lodge in Balule and we did not have any infrastructure. This meant that there was no radio contact with the Lodge, or indeed, with anyone else. All of a sudden, cell phone technology came of age and I saw this as an answer to a prayer. I was one of the first in Hoedspruit to get myself one of these new-fangled instruments of wonder and awe. It even had an expandable aerial. Do you remember those? Huge bricks, with battery that only lasted a little while. I was very proud of my new acquisition as I now envisaged myself being able to call Alma back at the Lodge in the event of any difficulties, which was always a possibility, given the decrepit state of my LandRover.
However, the saleslady never did tell me that the coverage by the towers was very sketchy (and still is!), which meant that the cell phone was pretty useless. However, I did go out this one time with two ladies from the Netherlands, who were most impressed that this First World technology should work in the heart of the African wilderness. So I set out to find a high point where I had “3 bars of signal” so that the ladies could make a call home to Amsterdam! I’ll never forget that call – both the Ladies speaking to their families and even insisting that that I should greet them too!
Since then, we have set up a radio system and just recently upgraded it to state of the art digital, so we are always in contact to one another and even with our neighbouring Lodges to maximize our sightings and improve our safety.