Many people may wonder what it is that keeps the Johannesburg team with one foot in Johannesburg and the other in our beautiful new lodge with killer views?
Well, the answer is simple really: none of us could move to the Mara without our beloved dogs and the Reserve might just have one too many leopards, eagles and the odd snake for our comfort. In the Johannesburg office, we have three fury team members who are regular visitors – not a bad ratio for only 6 staff.
Meet Charlie Fitzgerald, belonging to Nicky and Steve. Weighing in at all of 3kgs, Charlie is the office’s most regular visitor, who happily positions herself on her Maasai shuka throughout the day, peering out of the corner of her eye watching the (sometimes) organised chaos that comes with the running of a brand new lodge. Charlie’s older ‘sister’ Ella, prefers mostly to stay at home, but is still very much part of the Angama Mara family.
Third in the Jozi office is the joyful and hugely enthusiastic Knox Mitchell, belonging to Steve and Ali. If Knox is not visiting the Angama Mara offices, he can often be found hanging with Ella, waiting for his parents to fetch him after work. We also have two extended Californian members of the Angama Mara canine clan, both handsome Bernese mountain dogs – Sedona and Shasta – who belong to Ellen Freschauf of Selected Escapes, who represents us in North America.
As you may have gathered, we are slightly dog-crazy, and so it was to mine and Nicky’s joy that while we were telling the Angama Mara story (and what a story it is to tell) far and wide, we met more delightful ‘dogs in travel’.
When we flew west from the continent we so lovingly call home and the dogs we cherish, we came across Masin in New York City (In the Know Travel Service), Fiddler in San Francisco (Fugazi Travel), Arabella (Great Safaris) and Pumpkin (Anastasia’s Africa) in Los Angeles.
The only real difficulty that comes with meeting these engaging dogs in travel, is that Nicky and I get completely homesick for Ella, Charlie and Knox, and end up smooching the pooches and telling them all about Angama Mara in embarrassing puppy-talk-voices rather than professionally presenting to their owners the lovely lodge we have just opened on the edge of the Great Rift Valley…
Ellen once said ‘In my next life, I am coming back as my dogs!’ These words echo as I sit and watch Charlie on her red shuka being indulged by every passing Angama Marian.